EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Two teams mired in two forgettable seasons played a rather forgettable game as the San Diego Chargers beat the New York Jets 27-17 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
For the Chargers (6-9), it was just their second win in their last seven games in a season that they started 3-1. A solid display by San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, who was 11 for 22 for 165 yards with two touchdowns, led the way for the Chargers. It was Rivers' third straight game without throwing an interception.
It was an up and down afternoon for Greg McElroy in his first NFL start. McElroy went 14 for 24 for 185 yards with an interception and a fumble lost but he received little help from an offensive line that allowed 11 sacks.
The Jets (6-9) will have their first losing season in four years under coach Rex Ryan.
The Chargers responded in the second half after a rough first half in which they went into the locker room down 14-10 and were outgained 142-75 in offensive yards.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, the Chargers moved the ball 81 yards on eight plays to take a 17-14 lead. The scoring play came from a long heave by Rivers to Danario Alexander, a 37-yard bomb that twisted Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie around in the end zone.
From there, San Diego was firmly in control. With 1:42 left in the third quarter, tight end Antonio Gates turned a short pass into a 34-yard touchdown and a 24-14 Chargers lead. Nick Novak, who made a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter, added another in the fourth quarter for a 27-14 lead.
The game started with a bolt for the Chargers, who took an early lead. After the Jets had a three-and-out on the game's opening drive, Chargers punt returner Michael Spurlock followed some outstanding blocking and found space down the left side of the field for a 63-yard return for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. It was Spurlock's first punt return for a TD since 2009 when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Jets responded with consecutive scoring drives in the first quarter to stake a 14-7 lead, each drive capped off by a 1-yard dive by running back Shonn Greene. It went downhill from there for the home team.
It has been a tough six days for the Jets, who lost on Monday night at the Tennessee Titans in a result that knocked them out of a spot in the playoffs for a second straight season. The performance of quarterback Mark Sanchez in that game, who threw four interceptions and had a total of five turnovers, resulted in the Jets starting McElroy on Sunday.
The Jets managed just 83 yards of offense against the Chargers in the second half.
Next Sunday, the Chargers close out the season when they host the Oakland Raiders. The Jets travel to the Buffalo Bills.