Chargers’ Rivers staying positive despite slow start

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — After throwing three interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, including picks on two of his first four pass attempts, maybe it wasn’t a surprise that Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers didn’t have much to say during his commute after the game.

“It was a quiet ride home Sunday, at least for the first 30 minutes,” Rivers said.

With a few days to reflect on a performance he regarded among the worst in his 12 seasons as a starter, Rivers had plenty to talk about Wednesday. If he and the offense can just find ways to score touchdowns, starting with Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Rivers believes everyone in the NFL will be soon talking about the Chargers and a remarkable turnaround.

“I’m sick about the way I’ve played, I’m sick that we haven’t scored enough points, but I’m super fired up about the way our defense is playing and continuing to hold teams,” Rivers said. “I should believe that if they keep holding teams to 20, right in there, then we’re going to win a bunch of games. If they keep them there, we’re bound to win and hopefully that starts Sunday.”

The Chargers are averaging 16 points per game, which is tied for 26th in the league. They have scored one touchdown in the first quarter and one in the third quarter, forcing the offense to play from behind against the powerful pass rush of division foes Kansas City and the Denver Broncos. The run game has taken a backseat when chasing the game.

But Rivers and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt see positive signs within those struggles.

Pass protection has been strong, allowing four sacks this season despite Rivers dropping back almost an average of 40 times a game.

Melvin Gordon had his most productive rushing game of the season before suffering a knee injury against the Chiefs, and head coach Anthony Lynn said the running back is “doing OK” and dealing with soreness after avoiding structural damage. The Chargers still haven’t maximized their various targets in the passing game.

And, despite being minus-three in turnover margin, the Chargers still had chances to tie the Chiefs in the closing minutes.

“There’s been times where there has been a game like that and it would have been 35 to nothing when I have a span like I had for 15 minutes there,” Rivers said.

“It was one of those games where we did a lot of good things, but we shot ourselves in the foot and that makes it hard to overcome,” Whisenhunt said. “When you’re talking with the team, you can’t ignore some of the things that you did well. We ran the ball more effectively this game. We were better in third downs, especially in the first half. There were some positives.”

Against the Eagles, Rivers is focused on starting fast. That means shaking off the offense’s issues in the first quarter and being more effective on first and second down. Usually one of the best third-down offenses in football, the Chargers are currently at 30.3 percent (10 of 33) with the chance to extend drives.

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