BALTIMORE—Philip Rivers watched Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal, walked over to his Ravens counterpart, and commiserated.
Rivers’ San Diego Chargers and Joe Flacco’s Ravens are both 2-6, and neither can believe it.
“It’s been a crazy year for both teams, hasn’t it?” Rivers told Flacco.
As close as the Ravens’ games have all been, the Chargers’ games have been nearly as close.
Baltimore hasn’t had a game decided by more than eight points. Seven of San Diego’s games have been that close.
“We lost on the last play of the game—three games. That’s probably what the Ravens have said,” Rivers said.
“It’s crazy how they’ve lost. That’s not a 2-7 team, whatever it is, 2-6 team. That’s what their record is. We know they’re not that. They’re a playoff team year-in and year-out.”
Rivers is used to being on a contender. They’ve had just one losing season in his 12-year career. A second one looks increasingly likely now.
“I’m not one to say you’d rather get beat 35-0 every week than have close games because I can’t imagine how that would feel,” Rivers said.
“I think it does make it tougher when it’s like this because you know you could have, and you know you’re good enough, but you didn’t do it.”
In Mike McCoy’s first two seasons as head coach, the Chargers went 9-7, and two years ago went to the playoffs.
It doesn’t look like that’s happening this year, perhaps the team’s final year in San Diego before a move to Los Angeles.
On Sunday, McCoy counted a dozen players lost during the game to injuries, something he’s never seen before.
“You can highlight that one. Never,” McCoy said.
The Chargers lost key offensive linemen, but gave up just one sack.
Rivers played very well, completing 17 of his first 18 passes, and finishing 28 for 37 for 301 yards. Once when he was knocked down on a safety blitz, Rivers completed his longest throw of the game, a 70-yarder to Malcom Floyd that gave San Diego a 23-16 lead late in the third quarter.
It looked like the Chargers were rolling and Rivers, who had a busy week, doesn’t know where to turn.
“It’s been tough to keep losing this way. For once I don’t have a lot to say. I don’t have a whole lot of answers,” Rivers said.
“I don’t there’s a philosophical or huge problem, but whatever the problem is, we haven’t been able to answer it.”
The loss aside, it was a nice week for Rivers whose wife gave birth to the couple’s eighth child, their sixth daughter. The quarterback took time on Saturday night to visit an 11-year-old Baltimore child with cancer, who happens to be a San Diego fan, in the hospital. He presented the boy with a signed football.
On Sunday, Rivers trash talked with Steve Smith, Sr. before his injury, and was barking at the Ravens’ bench after the 70-yard score. He thought the Chargers were going to win.
“Goodness gracious. We didn’t turn the ball over. Defense came up with some big stops when they needed it,” Rivers said.
But, they still lost.
The game looked as if it might be heading to overtime when on 3rd-and-19 on the San Diego 43, Flacco threw an incompletion to Kamar Aiken with 1:11 to play, but Steve Williams was flagged for pass interference, setting up Tucker’s winning field goal.
“I played it as solid as I could. I thought I played it pretty good. I thought it was incomplete,” Williams said. “They called it, so I can’t go back.”
The cornerback was convinced there shouldn’t have been a call.
“I got my hands on him early, ran, looked inside, outside again. The ball was over the top. He fell. I guess they thought I pushed him. I didn’t push him,” Williams said.
Rivers is now 3-4 against the Ravens. This was the first time he played against them without Terrell Suggs. Elvis Dumervil presented problems, but it wasn’t the same without Suggs.
“You can’t just focus on one guy if you have that other Suggs-type player that’s a perennial Pro Bowler. It’s still a good Ravens defense. I think they’re built on the same principles. It’s still a good group,” Rivers said.
Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers still liked what he saw from Flacco.
“He bought time, made some great throws out of the pocket. Flacco’s a cool guy though. You’re never going to see him rattled. I don’t pay attention to what kind of season he has because I know what kind of player he is. He made some clutch throws today, I can tell you that,” Flowers said.