The game started out better than the team could’ve asked for as Deshaun Watson threw an ill-advised pass into the dirt that landed behind his person, cultivating in a fumble recovery by cornerback Desmond King.
After returning the fumble to the Houtson 15-yard line, Rivers found Keenan Allen in the front corner of the end zone to give the Bolts a 7-0 lead.
On the next Chargers drive, after forcing a three-and-out, they marched down the field to the Houston six-yard line. Justin Jackson took a handoff left and extended over the goal line but the touchdown wass brought back by a holding penalty against left guard Dan Feeney.
On the very next play, Rivers was sacked which lead to a Ty Long field goal from 35 yards out which made it 10-0, Chargers
On the ensuing drive, the Texans took advantage of a flea-flicker, compounded by a roughing-the-passer penalty on Joey Bosa, to get into the Chargers’ red zone. Several plays later, Watson hit tight end Darren Fells for their first score of the day to bring the Bolts’ lead to 10-7.
The Chargers brought the ball out to midfield on their next drive but a sack by defensive tackle DJ Reader, who had his way with Dan Feeney the entire game. The drive eventually stalled and Long punted it away to Houston’s seven-yard line.
Missed tackles continued to ravage the Chargers as running back Duke Johnson took advantage of Brandon Facyson and Roderic Teamer a few plays later, hitting a big gain on the ground with some nifty moves.
Fortunately, the Chargers pressure was too great for Watson who dirted a pass on third down, forcing them to punt back to the Bolts.
WIth one minute and forty seconds left in the half, Rivers marched the Chargers down the field, aided by a defensive holding penalty on Houston linebacker Dylan Cole, to move them to the Houston 37. The entire Houston defensive line collapsed on Rivers to bring the sticks back to 2nd-and-17. After a neutral zone infraction by J.J. Watt, the Chargers convert on 3rd-and-12 with a pass to Mike Williams.
Only two plays later, Rivers would hit Allen on a crossing route before Slayer would make a would-be tackler whiff on his way untouched into the end zone.
That score would bring the Chargers lead back to 10 heading into halftime.
The Texans received the opening kickoff of the second half but couldn’t muster much of anything before punting it right back to the Bolts.
The Chargers found some more success moving the ball downfield into Houston territory. The drive stalled on the 27-yard line following a failed attempt at challenging a defensive pass-interference no-call. Once the call stood, Rivers dropped back, held the ball too long, and fumbled it away after J.J. Watt made contact with the signal-caller.
The Chargers continued to rack up the penalties on the ensuing defensive stand, committing a roughing-the-passer and defensive facemask penalty. The depleted secondary finally started to come unraveled when a short slant pass to DeAndre Hopkins was taken for a huge gain. Watson followed that chunk-play up by finding a wide-open Jordan Akins in the end zone to finally take the lead for the Texans 21-17.
Needing to move the ball and move it quickly, the Chargers started their next drive with a handoff to Austin Ekeler. However, the opening play of the drive was nullified thanks to another holding penalty by Dan Feeney (can I see some Forrest Lamp, please?)
On the very next play, newly-signed tight end Lance Kendricks snags a pass of 12 yards on 3rd-and-11 to keep the chains moving.
After failing to sustain yet another drive, the Chargers defense stumbled their way into an even deeper hole on the very next drive.
After a pair of offsetting penalties nullified a Rayshawn Jenkins interception, Watson escaped a (God knows how many at this point) would-be sack and lofted a pass to a laughably wide-open Jordan Akins who rumbled 40+ yards into the end zone.
This wasn’t the first, or second, or third time that Akins or Fells found themselves wide open and it was consistently a theme in the Chargers second-half implosion.
Keenan Allen took it upon himself to put the team on his back by collecting back-to-back passes on the ensuing drive, including a huge gain down the left sideline to bring the Bolts deep into Texans territory. However, after failing to convert a 3rd-and-1 with a fullback dive, the Chargers settled for a 43-yard field goal by Long.
The Chargers managed to limit the damage on the following Texans drive, getting to the quarterback for the second time on the day as a group of Chargers converged Watson, including Joey Bosa and Thomas Davis.
Following the Houston punt, Ruvers started the drive off with two more passes to Allen. The second being another chunk play around midfield. J.J. Watt had other plans and sacked Rivers for a loss of two. The next two passes by Rivers fell incomplete and the Chargers were faced with a 4th-and-13 with just over two minutes left in the game.
Allen was up to the task agaoin, converting on fourth down with a catch of 15 yards.
The Chargers marched proceeded to March down the field again, but it was the same old story.
On a big third down conversion put the Chargers within the Texans’ 15-yard line, left tackle Trent Scott was called for a holding penalty against Whitney Mercilus and the Chargers’ attempt at a tying score stuttered and stumbled as they turned it over on downs with 11 seconds left.
After the kneel down, the Texans walked away with the victory.