LA Chargers, Philip Rivers stopped late in loss at Detroit | News Coverage from USA

LA Chargers, Philip Rivers stopped late in loss at Detroit

Kevin Allen

USA TODAY

Published 7:10 PM EDT Sep 15, 2019

DETROIT — Just when the Los Angeles Chargers were starting to believe their injury list couldn’t get much worse, it did.

 During the Chargers’ frustrating 13-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, starting safety Adrian Phillips went down with an undisclosed injury.

 “I don’t know how severe that is, but it didn’t look good,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.

 The Chargers played the Lions with five key players, including kicker Michael Badgley and tight end Hunter Henry, on the injured list. Plus, receiver Mike Williams is playing on a bad knee that could have gone either way. 

 But if there is a team prepared to cope with a multitude of injuries, one that seems to have been cursed by bad injury luck for the past few seasons, it could be the Chargers.

“We made the playoffs last year, with a bunch of injuries,”  cornerback Casey Hayward said. “Every team has a bunch of injuries.  We know this game is about injuries.”

 But it does look as though the Chargers have had an inordinate amount. 

“If you play this game long enough, you see crazy things. Hopefully, we can bounce back,” Hayward said.

Remember also that the Chargers started the season with all-pro, blindside-covering left tackle Russell Okung on the non-football illness reserve list. He suffered a pulmonary embolism resulting from blood clots in his legs.

Also missing is running back Melvin Gordon who is deep into a contract dispute.

The loss to the Lions was particularly difficult for the Chargers to take because they had victory in their grasp until giving up a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Matt Stafford.

The Chargers made series of unforced errors against the Lions, including having two touchdowns nullified by penalties. Rivers threw an interception in the end zone with 1:10 left in the game.

“We have to find the way to win the games,” Hayward said. “They made a play on their offense and their defense and that’s why they won the game.”

The Chargers couldn’t made the big play when needed. “We didn’t play clutch ball,” Hayward said.

  Henry’s loss hurt the Chargers’ offense, and Badgley’s absence was also felt. Ty Long, usually counted on primarily for punting, missed two field goals, including a 41-yarder in the fourth quarter. 

  “I think at this point (blaming injuries) would be an excuse,” Rivers said. “Nothing we did out there – the fumbles, the interception, two touchdowns called back, a couple of third-and-shorts we didn’t convert – that had nothing to do with injuries. That’s all self-inflicted.”

 Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said the Chargers made “way too many mistakes to beat anybody.”

 Added Rivers, who threw for 293 yards: “We have to clean this stuff up or we are going to lose more games like this. We hurt ourselves too often. “

 The Chargers went 12-4 with multiple injuries last season, and they can build on that history. Henry will be out at least four weeks. Badgley’s groin injury shouldn’t be long-term. Injuries are going to define the Chargers’ season. 

 “At the end of the day we have to find a way to win those games,” Hayward said. “We could do better on defense. We held them to six points until that final drive. If we held them to six points for the entire game, we would have won. We didn’t.”

 Chargers running back Justin Jackson looked at the Lions game as a lost opportunity.  “Games are lost in the NFL, not really won,” Jackson said. He felt as if the Chargers let it slip away. 

  Austin Ekeler, currently the No. 1 back, felt the same way. He clearly had not moved past his lost fumble near the Lions’ goal line, although he was working at trying to convert that into motivation.

   He said “frustration” was stewing in him. “You have to use it,” he said. “I’m letting it build.”


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