The Chargers (5-6) held on to beat the Texans (6-5) in dramatic fashion holding on to win 21-13 in a game that was thoroughly dominated by Philip Rivers, and the Chargers defense. Rivers had two weeks to sit on the worst quarter of his career, and he bounced back like only he can completing over 70% of his passes and throwing for three touchdowns against one of the best secondaries in the league. The defense had forced a turnover in every game and did so again in this game with three interceptions and a fumble recovery, shutting the Texans down every time they attempted to come back.
The game started out with both offenses struggling as the teams combined for five consecutive punts before Houston opened up the scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Brock Osweiler, set up by a pass-interference call in the end zone, to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.
The Chargers would respond immediately, finally finding a crack in Houston’s defense Dontrelle Inman froze Quinton Demps with a double move and Philip Rivers led him in stride for a 52-yard bomb to tie the game.
Casey Hayward would give the defense their first big play of the game when jumped an Osweiler pass to notch his league-leading sixth interception, to give the ball back to the offense. Dontrelle Inman and Melvin Gordon would both have gains of 15+ yards setting up a 21-yard strike from Rivers to Tyrell Williams, his fourth touchdown of the season, to put the Chargers up 14-7.
The Bolts would have one more opportunity to score after Isaiah Burse returned a punt to the San Diego 49-yard line with 20 seconds left in the half. After a completion, Josh Lambo had a chance to make his first field goal over 50 yards on the season but missed the 54-yard attempt wide left to end the half.
After trading punts, the Texans were afforded great field position on a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on Houston’s punt return moving the ball all the way to the Chargers 48-yard line. The Texans looked as if they would score but made a huge mistake as a big hit by Dwight Lowery caused Lamar Miller to fumble for the first time this season, and it would be recovered by Trevor Williams.
The momentum was short-lived as the Chargers would give the ball right back on third down when Philip Rivers’ pass was tipped up for an interception, to give the ball to the Texans inside Chargers territory.
The Texans would move into the red zone and have a first-and-goal from the 6-yard line but the Chargers defense would come up big and hold Houston to a field goal cutting the deficit to four.
The Chargers would again attack a strong Houston secondary, with Dontrelle Inman snagging another two receptions to keep the offense on the field, and would finish the drive with Hunter Henry’s 5th touchdown of the season to push the lead to 21-10.
Down by two scores, the Texans set themselves back again as Brock Osweiler threw his second pick of the day overthrowing his tight end right into the arms of Dwight Lowery, giving the ball back to the Chargers.
After a three-and-out by the Chargers, the Texans would fail again to put points on the board after Joey Bosa tackled Osweiler from behind negating a probable first down, forcing a fourth down. With little time left in the game, the Texans would go for it but fail to convert as the defense held again turning Houston over on downs with 4:25 left in the game.
The Chargers offense wouldn’t do much but Melvin Gordon uses a couple tough runs to give the Bolts a first down and forcing Houston to burn all of their timeouts before punting the ball back to the Texans.
Needing two scores Houston went to a hurry up offense against the Chargers prevent defense and moved the ball easily, but with no timeouts, the Bolts defense did its job keeping all of the ball carriers in-bounds to keep draining the clock. Needing an onside kick, either way, the Texans had to kick the field goal with 14 left to go to make it a one-score game.
The Chargers knew that an onside kick was coming but just as it happened in the Broncos game, the Texans kicked it to the under-manned side of the field bouncing off the Chargers hands team and letting the Texans recover to keep their chance alive.
Houston had enough time for two shots at a Hail Mary but the Chargers had great coverage and defended both to perfection, as on the second attempt Dexter McCoil forced the fourth Houston turnover intercepting the ball in the end zone as time expired to seal the win.
The Chargers have an incredibly small margin for error down the stretch so every win is critical and have to feel good about beating a division leader that was undefeated at home, even if Brock Osweiler is their quarterback. The pass rush was much better in this game so that is encouraging and Joey Bosa was all over the field and if they can keep it up there is no doubt that they could finish the season with a winning record, but they will probably need to win every game to make any playoff noise.
The Chargers will travel home and prepare for the Buccaneers to attempt to get their record back to even Sunday, December 4th at Qualcomm Stadium at 1:25 Pacific Time.