The Los Angeles Chargers rallied from 14 points down in the first quarter to beat the San Francisco 49ers 29-27 Sunday from ROKiT Field at StubHub Center.
Philip Rivers threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns on a day when he also passed John Elway for the eighth-most passing yards in league history. Running back Melvin Gordon racked up 159 total yards, caught seven passes and scored his fifth touchdown of the season. The game was put on ice in the fourth quarter after rookie safety Derwin James hit 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard, causing him to make an errant throw that was intercepted by defensive end Isaac Rochell.
Los Angeles improved to 2-2 on the season and secured their first home win of 2018 despite an inauspicious start.
Less than one minute into the game, Rivers was intercepted by 49ers cornerback Antone Exum Jr., who returned the ball 32 yards for a touchdown. A Robbie Gould extra point gave San Francisco an early 7-0 lead.
The Chargers went three-and-out on their second offensive possession, and the third resulted in a 54-yard missed field goal by Caleb Sturgis. San Francisco capitalized on its field position with a six-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass from Beathard to wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.
Down two scores early, the Chargers offense marched 75 yards in seven plays. Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates for a five-yard touchdown, but Sturgis missed the extra point. It was 14-6 San Francisco after the first quarter. The Rivers-to-Gates touchdown was the 88th of their career.
After a 49ers field goal, Rivers threw his second touchdown in as many drives – this time connecting with running back Austin Ekeler for a 22-yard strike. Rivers then hit Gordon for the two-point conversion to tighten San Francisco’s lead to 17-14.
With 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter, cornerback Desmond King returned a Bradley Pinion punt 56 yards to San Francisco’s 33-yard line. Two plays later, Sturgis’ 48-yard field goal tied the game 17-17 at halftime.
James’ third sack of the season set the tone for the second half. San Francisco was again forced to punt to King, whose 21-yard return put the Chargers at their own 49-yard line. Six plays later, Gordon caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to put Los Angeles up 23-17 after Sturgis’ second missed extra point of the day.
The 49ers – aided by a pair of roughing-the-passer penalties – were threatening to score at Los Angeles’ eight-yard line until a Beathard pass bounced off the chest of Garrett Celek and into the arms of cornerback Trevor Williams. Williams returned the ball 86 yards to San Francisco’s 12-yard line.
A Sturgis 25-yard field goal would increase Los Angeles’ lead to 26-17 but it didn’t hold for long. Later in the quarter, Beathard hooked up with tight end George Kittle for an 82-yard touchdown. It was 26-24 Chargers after the third quarter.
Both teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter before Rochell’s interception sealed the win.
The Chargers will take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 5. Kickoff is on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1:05 p.m. Pacific from ROKiT Field at StubHub Center (CBS).