Missed Opportunities Cost Chargers

The Chargers played well enough to get more than one chance to overtake the favored Patriots. Alas, San Diego choked on every tantalizing opportunity before falling, 35-21.

It's not often an offense racks up 470 total yards and leaves the game disappointed. But that is exactly what happened to the Chargers.

Despite huge days by Vincent Jackson (10 catches, 172 yards, two scores) and Ryan Mathews (126 yards from scrimmage, one score), the offense imploded.

Philip Rivers threw two interceptions for the second consecutive week. Both picks came with the Chargers in scoring position, taking points off the board in a contest destined to be a shootout.

FB Mike Tolbert
Donald Miralle/Getty
Mike Tolbert fell short on fourth-and-goal from a half-yard out and also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter with San Diego in position for the go-ahead score.

In between squandering promising drives, the offense moved the ball at will. Rivers averaged more than 13 yards on his 29 completions, despite playing most of the game without Malcom Floyd, who injured his groin making a spectacular catch on the Chargers' second drive.

The defense was destroyed in the first half -- Tom Brady completed 20 of 23 passes and the Pats converted six of seven third downs while scoring on all four possessions -- but played much better after intermission. Greg Manusky's unit got three straight stops after the break, only to collapse after Tolbert's fumble gave away momentum for good.

Lightning Quicks

--After not giving up a catch to a tight end in Week 1, the Chargers watched the Patriots' Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski combine for 11 receptions, 148 yards and three scores.

--On the other side of the field, Antonio Gates was held without a catch. He appeared to struggle getting in and out of his routes. He was targeted twice: the first pass was intercepted, as Rivers was under duress thanks to poor blocking by Jeromey Clary; the second pass resulted in a pass interference penalty that set up Jackson's first TD.

--Bryan Walters made his first career catch, good for 6 yards.

--New PK Nick Novak did not try any field goals, but went three-for-three on extra points. Two of his four kickoffs went for touchbacks.

--Rivers also lost his first fumble of the season, resulting in a four-turnover day.

--On the bright side, San Diego's offense was outstanding on third down, converting 10-of-12 opportunities (83 percent).

--Both teams averaged better than 7 yards per play, displaying the kind of firepower expected from a pair of offensive juggernauts.

--The Chargers' next two games are at home against the winless Chiefs and Dolphins, giving Norv Turner's team a chance to avoid a fifth straight 2-3 start.

What are Chargers fans saying about Sunday's loss? See in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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