They had all three of their timeouts left as they took possession with 62 seconds remaining.
When the Chargers relinquished the ball — and the ballgame — 42 seconds later, they still had all of their timeouts left.
Despite the circumstances giving them every possible play-call option, the Chargers never attempted a run during their disastrous final series Thursday in a 26-24 loss at Oakland.
“When you get into a flow on offense moving the ball down the field, yeah, you can work a run play in there,” coach Anthony Lynn said Friday. “But, I think where we started out, trying to get a quick completion just to get the drive started and, hell, we never got the drive started. We never completed a pass.”
Philip Rivers threw eight consecutive times, the first seven attempts falling incomplete before the final one was intercepted to seal the Chargers’ fate.
A defensive holding penalty on their first fourth-down play nullified an incompletion and gave Rivers a first down. But he still failed to advance the offense one yard when a field goal was all the Chargers needed.
“It’s easy to second-guess quarterbacks the day after the game when you’re not out there under that pressure making those decisions,” Lynn said. “But we didn’t get it done as a team. I wouldn’t put all of that on Philip.”
Because of injuries, Rivers was operating behind an offensive line that spent most of Thursday night with only two projected starters still playing. He was sacked five times and hit on five other occasions.
He also was working with a young play-caller in his second week on the job. Shane Steichen took over after Ken Whisenhunt was fired as offensive coordinator on Oct. 28.
“I had no problem with those plays that were called, none at all,” Lynn said. “We tried to put our playmakers in position to make plays, and I thought we did. It’s unfortunate we didn’t execute. But I don’t think it had anything to do with Shane’s inexperience calling plays.”
Six of the eight passes Rivers attempted traveled at least 15 yards, the Chargers going for bigger chunks rather than taking a more measured approach in attempting to move into field-goal position.
Lynn said Rivers was simply trying to exploit what the Raiders defense was giving him, noting that one of the longer attempts would have resulted in a big play had the ball not been overthrown.
Six of those final eight passes were intended for wide receivers — including three that went to Andre Patton and Jason Moore, neither of whom had a catch in the game — and the other two were thrown in the direction of tight end Hunter Henry.
“If you watch the film and you look at those plays, you have short routes, you have intermediate routes, you have long routes,” Lynn said. “We had options there. We didn’t have to throw the ball down the field.”
But that’s what the Chargers did and the decision left their offense stalled, just like their season, which now sits at 4-6.
Along with his three interceptions, Rivers had the only fumble that right guard Michael Schofield recovered for the Chargers. Rivers’ first two interceptions led to 10 Oakland points, putting the Chargers in another first-quarter hole.
“He made some good plays, and he made some bad decisions,” Lynn said. “A 16-year veteran, he knows that.”
Rivers has thrown 10 interceptions after finishing the past two seasons with 10 and 12, respectively.
The Chargers are minus-six in turnover differential. Only six teams in the league are worse and those six have combined to win just seven times.
“We have to figure out a way to get better,” Lynn said. “We know we can’t win turning the football over. It’s been a problem this year.”
Rivers will turn 38 in December. He is unsigned beyond this year, both he and the team deciding to shelve extension talks until after the season. He has said he wants to play at least into 2020, when the Chargers will move into their new home, SoFi Stadium.
Given the way this season has turned after beginning with high expectations, there has been mounting speculation that the Chargers might be better off moving on from Rivers.
“I don’t have the luxury right now to look beyond this season,” Lynn said. “Right now, it’s one week at a time for me. Philip is our starting quarterback. I’m trying to figure out how to win the next game with him.”
Right tackle Sam Tevi underwent surgery Friday to repair a meniscus problem in his knee. Lynn called the procedure “nothing serious” and said Tevi’s season isn’t over.
Left tackle Russell Okung suffered a strained groin in the first quarter Thursday, Lynn labeling him as “questionable” moving into next week.
“It’s better news than what I thought,” Lynn said. “I’ll take it.”
The Chargers won’t return to practice until Tuesday in Colorado Springs. They are traveling there to train at altitude in preparation for their next game, Nov. 18 against Kansas City in Mexico City.