According to the always excellent Scott Hanson of the NFL Network, a full third of the league's games this season have seen fourth-quarter comebacks. The New York Jets added to that total with their 27-21 win over the San Diego Chargers at MetLife Stadium, but they had a lot of help — specifically, help from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
After San Diego got off to a 21-10 lead late in the second quarter, everything just fell apart in the second half. The Chargers didn't score in any of their last six drives, and those drives ended a little something like this: Punt, punt, punt, interception, interception, downs. And as frustrating as Rivers' two picks were (and just one of them was really his fault), it was the curious decision to throw out of bounds on fourth-and-3 from the San Diego 49-yard line with 11 seconds left in the game.
Erm, again: The decision to throw out of bounds on fourth-and-3 from the San Diego 49-yard line with 11 seconds left in the game. Yeah, that turned the ball back to the Jets, who kneeled down once and ended the game. Down six, one of the game's best quarterbacks wasted his last shot at a comeback.
On this week's edition of our game preview podcast with Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's "NFL Matchup," I asked Greg what he thought might be wrong with Rivers, because he's looked off much of the year. In this game, he completed just 16 of his 32 passes for just 179 yards, one touchdown, and the two picks.
"I don't think Rivers has been as sharp throwing the football," Greg said. "I think he's missed some throws that he usually makes. The thing that's always impressed me about Rivers is the way he stands in the pocket — there can be four, five, six people around him, and he's oblivious to them. He just has a remarkable ability to throw the ball with bodies around him without seeming to be aware that they're there. But I would say that overall, he's not been as sharp or as consistently accurate as we've seen in the past."
The tape certainly didn't lie against the Jets, and that's a problem if the now 4-2 Chargers want to do any damage in the postseason beyond winning an AFC West that looks ripe for the picking. Without Rivers playing at his best, the Chargers are effectively sunk.