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(Monday, December 5th)
Final Score: San Diego 38, Jacksonville 14
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - It's December. And that usually means very good things for the San Diego Chargers.
Philip Rivers threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns and Ryan Mathews ran for 112 yards and another score, as San Diego started a new month with a very familiar outcome in a 38-14 waxing of Jacksonville.
The Chargers improved to 16-2 in December under head coach Norv Turner in the team's first victory since October 9. Rivers improved to 23-2 in December and January, the best winning percentage by any quarterback during those months since the 1950 merger.
San Diego (5-7) snapped a six-game losing streak in the process and moved within two games of both Denver and Oakland in a wide-open AFC West race.
Rivers had Malcom Floyd (four catches, 108 yards and a score) back after a four-game absence due to a hip injury, and the two mainstays also chipped in, as Vincent Jackson racked up 72 yards receiving and a score while Antonio Gates caught six balls for 70 yards.
"We got a complete team effort. I thought we played well in all three phases," said San Diego head coach Norv Turner. "When Philip has all his guys and he can operate how he did today, he's as good as anybody."
The head coaching debut of Mel Tucker was not a pleasant one for Jacksonville, as the same issues came to the forefront on Monday night. Blaine Gabbert threw for just 195 yards with two early touchdowns, but he also threw an interception and couldn't lead the troops to any second half points. The defense was again a problem, surrendering big plays and 433 total yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew, the league's leading rusher, ran for 97 yards and also caught six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown for the Jaguars (3-9), who have dropped three straight and gave up 28 unanswered points in their first game since long-time head coach Jack Del Rio was fired last Tuesday.
"We didn't play well enough to win," Jones-Drew said.
Three straight calls for Jones-Drew ended two yards shy of the marker then the Chargers turned to their running game with greater success. Forty-four of the drive's 70 yards came on the ground with Mathews busting off 31 yards and Mike Tolbert rumbling through the middle for a 13-yard score. In-between, Rivers completed three balls, including a dangerous crossing route to Gates, who tapped the ball up in the air over two defenders and into his hands for a 13-yard connection.
San Diego had a stranglehold on the momentum, again going on an extended march for points. A 27-yard pass from Rivers to Floyd kept the drive alive, but the Jaguars held in the red zone, forcing Nick Novak's 29-yard boot.
The steady diet of Jones-Drew started to pay dividends on Jacksonville's next drive. A short 13-yard toss to the running back ignited the crowd, and a 12- yard toss to Marcedes Lewis pushed the possession into San Diego territory. Jones-Drew finished off the drive by taking a short pass from Gabbert and navigating nine yards to pay dirt.
Another touchdown drive, another healthy workload for Jones-Drew later in the second quarter. He ran for 11 and five yards on successive runs before taking a shovel pass and rumbling through wide open pastures for 48 yards to the four-yard line. The march was capped by Gabbert's five-yard touchdown toss to Cecil Shorts for a 14-10 lead.
From the top of the mountain, it was a quick slide to the bottom in the midst of a Rivers onslaught. The much-maligned quarterback completed a 68-yard march late in the first half with a deft 22-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Brown, who adjusted on the ball and cradled it into his chest for the score.
After an interception, Rivers wasted little time cashing in with a 20-yard dart to Jackson and then a 35-yard hook-up with the wideout for a 24-14 game at the half.
Jones-Drew had 50 yards rushing and five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown during the first half to keep the Jags within shouting distance.
The second half started like the first half ended: with a Rivers aerial show. The gunslinger played pitch-and-catch on six- and seven-yard completions to Gates in front of a long ball down the right sideline to Floyd, who raced the rest of the distance for a 52-yard touchdown.
San Diego added an another score in the fourth quarter as Mathews burst out to his left and tip-toed down the sideline for a 31-yard sprint to pay dirt.
The Chargers hold a 3-2 edge in the all-time series, but took their first victory in Jacksonville... Defensive coordinator Tucker took over on an interim basis for Del Rio. Jacksonville's owner Wayne Weaver also announced an agreement to sell the team to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan...Rivers, who had thrown a league-high 17 interceptions this season, finished without a mistake on Monday night...Tolbert amassed 24 yards on the ground...Lewis caught three passes for 27 yards.
12/06 00:53:10 ET