CARSON (CNS) - The Los Angeles Chargers were held to a field goal in the second half and allowed touchdowns on three consecutive possessions as a 10- point lead disappeared in a 27-20 loss to the Houston Texans today.
“We keep putting ourselves in a position to win these football games and we're not finishing,” said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, whose team was shut out in the second half of last Sunday's 13-10 loss at Detroit.
“It was a tough loss today to a good football team. I think that team is going to win a lot of games, but we just didn't play good enough to beat that team. That quarterback played better than our whole defense. He was a challenge all day.”
That quarterback was Deshaun Watson who completed 25 of 34 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the second half.
Watson gave the Texans (2-1) their first lead on a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Akins with one minute, 19 seconds left in the third quarter, six plays after Philip Rivers' fumble on a sack was recovered by linebacker Zach Cunningham at Houston's 27-yard line.
On Houston's next possession, Watson escaped from the grasp of defensive end Melvin Ingram, found Akins at the Chargers 43-yard line who ran into the end zone to increase the Texans lead to 27-17 with 9:53 to play.
“I saw Akins go right when I was going left,” Watson said. “No one was over there so I just kind of flipped him the ball and he made the play after that.”
The extra point attempt by UCLA alumnus Ka'imi Fairbairn went wide right.
The touchdown came five plays after an interception by Rayshawn Jenkins was nullified by a face mask penalty against defensive back Desmond King.
The Chargers would get their only points of the second half on their next possession on a 43-yard field goal from Ty Long with 7:14 remaining.
The Chargers got the ball back on their own 16-yard line with 4:19 left on what would be their final possession.
They drove to Houston's 24-yard line, but were pushed back to the 34- yard line on a holding penalty by Trenton Scott that wiped out a 17-yard pass from Rivers to Mike Williams that would have given them a first-and-goal on the Texans 7-yard line with 24 seconds to play.
Rivers final two passes fell incomplete and the Chargers turned the ball over on downs.
The Chargers (1-2) were outgained, 376 yards to 366. They led 22-20 in first downs and 31:48-28:12 in time of possession before a crowd at Dignity Health Sports Park announced at 25,349.
The Chargers converted five of 15 third downs and two of three fourth downs, all on the final drive. Houston converted six of 10 third downs and did not attempt a fourth-down conversion.
Both teams lost one fumble which were both converted into touchdowns.
The Chargers were penalized seven times for 69 yards, the Texans six times for 65 yards.
“The teams that turn it over and have penalties are the teams that lose,” Rivers said.
Rivers completed 31 of 46 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns, both to Keenan Allen, and was sacked five times in his 211th consecutive start, breaking a tie with Eli Manning of the New York Giants for the second-most among NFL quarterbacks.
Rivers' streak began on Sept. 11, 2006 in the season-opening 27-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders. The record for consecutive starts for an NFL quarterback is 297 by Brett Favre.
Rivers moved into sixth among all players for consecutive starts. That list dates back to 1970 because data is incomplete prior to the AFL-NFL merger that went into effect that year.
Allen caught 13 passes for a career-high 183 yards. His previous career high was 172 yards on Nov. 23, 2017 against the Dallas Cowboys. His career high for receptions is 15 in a 2015 game against Detroit.
“In games like this, you go play like this and lose, it probably gets overlooked,” Allen said. “It's not as meaningful, obviously, with the loss.”
The Chargers led 17-7 at halftime.
“When we were up by 10, I'm most nervous,” Lynn said. “When we're down, I'm OK because I know what these men are going to do but when we're up, we've got to figure out a way to finish and that could be play calling and that could be the mindset of our players.”
Defensive back Desmond King set up the Chargers first touchdown by recovering a fumble by Watson at Houston's 28-yard line and returning the ball 13 yards. Rivers threw a 7-yard pass to Allen two plays later for the score with 9:41 left in the first quarter.
The Chargers settled for a 34-yard field goal by Long on their next possession, four plays after Justin Jackson's apparent 6-yard touchdown run was nullified by a holding penalty against guard Dan Feeney.
The 15-play, 72-yard drive consumed 8:41 with Rivers completing six of eight passes for 61 yards, including a 23-yard completion to Dontrelle Inman one play before the apparent touchdown. Jackson ran for 32 yards on four carries.
The Texans scored their first touchdown on the ensuing possession on a 21-yard pass from Watson to tight end Darren Fells, who played basketball at Fullerton Union High School and UC Irvine.
The touchdown came two plays after Watson's 38-yard pass to Kenny Stills and a roughing the passer penalty against defensive end Joey Bosa.
The Chargers capitalized on 22- and 8-yard pass interference penalties for their second touchdown, a 12-yard pass from Rivers to Allen 22 seconds before halftime.
Rivers was six for seven for 61 yards on the eight-play, 89-yard drive that took 78 seconds.
Carlos Hyde ran three yards for Houston's first touchdown of the second half, one play after Watson's 30-yard pass to receiver Will Fuller.
The Chargers played without three starters from their season-opening 30-24 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts Sept. 8.
Safety Adrian Phillips was placed on reserve/injured Tuesday because of a broken forearm sustained in last Sunday's 13-10 loss at Detroit and must sit out at least eight weeks before being eligible to return to play.
Tight end Hunter Henry missed his second consecutive game because of a knee injury suffered in the opener. Cornerback Michael Davis also missed his second consecutive game because of a hamstring injury suffered in the opener.
Kicker Michael Badgley missed his third consecutive game because of a groin injury, forcing Long to handle field goals and extra points in addition to his usual punting duties.
The loss was the Chargers second in seven games against the Texans.
Photos: Getty Images