Epic collapse leaves Bolts with work to do


Epic collapse leaves Bolts with work to do

SAN DIEGO (AP) Norv Turner keeps saying San Diego can be a good team, and the Chargers keep responding with second-half collapses.

Monday night was epic: The Chargers blew a 24-0 halftime lead and lost 35-24 to Peyton Manning and the AFC West-rival Denver Broncos.

It tied for the fourth-biggest comeback in NFL regular-season history.

A week earlier, San Diego blew a 10-point third-quarter lead in losing 31-24 at New Orleans. They let the Saints score the final 17 points and then watched as the Broncos scored the final 35 points Monday night.

It was such an enormous pratfall that the normally vociferous fans didn't even boo.

The Broncos (3-3) tied the Chargers (3-3) atop the AFC West. Both teams have their byes this weekend.

The big culprit was Philip Rivers, who set career highs with four interceptions and six turnovers overall. Three of his pickoffs were in the fourth quarter, one of which was returned 46 yards by Chris Harris for the final score. In the third quarter, Tony Carter returned Rivers' fumble 65 yards for a score.

After committing 25 turnovers last year, including 20 interceptions, Rivers has committed 12 in the first six games this season, including nine picks.

``We're going to fix the issues that are keeping us from finishing games,'' said Turner, who once again has drawn the ire of the fans but is likely to survive at least until season's end.

``There's a lot of things involved,'' the coach said. ``It starts with the coaching and it starts with deciding what we're going to do, when we're going to do it. The things that we're having problems with, we may eliminate. It may mean we're a little bit more conservative, it may mean in some cases we do things a little differently. Any more detail than that, certainly it's going to show up when we play and I'm not going to sit here and talk about how we're going to change in terms of our game plans and what we do. We're letting those four or five plays change the entire game.''

Turner bristled twice at his weekly press conference Tuesday.

He said the coaching staff is as disappointed and frustrated as fans. ``But I believe there's a strong determination between the players and the coaches. That's what gives me optimism and belief that we will get this problem fixed,'' he said.

Asked where the determination was in the third and fourth quarters, Turner snapped: ``You're not listening. It's not how hard we're playing it the third and fourth quarter. If you turn the ball over four times, you're not going to win the game, OK? And that's the problem we have to fix. There was great effort and determination in the third and fourth quarter. If the ball is on the ground or you're turning it over, it doesn't matter.''

After Ryan Mathews fumbled at the Atlanta 4-yard line three weeks ago, Turner said he was going to limit the running back's exposure to certain situations.

Asked if he planned to do the same thing with Rivers, Turner said: ``I think if you're listening to what I'm saying, we're certainly going to look hard at the things we're having a tough time with. Yes, we are going to limit some of the things we're doing. I've got to do a better job in making sure we put things in there and that we're calling things that have less risk. They may not have as big a reward. We may not be quite the same big-play team, but we're not going to turn the ball over.''

Rivers wasn't alone in playing poorly. He's been forced to rush throws and even throw off his back foot the last two games because the offensive line hasn't protected him well.

While Rivers was under siege Monday night, San Diego's defense failed to sack Manning and had just one hit against the 36-year-old star QB, who's regaining his form after missing last season, his final year in Indianapolis.

Manning was magnificent in the second half, completing his first 13 passes before finishing the final 30 minutes by going 13 of 14 for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Manning finished 24 of 30 for 309 yards with one interception, which was returned 80 yards for a score by Quentin Jammer in the first half.

There is precedent for midseason coaching changes in San Diego. In 1998, GM Bobby Beathard fired Kevin Gilbride after six games because he'd lost the locker room and the fan base. In 1986, the great Don Coryell - whom some people believe belongs in the Hall of Fame - resigned after a 1-7 start, and owner Alex Spanos made no attempt to dissuade him. Alex Spanos ceded day-to-day control of the team to son Dean after the 1993 season.

But fans who want Turner fired now are likely to be disappointed. After all, Dean Spanos, the team president, decided to keep Turner and general manager A.J. Smith in January despite the Chargers missing the playoffs for the second straight season. Part of the reason could be that Spanos didn't want to eat the money owed the two men. Turner is under contract through 2013, at about $3 million a year, and Smith through 2014, at about $2 million a year.

Four seasons ago, Turner fired defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell after a loss to New Orleans in London left the Chargers 3-5. Despite falling to 4-8, the Chargers won their last four that season, coupled with Denver's late-season collapse, to win the division at 8-8.

Turner said he doesn't anticipate any changes on his staff.

Smith didn't return a call seeking comment and a team spokesman said it was unlikely Spanos would be available.


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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.


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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.


Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.


Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.


Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.


Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.