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Chargers-Titans Final Score: San Diego Chargers defeat the Tennessee Titans 43-35

The Chargers dominated early but allowed the Titans to get back into the game before closing them out.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

First Quarter

The Titans kicked off to the Chargers to start the game and my oh my, those powder blues looked nice. After Gordon was stuffed at the line, Inman picked up 6 and Old Man Gates ran for a rare 17-yard pickup. Gordon ran for 5 on the next play; unfortunately for the Titans, Brian Orakpo came out of the game after making the tackle. On 2nd and 5, Rivers threw a quick slant to Tyrell Williams for a first down. Rivers churned out another first with an 11-yard toss to #15, and a throw to Benjamin and run by Gordon resulted in another first down. On the very next play, Rivers capped off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown to Antonio Gates.

But, of course, this is the Chargers, and Josh Lambo promptly shanked the PAT wide right. That’s something to watch in the coming weeks, as the once-steady kicker is coming off a very shaky performance in Denver.

After a nice tackle by Joshua Perry and holding by the Titans return team, Tennessee started their first drive of the day from their own 10-yd line. A bobbled pass for an incompletion, short gain by Demarco Murray, and QB hit by Joey Bosa led to a three-and-out for the Titans offense. With a terrible punt by the Titans, the Chargers started their next drive from midfield.

A nice play-action pass from Rivers to Inman got the Chargers 15 yards. Orakpo came back into the game and stopped Gordon for a short gain as the Bolts went no-huddle; on 3rd and 7, Rivers threw it to Gates to tack on another 13 yards. After Gordon was stuffed behind the line, he took a short catch-and-run for 14 with a nice shake-and-bake on Perrish Cox. Unfortunately, D.J. Fluker stupidly launched his big body at the pile, and the Chargers moved back to the 20-yard line. What’s more Chargers than following that up with a burnt timeout as the play clock wound down?

Well, I forgot to knock on wood, because new addition Jeremy Butler got hurt two plays later. Gordon picked up four of the five yards he needed on third down; a weird sequence ensued, where Rivers tried to get the Titans to jump then walked away, teasing a Longest Yard-esque trick play where Gordon would take the direct snap. Nevertheless, the drive ended with a field goal, and a score of 9-0, Chargers.

Mariota took over at his 25-yard line as the CBS crew pushed the NFL’s agenda to keep the Chargers in San Diego. Two runs from Murray led to third-and-short, but Corey Liuget absolutely drilled him to stop the Titans and force another punt. Kern, most likely embarrassed by his previous whiff, sent a booming one all the way to the Chargers 10-yard line.

Side note here: you know OBJ’s Head and Shoulders commercials, where he talks about “shoulders made for greatness”? Yeah, those are some of the most painful ads to watch.

A holding by King Dunlap negated a 10-yard pass to Inman to start off the Chargers’ third drive of the day. A draw to Farrow and holding by Brice McCain led to a first down, and Gates followed that up with a quick out for a big gain. A great back-shoulder throw to Tyrell Williams got the Chargers to midfield, and the first quarter came to a close.

Second Quarter

A huge 43-yard gallop by MGIII—surprisingly sprung by Gates—started off the quarter with a bang. On the very next play, Rivers answered my fantasy prayers throwing a three-yard touchdown to Tyrell Williams (10.5 fantasy points right there on that one pass!) and the kick was good. The up tempo no-huddle looked freakin’ amazing!

Mariota showed why he’s one of the most dynamic young guns in football with a 20-yard toss to Delanie Walker on 1st-and-10. Antonio Andrews and Demarco Murray combined to get a first down, and Melvin Ingram got called for unsportsmanlike conduct with a headbutt. Yup, I kid you not. With nice coverage on Walker by Flowers, a pass breakup on a pass to Rishard Matthews, and a 9-yard completion to Fasano resulted in fourth down. A horrific sign for Chargers fans, though: Joey Bosa on the turf, unable to get up, as the training staff rushed over. Mularkey went for it on fourth down, and a second effort by Murray was about an inch short of converting. Or enough to convert? Apparently so. On first down, Mariota immediately threw a touchdown to Rishard Matthews, and Ryan Succop converted.

2 draws to Gordon garnered a first down to start the drive. A big gain on a slant to Tyrell Williams found the Bolts in Titans territory. Another penalty on Barksdale and a stuff by Derrick Morgan led to 3rd and 16, and a sack on Rivers killed the Bolts’ drive. Adding insult to injury, the refs called holding on Korey Toomer, adding 10 yards to a so-so punt from Kaser.

With momentum on their side, the Titans came out with a run to Demarco Murray, who promptly...tripped. Andrews followed with a good run, but an incomplete pass by Mariota meant a punt by Kern and Chargers football again. A stupid penalty by Dexter McCoil followed, and Mike McCoy was not happy, with the cameras showing him airing out the young safety. Interesting to see the contrast here compared to how McCoy calmly approached Ingram after #54’s personal foul.

Near their goal line, a lot of yellow appeared, with a DPI followed by a holding by the Chargers. Nonetheless, Gordon picked up 19 on 1st-and-19, another effective draw play by Whisenhunt. Funny seeing how much more effective the draw play is when used sparingly, compared to the maddening amount of draws from Reich the last couple of years. Chargers went three-and-out, with the Titans starting their next drive deep in their own territory.


The Chargers took over in the red zone, and Gordon picked up the first down after two straight plays of great run-blocking by the Chargers O-Line. After stuffing Gordon on 1st and 2nd, the Titans D held and the Bolts settled for a field goal.

The Titans’ 2-minute drill started with a big pickup by Kendall Wright, and Adrian Phillips got hurt on the next play. The Titans kept churning out yards, and eventually, a big throw to Tajae Sharpe got them inside the 10-yard line with 19 ticks to go. Rishard Matthews beat Dexter McCoil for an incredibly easy touchdown, and all of a sudden, a Chargers team once winning 16-0 now only led by 5 going into the half.

Third Quarter

The Titans received the ball to start the second half and Mariota took over at the 25 after a touchback. He looked deep for Matthews on the first play, but he overthrew him. Dexter McCoil continued to take Phillips’ snaps after the latter appeared injured at the end of the first half. Working quickly, the Titans picked up two first downs passing. A screen pass to Murray set up a 2nd & 5 across midfield. Mariota continued to pick on the secondary finding Sharpe for a first down then Harry Douglas for another. The pass set them up inside the 20 and may or may not have been a catch, but the Chargers did not challenge. Mariota then took the lead for Tennessee with an impressive 14-yard run.

A quick pass to Inman and a run by Gordon moved the chains. Defensive Pass Interference got them to the 50-yard line. A very nice catch and run by Gordon on a screen pass picked up another 12 yards and a new set of downs. Kenneth Farrow dropped a ball in the middle of the field that looked like it would have been enough for a first down, then Griff Whalen dropped another, though it likely wold not have been enough. Fortunately for the Chargers, a defensive holding penalty kept the drive alive.

Dontrelle Inman then converted another 1st down. A first down run got the offense inside the 20 and on 2nd down Rivers had to throw the ball out the back of the end zone setting up 3rd & 7. Gates converted and more driving to the 2-yard line. Gordon was stuff on 1st down. On 2nd down, he got inside the 1. On 3rd & goal, Rivers was sacked for a huge loss, but the Titans bailed them out with another penalty. This time, on 1st down, Gordon punched it in for six.

The Chargers stuffed Murray on 1st down, but then consecutive penalties by Bosa moved the sticks. Then Murray broke a long run that got the Titans across midfield. A fumble by Mariota on a designed run was scooped and scored by Dwight Lowery. Korey Toomer forced the fumble.

Two running plays quickly brought up a 3rd & 1. Brandon Flowers blew up the 3rd down run stopping Muray for a loss and forcing a punt.

Fourth Quarter

Tyrell Williams picked up a 1st down on a 10-yard catch and run. An ineffective run and an errant pass led to 3rd & 8, but they could not convert. Inman was stopped short of the sticks. Drew Kaser then punted the ball into the end zone for a touchback.

Flowers started the drive off with a tackle for loss. Matthews gained 10 on 2nd & 11. Jarius Wright then picked up a huge gain in part thanks to a terrible angle taken by Dwight Lowery. A 12 men on the field penalty gave the Titans even more help. Two solid defensive plays turned 1st & 5 into 3rd & 5. Murray was able to pick up 10 on a catch and run that kept the drive alive. On the very next play, Delanie Walker scored on an 8-yard reception.

With their lead shrunk to 5, Spencer Pulley was flagged for a false start on 1st down. On 1st & 15, Gordon rushed for 15 on what looked like a busted play. A 35-yard catch and run on a screen pass to Gordon got the offense to Tennessee’s 27. A 3-yard run by Farrow and an incomplete pass brought up 3rd & 7 from the Tennessee 24. Gordon rushed for six yards and brought up 4th & 1. Shockingly, McCoy kept the offense on the field. Unsurprisingly, they burned a timeout. And then they brought out the kicking team. Josh Lambo converted on a 36-yard attempt.

Mariota and the Titans took over from their own 25 still down only one score. Brandon Flowers picked off Mariota and returned it for a touchdown to bail out the coaching staff again.

A long catch and run by Douglas quickly moved the Titans across the 50. A pair of incompletions brought up 3rd & 10, but Matthews came up with a 1st down. Another catch by Matthews and a 13-yard run by Murray set up 1st & goal. Defensive Pass Interference in the end zone resulted in 1st & goal from the 1. Murray, of course, ran it in for six and left 2:45 on the clock.

With all of their timeouts remaining, the Titans kicked it deep. On 1st down, Gordon was stopped for no gain. Tennessee called a tmeout. On 2nd down, Farrow rushed for three yards. The Ttians called a timeout. On 3rd & 7, Gordon rushed for the 1st and more picking up 47 yards and icing the game.