The San Diego Chargers jumped out to a 28-7 lead early in the third quarter, but the Houston Texans mounted a furious comeback to win, capped by a fourth-quarter pick-six and a last-second field goal.
Final grades and analysis for San Diego can be found below.
Final Score: Houston 31, San Diego 28
Game Analysis for San Diego
Pass Offense: Quarterback Philip Rivers was surgical in the first half and on the opening drive of the second, but things began to go downhill after that.
With the team struggling to get things going on the ground, the Chargers had no choice but to lean on the passing game, even when playing with the lead. A fourth-quarter pick-six by the Texans’ Brian Cushing tied the game and was a huge momentum-shifter.
After a hot start, Rivers finished the game 14-of-29 for 195 yards with four touchdowns and one very disastrous interception.
Run Offense: San Diego cannot be happy with the performance of the rushing offense on Sunday. The team struggled to find any kind of consistency on the ground, and its inability to do so was a major reason why the Chargers were still passing with a lead in the fourth quarter.
Starting running back Ryan Mathews was a disappointment in his debut in the new offense, rushing for just 33 yards on 13 carries.
Pass Defense: San Diego managed to at least contain Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and the rest of the Texans passing offense in the first half. Not so much in the second.
Schaub shredded the San Diego defense for 356 yards and three touchdowns and helped Houston charge back against the Chargers.
Run Defense: The Texans had their way on the ground for much of the first half, and the trend continued well into the second.
To be fair, the Chargers were likely more concerned with defending long plays downfield as the team played the majority of the game with a sizable lead. Unfortunately, once the game was tied, they still couldn't stop the run.
Houston running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined for 112 yards on 27 carries and helped the Texans grind out the clock in preparation for the game-winning kick.
Special Teams: While both the offense and defense had their ups and downs during the course of Sunday’s games, the Chargers’ special teams unit proved to be the most consistent group on the field.
San Diego was solid in both the kicking and return game and made no major mistakes worth noting. Fozzy Whittaker had an exciting 42-yard kick return in the second half, which was probably the best special teams play of the night.
Coaching: Head coach Mike McCoy continued the aggressive play-calling to open the second half, but failed to properly manage the game after gaining a large lead.
McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will likely be questioned heavily for abandoning the running game, even with a late lead.
Sure, the Chargers were struggling to move the ball on the ground. However, a little clock management and a couple of punts may have prevented the Texans from having the time to mount a comeback, and would have almost certainly prevented that game-changing interception thrown by Rivers.
First Half Analysis for San Diego
Pass Offense: As many expected, new head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt have Philip Rivers and the rest of the passing attack clicking early.
Rivers has already thrown three touchdown passes with 112 yards and eight completions on 14 attempts.
Run Offense: Running back Ryan Mathews (3.3 yards per carry) continues to struggle with consistency, even in McCoy's system. However, the Chargers have had a few big plays on the ground and have managed to keep the Texans honest.
Pass Defense: An early interception set up an easy San Diego touchdown to open the first quarter. However, the Chargers' pass defense has been only adequate since.
Since throwing the early pick, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Run Defense: A fourth-down stop in the middle of the second quarter has been one of the few highlights of the Chargers' run defense so far. San Diego hasn't looked particularly good against Houston's rushing attack, but few teams likely will this season.
Texans running back Ben Tate has been especially effective, gaining 39 yards on just six carries. Things would look much worse if Houston didn't have several big runs negated by penalties.
Special Teams: San Diego has been solid on kickoff coverage and hasn't made any notable mistakes in the kicking game.
There have been no returns for the Chargers.
Coaching: McCoy had installed a solid game plan, attacking Houston's pass defense aggressively, while John Pagano's defense has done enough to keep the Chargers on top.
McCoy's decision to go for it on 4th-and-short in the second quarter led to San Diego's second touchdown and really helped build momentum for the Chargers.