SAN DIEGO (The Sports Xchange) — Philip Rivers struggled with his composure and not because the San Diego Chargers snapped a five-game home losing streak.
Sunday’s 30-14 win over the Miami Dolphins meant more than that. In potentially their final game at Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers (4-10) produced one of their most complete efforts of the season in dominating Miami (5-9).
The crowd chanted “San Diego” during the Chargers’ last possession. A more appropriate cry would have been “Danny Woodhead.”
Woodhead scored a career-high four touchdowns it possibly the team’s final act in San Diego. The Chargers are among three NFL teams considering a move next season to the Los Angeles area.
Woodhead scored on receptions of 20, 9, and 9 yards and had a 2-yard run. But his performance was overshadowed by tears and sniffles as a team which has been in town since 1961 could exit.
“I’m feeling how special it has been and maybe it is for the last time,” a misty-eyed Rivers said. “But we don’t know that.
“This affects more people than just ourselves. We get so caught up in what we do you forget how many people are involved — the fans, the people that have been part of the stadium that make all these memories we have.”
The Chargers made life difficult for Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He was sacked three times, with linebacker Melvin Ingram collecting a pair for the Chargers, and the Dolphins lost for the fourth time in five games to clinch a losing season for the first time since 2012.
“I’m disappointed, frustrated, upset, mad, angry — any adjective you can think of right now,” Tannehill said. “To come out and play like this on both sides of the ball is unacceptable in every sense of the word.”
Rivers completed 26 of 36 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns. He threw two interceptions, but recovered the fumble off his first one when safety Reshad Jones was stripped of the ball during his return by left guard Orlando Franklin.
Tannehill passed for 216 yards, connecting on 20 of 34 attempts.
The Chargers limited the Dolphins to 44 rushing yards, San Diego’s best effort in run defense this season.
“The front seven said they are not going to run the ball on us,” inside linebacker Denzel Perryman said. “If the defensive line doesn’t make the tackle the linebackers will.”
Added interim coach Dan Campbell: “We just couldn’t ever establish the run game. It affected everything else that we did.”
Woodhead contributed his third scoring reception with four minutes remaining. He’s the first Charger since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007 against the Oakland Raiders to score four touchdowns in a game.
Tannehill’s 1-yard run late in the game made it appear the game was much closer than it really was.
Miami pulled to within 23-7 when running back Jay Ajayi rushed in from 12 yards in the closing minutes of the third quarter.
Woodhead added his third touchdown in the last minute of the second quarter and the Chargers took a 23-0 edge into the locker room.
The Chargers snapped a long drought when collecting their first rushing touchdown since the season opener. Woodhead scored from 2 yards out for a 16-0 San Diego advantage. The drive’s big play was a 31-yard completion from Rivers to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman.
San Diego pushed its cushion to 9-0 on Josh Lambo’s 28-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Chargers scored their first touchdown in three home games midway through the first quarter.
Rivers spotted linebacker Kevin Sheppard covering Woodhead and took advantage. Woodhead blew past Sheppard and caught a 20-yard touchdown. Lambo missed the extra point for a 6-0 Chargers lead.
Rivers knew this game meant something extra as well.
“It was emotional,” he said. “But I think we found a way to end it on a happy note.”
NOTES: Chargers LT King Dunlap (ankle) missed his seventh game of the season. … WR Stevie Johnson (groin) was inactive. … NT Sean Lissemore (shoulder) didn’t play. … Sunday was likely the final home game for WR Malcom Floyd and TE Antonio Gates. Both are considering retiring after the season. … Dolphins RT Jason Fox started in place of Ja’Wuan James. … LT Branden Albert left the game in the first quarter with a leg injury. … The Dolphins close the season by entertaining the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.
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