CARSON (CNS) - The Los Angeles Chargers lost a fumble on the Detroit Lions' 1-yard line, missed two field goals and had quarterback Philip Rivers throw an interception into the end zone on their final play in a 13-10 loss today in Detroit.
“We made way too many mistakes to beat anybody and that's what this game boiled down to, mistake after mistake,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.
A week after scoring three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, in a 30-24 season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts, Austin Ekeler fumbled when he was hit by rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai as he attempted to leap into the end zone from the Lions' 1-yard line in the third quarter, with linebacker Devon Kennard recovering for Detroit on its 3-yard line.
“There is a time to leap and there is a time to run through,” Lynn said. “I thought we had plenty of time to run through. Usually in a `got to have it' situation you can go over the top and extend the ball, but that definitely was not a got-to-have-it situation. The ball should have been secured.”
Ekeler, who is in his third season in the NFL, called the leap “a rookie mistake by me.”
“First down, we got three tries from the one-yard line. Probably need to stay on the ground and just try to pound it in there,” said Ekeler, who is starting in place of Melvin Gordon, who did not report to training camp as he seeks a contract extension. “I got a little too anxious and tried to go up over the top.
“I reached the ball, somebody punched it out came out and that's how that went. But down the stretch I felt like we had more chances to get it in the end zone and it just didn't happen.”
In their three possessions after Ekeler's fumble, Chargers kicker Ty Long had a 39-yard field-goal attempt hit the left upright and missed a 41-yard attempt wide right and Rivers threw the interception.
Usually the Chargers punter, Long was again forced into handling field goals and extra points because Michael Badgley was inactive for the second consecutive game because of a groin injury.
Like Ekeler, Long also starred in the Chargers opener, making three extra-point attempts and a 40-yard field goal and was selected as the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
The Chargers (1-1) began their final possession on their own 20-yard line and drove to Detroit's 19-yard line.
A 4-yard loss on a run by Justin Jackson, an incomplete pass and a 5- yard delay of game penalty pushed the Chargers back to the Lions' 28-yard line where Rivers threw a deep pass intended for Keenan Allen, which was intercepted by Darius Slay in the end zone with one minute, three seconds left.
“Slay's back was turned to me and so I thought, `Hey, Keenan maybe, interference maybe or incomplete and let's go kick it.' I certainly didn't think interception or I wouldn't have thrown it. But good corners in this league and they found the ball ... and I think that's what he did.
“His back was turned, but he found the ball and made a good play. So obviously in hindsight, I want that one back. I didn't feel I was being careless, obviously I wouldn't have thrown it, I didn't throw it in a desperation mindset although it may have looked that way. But I wish we would've at least had one more kick at it to see if we could tie it up.”
The Chargers twice appeared to score on the drive that ended with Ekeler's fumble. Jackson's 60-yard touchdown run was nullified by receiver Dontrelle Inman's holding penalty at Detroit's 21-yard line. Two plays later, a 22-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Ekeler was nullified by an illegal block above the waist penalty against offensive tackle Sam Tevi.
The Lions (1-0-1) took their only lead on Matthew Stafford's 31-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay with 7:21 remaining, capping an eight-play, 69- yard drive where Stafford was five-for-five for 61 yards.
The Chargers outgained Detroit, 424 yards to 339, and led 21-19 in first downs and 31:19-28:41 in time of possession. The Chargers converted six of 13 third downs before a crowd at Ford Field announced at 60,158.
The Lions converted four of 10 third downs, and the game's only fourth- down attempt on Stafford's 4-yard pass to Marvin Jones on a fourth-and-1 from the Chargers' 35-yard line, one play before what proved to be the winning touchdown.
“That thing was like fired in there,” Detroit coach Matt Patricia said. “I don't know if Marvin caught it or it just stuck into his chest, but I mean it was a great play. Great play by the quarterback, great route.”
The Chargers' three trips into the red zone resulted in Ekeler's 1- yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Ekeler's fumble and Rivers' interception. Detroit never reached the red zone.
The Chargers were penalized nine times for 70 yards, Detroit eight times for 71 yards.
Rivers completed 21 of 36 passes for 293 yards with the one interception and was sacked once in his 210th consecutive start, tying Eli Manning for the second-most among NFL quarterbacks behind Brett Favre, who made 297 consecutive starts from 1992-2010 with the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.
Rivers is tied for sixth on the all-time list which dates back to 1970 because data is incomplete prior to the AFL-NFL merger that went into effect that year.
Stafford completed 22 of 30 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. He was not sacked.
The Chargers opened the scoring on their second possession, driving 68 yards on nine plays for Ekeler's touchdown. Rivers completed three of five passes for 57 yards, including a 35-yard pass to Ekeler.
The Lions responded with an eight-play, 75-yard drive, with running back Kerryon Johnson turning a short pass from Stafford into a 36-yard touchdown, their longest play. Detroit remained behind 7-6 as Matt Prater's extra-point attempt went wide left.
Prater also missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt wide right 5:57 before halftime.
Long kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to increase the Chargers' lead to 10-6.
“It felt like we let one get away and it was our fault,” Lynn said after the Chargers failed to have their first 2-0 start since 2012. “It is going to hurt and it should hurt.”
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