MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins kept their chances for a playoff spot alive with a 20-16 win over the San Diego Chargers in a home game at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.
The Chargers came close to disappointing the Dolphins on the final play of the game with seven seconds remaining, but quarterback Philip Rivers' game-ending heave from the 25-yard line fell incomplete.
Both teams came into the game with a 4-5 record for the season and in a three-way tie for seventh place in the AFC. With only six games remaining, the Dolphins are now 5-5 and the Chargers 4-6 on the season, firmly in the cluster of teams fighting for the sixth playoff spot in the conference.
Rivers completed 22 of 34 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates and running back Ryan Mathews had 127 rushing yards in a losing effort.
Miami survived despite continued issues protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was sacked four times, and converted just two of 10 third-down attempts.
Tight end Charles Clay gave the Dolphins a 17-10 lead on a 39-yard touchdown with 7:43 remaining in the third quarter. Clay led the Dolphins with six receptions for 90 yards.
The Chargers inched within one point of the Dolphins with a pair of field goals to trim the lead to 17-16 early in the fourth. The second field goal ended a five-play, 56-yard drive highlighted by Mathews' career-long 51-yard run.
Sturgis made a 37-yard field goal with 8:43 remaining in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 20-16.
The Dolphins, who had lost five of their last six games, were first on the board, scoring on a 22-yard field goal by kicker Caleb Sturgis in their first possession of the game.
Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes ended the Chargers first possession of the game with an interception return for 15 yards on a deep right pass intended for wide receiver Vincent Brown.
Chargers cornerback Johnny Patrick picked off a pass intended for Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline at the Miami 49. On first-and-goal from the 5, Chargers quarterback Rivers' pass to Gates put San Diego ahead 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas answered with a 1-yard touchdown run, capping a nine-play, 80-yard drive as Miami recaptured the lead, 10-7. The Chargers came back to even the score 10-10 with less than a minute left in the first half with a 27-yard field goal by kicker Nick Novak.
NOTES: QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times by the Chargers. He has been sacked an NFL-worst 41 times this season. Tannehill is just 12 sacks shy of a franchise record. ... Dolphin Sam Brenner, listed in the Dolphins media guide as a center, made his NFL debut at left guard. A 2013 Utah graduate, he played guard and left tackle in 50 games with 26 starts at school. In his last two years at school he allowed only two sacks total in 25 games. ... Chargers CB Johnny Patrick, who posted his first interception, sustained a head injury and did not play in the second half. ... Chargers DE Corey Liuget and OLB Tourek Williams grew up in Miami. Liuget attended Hialeah High School and Williams went to Norland High School.