Eli Manning takes a hit on a throw on another multi-interception day.
SAN DIEGO – The Chargers scored, cannons blasted and the Giants failed to fire back until it was too late inside Qualcomm Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Philip Rivers, once a top draft pick for the Giants before being traded for Eli Manning during the 2004 NFL draft, threw three touchdowns in the opening half, and the Chargers (6-7) won going away, 37-14, in front of 65,132 fans. The loss officially eliminates the Giants from the playoffs.
Rivers completed 21 of 28 passes for 249 yards while Manning managed 259 yards in the air while completing 20 of his 32 attempts. Manning threw two interceptions.
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Tom Coughlin is upset again at something on the field as his Giants drop their eighth game of the season.
The Giants face another tall task next Sunday. Seattle, a team contending for best record in the NFL and currently tops in the NFC, will meet the Giants at MetLife Stadium next Sunday.
Manning, who was San Diego’s top pick back in 2004, returned to town for the second time as a Giant, the first since 2005. He was booed when he ran onto the field before the game and each time he touched the ball thereafter. Rivers, meanwhile, drew even louder cheers in re-energizing the Chargers’ offense that scored a season-low 10 points last week.
Manning’s uneven season was captured on consecutive plays during the first quarter. First, he connected with wideout Hakeem Nicks for a 51-yard gain on a crossing pattern into the middle of the field. It was the longest reception or Nicks since the season opener against the Cowboys when he hauled in one pass for 57 yards, but his momentum did not continue. On the very next play, Manning’s pass was deflected by cornerback Shareece Wright, then picked off by linebacker Donald Butler and returned 30 yards.
Philip Rivers (r.) and Keenan Allen (l.) laugh after connecting for two touchdowns against the Giants.
Rivers explored all options before him. If he couldn’t find tight end Antonio Gates, his favorite target, Rivers located rookie receiver Keenan Allen for a 43-yard touchdown, laying the ball in with uncommon touch for Allen to catch in stride. If it wasn’t a dump off to tailback Ryan Matthews for a 11 yards, it was a pass out wide left to tailback Danny Woodhead for another first down. No matter, the direction, the Giants failed to identify the best route to heading off San Diego’s charge.
The Giants did not help themselves on either side of the ball. When Chargers kicker Nick Novak missed a 41-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, Giants cornerback Charles James was flagged for being offsides. Given the additional five yards, Novak connected from 36 yards out to give San Diego a 10-0 lead. Looking to close out the first half with any further damage, tailback Andre Brown lost a fumble just before the 2:00 warning. Then, in the third quarter, linebacker Spencer Paysinger, caught covering wideout Vincent Brown, was flagged for pass interference in the end zone. The Chargers scored three plays later. Finally, in the fourth quarter, Mathias Kiwanuka was called for unnecessary roughness.
Justin Tuck tacked on another sack to his season total, making it five sacks in the last two games when the pocket collapsed on Rivers in the second quarter. Rivers rebounded quickly, though, connecting with Gates for a gain of 15 yards on the next play. He then found wideout Vincent Brown for another 12 yards.
It was Tuck who stemmed the tide again toward the goal line as he wrapped Woodhead on a shovel pass into the middle of the line. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara lost Keenan Allen on the next play, though, falling backward in the end zone as San Diego seized a 17-0 lead. By halftime, Rivers completed passes to seven receivers.
Tuck forced fumble on opening play of third quarter with a strip sack of Rivers. The Giants recovered at the 18 and running back Peyton Hillis punched the ball in for a touchdown seven plays and four minutes later to make it a 24-7 game.
None of it was enough. Even after Rivers was relieved by reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in the final minutes, the Giants knew they faced a cold reality on their return home.