Broncos ground the Philip Rivers-led passing attack in Chargers’ loss

Chargers' Philip Rivers drops back to pass in Sunday's game against the Broncos.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers drops back to pass during the 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Philip Rivers passed 48 times Sunday against Denver and amassed only 211 yards through the air.

That’s an average of 4.4 yards per attempt, which sounds awfully low and does, in fact, represent one of the least productive days of Rivers’ career.

A starter since 2006, he has finished only four games with a worse yards-per-attempt number, and each one of those came a long time ago.


The most recent happened on Nov. 11, 2007, when Rivers was 13 of 24 for 104 yards in a victory over Indianapolis. His career mark for yards-per-attempt is 7.8.

“We wanted to take some shots, but they weren’t going to give it to us,” Rivers said Sunday. “They did a nice job keeping us in front of them. We had a few opportunities … but they did a great job.”

Veteran Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been in this boat before, another slow start at 2-3, and knows playoff chances hinge on a fast recovery.

Oct. 6, 2019

The Broncos designed their defense to prevent big plays, and the Chargers had only one play that gained as many as 20 yards. That was a Rivers connection with Mike Williams.

Otherwise, Denver’s defensive backs kept almost everything in front of them and limited the chances to stretch the field.

Keenan Allen had four receptions for only 18 yards, and Travis Benjamin, the team’s fastest receiver and best deep threat, was targeted just twice, finishing with one catch for 13 yards.


“We were kind of back and forth, that cat-and-mouse game, trying to counter what they were doing,” Rivers said. “It just wasn’t going to be one of those 350-yard days, up and down the field. That’s a good defense. …

“Once our defense settled in, I knew a point in the third quarter there where I said, ‘They’re done, their offense is done.’ I meant that in respect to our defense. … I said, ‘Let’s find a way to go win the game, score a couple touchdowns and win it.’ We just didn’t get it done.”