With the game sitting there waiting to be won, his final eight pass attempts fell incomplete, including one that was nullified by a defensive penalty.
Philip Rivers admitted Thursday that he was almost certain the Chargers were going to advance into field-goal range last week and beat Oakland in the closing seconds.
But, he added, it was an errant throw from way back in the opening quarter that “bothered me most because I really don’t know if I’ve ever missed that throw like that. Ever. I don’t know if I’ve missed one like that in the backyard.”
On the game’s first drive, Rivers had Keenan Allen alone on an in-route that would have put the Chargers somewhere close to the Raiders’ 10-yard line with a first down.
Instead, the pass soared over Allen and into the hands of safety Erik Harris, who then flipped the script — and the field — by returning the ball 59 yards to the Chargers’ 31.
Oakland eventually kicked a field goal and was on its way to a 26-24 victory that resulted in what appeared to be a season-high level of Chargers frustration.
“It wasn’t like it was a contested throw and I tried to squeeze it in there,” Rivers recalled. “It was wide open. That one bothers me. … It just sailed on me. I knew right away. It came out high and not good.”
The loss to the Raiders was a new low for the 2019 Chargers, who are 4-6 entering their Monday night date opposite AFC West-leading Kansas City in Mexico City.
Rivers finished the night with three interceptions, not counting the two that were wiped out by penalties. He hadn’t been picked off three times in a game since December 2017.
“Those things happen in this league,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He’s a good football player, a great one. Things happen.”
Reid, speaking Thursday on a conference call, explained that he got to know Rivers better one year at the Pro Bowl. He said Rivers’ ability to still play at an admirable level — just three weeks short of his 38th birthday — is “great for the NFL.”
This will be the 14th time these two have shared the same NFL field, with Rivers’ record against Reid-coached teams sitting at 4-9.
“I love coaching against great players, and he’s a great player,” Reid said. “I mean, he’s a future Hall of Famer, so I love playing against those kind of guys. ... He’s competitive, loves to play and is still playing at a high level.”
Famous for his G-rated trash talk on the field, Rivers has been known to bark at the opposing sideline and even the other team’s head coach. Reid has absorbed his share of jabs over the years.
“It’s all poetic,” Reid joked. “Listen, he’s competitive. I’m fine with it.”
The Chiefs figure to get an ultra-competitive Rivers on Monday, coming off a loss that left the quarterback visibly fuming in the visiting locker room in Oakland.
Rivers’ first two interceptions led to 10 points for the Raiders and his final interception sealed the game, ending a perplexing possession in which the Chargers gained no yards despite almost ideal circumstances.
Trailing by two, they had the ball at their 25-yard line, with 62 seconds remaining and all three timeouts.
Rivers said he trotted onto the field fully confident he was going to lead his team to a dramatic victory.
“It was what we all believed we were going to do,” he said. “Shoot, ‘We’re going to go 40 yards in a minute with three timeouts.’ We felt great about it. … And then we didn’t get it done. So it just feels that much worse.”
Field should be fine
The NFL tried to stage a game at Aztec Stadium last year, only to cancel the Rams-Chiefs matchup because of poor turf conditions blamed on rain and too much activity on the field, including a Shakira concert.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said he has no concerns about the venue this season.
“I’ve heard it’s nice,” he said, before joking, “No concerts the night before the game.”
Along with updated drainage and irrigation systems, new sod was recently installed. This won’t be Lynn’s first visit to the giant stadium that has hosted everything from the Olympics to World Cup finals to Michael Jackson.
As a member of the 1997 Denver Broncos, Lynn spent a week in Mexico City leading up to a preseason game there against Miami.
“The crowd was into it,” he said. “I think there were over 100,000 people there. People in Mexico, they really like American football. They come out and they support.”
Said running back Austin Ekeler: “I’ve heard that it’s a pretty spectacular place to play. It will probably be one of the biggest crowds we’ve played in front of. I look forward to the energy, especially in a different country.”
Safety Adrian Phillips returned to practice Thursday, his first action since suffering a broken arm in a Week 2 loss at Detroit. The Chargers have 21 days to activate Phillips or he must remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
Teams are allowed to active two players off the IR list. The Chargers hope to get All-Pro safety Derwin James back in December. He has been on injured reserve all season because of a stress fracture in his right foot.
Rookie safety Roderic Teamer returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis. He has missed the past two games because of a groin injury. Among the Chargers who didn’t practice was long snapper Cole Mazza, who was absent because of an illness.