Chargers take 21-7 halftime lead over Texans
SAN DIEGO -- Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, including one 15 seconds into the game, and the San Diego Chargers took a 21-7 halftime lead over the Houston Texans in Mike McCoy's head coaching debut on Monday night.
The Chargers got off to a fast start in the NFL debut of McCoy, Denver's former offensive coordinator, with big plays on the first two snaps from scrimmage.
San Diego defensive tackle Cam Thomas intercepted Matt Schaub's pass on the first play from scrimmage. Rivers then hit running back Ryan Mathews with a 14-yard touchdown pass on the next play to give the Chargers a 7-0 lead.
Rivers, who completed 8 of 14 passes for 112 yards in the first half, also connected with Eddie Royal on a 6-yard TD pass early in the second quarter and had a 10-yard scoring pass to Vincent Brown with 18 seconds to go before halftime.
Brown was originally ruled out just short of the goal line, but the play was overturned on replay by referee Scott Green, who ruled Brown hit the pylon with the ball before he went out of bounds.
Houston's only score came on Schaub's 1-yard TD pass to tight end Owen Daniels in the first quarter that capped a 10-play, 71-yard drive to tie the score with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
But the Texans had other scoring chances.
On fourth-and-inches from the Chargers 27 in the second quarter, running back Arian Foster was stuffed at the line for no gain.
Schaub connected on a long pass to wide receiver Andre Johnson, who jumped over cornerback Richard Marshall at the Chargers 45-yard line with 4:53 left in the half. Johnson hit the ground and when safety Marcus Gilchrist went flying over Johnson, the Texans wide out got up and ran into the end zone.
The play was reviewed and Green ruled that Johnson was touched by Gilchrist for a 27-yard gain to the San Diego 40.
Schaub finished the half completing 12 of 18 for 147 yards as the Texans outgained San Diego 220 yards to 173. Johnson caught four passes for 71 yards.
San Diego took the lead in the second quarter when it used a long drive behind the running of Mathews, who gained 30 yards on six carries and Rivers' passing. Rivers twice completed passes on third down to keep the drive alive, including a 15-yard pass to tight end Antonio Gates to the Texans 47.
The Chargers got a break when Houston cornerback Brice McCain was called for a 21-yard pass interference penalty down to the Texans 6. Rivers then connected with Royal in the corner of the end zone.
There were two notable absences from the starting lineups.
Chargers rookie inside linebacker Manti Te'o, the club's second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, was inactive for the game. Te'o suffered a sprained right foot after playing only nine snaps in San Diego's first preseason game on Aug. 8 and has not practiced since.
Houston started the game at its 14-yard line and on its first play, Schaub's short pass was tipped by linebacker Jarret Johnson and picked off by Thomas for no gain.
On the next play, Mathews beat linebacker Brooks Reed on a swing route out of the backfield, caught the ball at the 3-yard line and fell into the end zone for the touchdown.
The Texans took over at their 29-yard line with 9:02 left and got their initial first down on a 12-yard pass from Schaub to tight end Garrett Graham.
Schaub also hit Daniels on an 18-yard pass to the San Diego 33.
Ben Tate carried 14 yards to the Chargers 18 and Foster carried nine yards to the 1, setting up Schaub's TD pass.
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Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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