NFL Wire News

3 things we learned about the Chargers


The Sports Xchange

SAN DIEGO — Chargers rookie kicker Josh Lambo missed a game-winner against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Before he had a chance to get down, his teammates picked him up.

“A couple of guys came over and said, ‘Hey, did you see that yellow thing on the field? That means you get a second chance, so kick it through this time,”‘ Lambo said.

His 34-yard field goal with no time remaining lifted the Chargers past the Browns 30-27.

Lambo was wide right from 39 yards with two seconds left, but defensive back Tramon Williams was penalized for being offside, giving Lambo another shot.

“I had a chance to right my wrong,” Lambo said.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said Williams’ gamble was well-served.

“That’s when you’re in desperation block situation,” Pettine said.

The Browns cut the Chargers’ edge to 27-25 on tight end Gary Barnidge’s 1-yard scoring catch with two minutes to play. Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel caught Josh McCown’s pass for a 2-point conversion to tie the game, 27-27.

“It was one of those games that whoever has it last, has the best chance of winning,” McCown said.

Philip Rivers threw this third touchdown pass, a 1-yarder to tight end John Phillips, with 7:26 remaining. That gave the Chargers an eight-point lead, their biggest of the afternoon.

Phillip’s score was set up by a 68-yard reception from wide receiver Dontrelle Inman.

Rivers completed 23 of 38 for three touchdowns and 358 yards.

“It was just a scrappy game,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if it was our best game, but it was enough.”

McCown was 32 of 41 for two touchdowns and 356 yards.

“I’m just disappointed,” McCown said. “It’s heartbreaking for obvious reasons.”

What we learned about the Chargers:

1. The pass rush the Chargers bragged about all preseason finally showed up. Looks as if the team really does have one after entering the game with one sack in 12 quarters. San Diego had Browns quarterback Josh McCown under duress for parts of the game and recorded four sacks. Outside linebacker Jerry Attaochu, a second-year pro, had a game-high two sacks.

2. Josh Lambo can handle the pressure — apparently. Lambo missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt that would have given the Chargers the win, pushing it wide right. He got another chance thanks to a penalty, and he made a 34-yarder. Lambo edged veteran Nick Novak in a spirited camp battle. Among the reasons the Chargers went with Lambo is he kicked a game-winner against the Arizona Cardinals during the preseason. Lambo was retained for his strong leg on kickoffs, and if he can provide accuracy to go with that, it is a plus for San Diego.

3. The Chargers were an average team without Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates, going 2-2. He will return Oct. 12 when the Chargers face the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gates was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing-drugs policy. In his absence, Ladarius Green and John Phillips stepped up. Phillips had the scoring catch in the fourth quarter Sunday, and Green finished with 53 yards and a touchdown on four receptions against the Browns.


–LT King Dunlap was out with a concussion Sunday, and it is a concern in that he has experienced multiple concussions throughout his career, dating back to Philadelphia. The Chargers certainly knew that before signing him in the offseason to a four-year, $28 million contract. It is worth watching if their roll of the dice pays off with Dunlap already missing a game. He played in all 16 last year.

–C Chris Watt had some big shoes to fill after Pro Bowl Nick Hardwick retired. Complicating that task was the fact that Watt was a guard when playing at Notre Dame. Watt looked OK in camp and preseason, but now he is bothered by a groin injury that he can’t shake. Watt had to be pulled from last week’s game, and he didn’t play against the Browns after not practicing all week.

–LG Orlando Franklin was among the biggest signings the Chargers had this offseason. Not only could San Diego fill a gap at left guard, but in signing him away from the Broncos, the move might hurt Denver as well. However, Franklin didn’t play much in the preseason due to an undisclosed leg injury, and he was out on Sunday with an ankle injury, which is believed to be severe. He wasn’t able to practice all week.

–CB Brandon Flowers left the game with a concussion and didn’t return.

–WR Malcom Floyd exited the contest with a concussion and didn’t return.

–WR Stevie Johnson sustained a hamstring injury and didn’t return.

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