Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn blamed too few takeaways and too many turnovers for one of the franchise’s biggest dropoffs in victories in its 60-season history.
“We did not take away the ball enough and we turned the ball over too much this year,” Lynn said after his team ended its season Sunday with a 31-21 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I have to go back and look at the coaching staff and myself and see the positions we put the guys in and why all of a sudden, we turned the ball over more this year than we did in the last couple of years. It is a team effort. It is everybody.”
The Chargers committed 31 turnovers — 20 interceptions by Philip Rivers, including two Sunday, and lost 11 fumbles — while making 14 takeaways – – 11 interceptions and recovering three fumbles — en route to a 5-11 season with six losses in their final seven games and a 0-6 record against AFC West opponents.
In 2018, when they went 12-4 and qualified for the NFL playoffs as a wild card team, the Chargers committed 19 turnovers — 12 interceptions by Rivers and lost seven fumbles — and made 20 takeaways — 13 interceptions and recovering seven fumbles.
In 2017, Lynn’s first year as coach, when the Chargers were 9-7 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker, they committed 15 turnovers – 11 interceptions (10 by Rivers and one by Kellen Clemens) and lost four fumbles — and made 27 takeaways — 18 interceptions and recovered nine fumbles.
The Chargers seven-victory dropoff from 2018 matched the second largest in team history. They were 1-15 in 2000 after going 8-8 in 1999. The Chargers were 4-10 in 1962 after going 12-2 the previous season.
Rivers acknowledged he “didn’t do enough this year to help us win more football games and I take responsibility for that.”
Rivers, who turned 38 on Dec. 8, when he threw three touchdown passes in a 45-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars that would be their last of the season, said he plans to play in 2020.
“Where that is going to be will get sorted out over the next few months,” said Rivers, who has played his entire 16-season career with the Chargers. “I’ve never been in this position. I don’t even know when the league year starts. We’ll just kind of see. I’m very thankful for the 16 years and if there is another, I’ll be thankful for that.”
Lynn said a timeline for a “decision at the quarterback position” was “not something I am thinking much about right now.”
“I feel for the guys in the locker room, staff,” Lynn said. “We lost a hard-fought game. When the dust settles, we will evaluate everyone, and we will see who we are bringing back.”
When asked if he has been told if he will be returning for a fourth season, Lynn responded, “Unless you know something I don’t know, yeah.”
The Chargers were done in Sunday in part by two of the longest plays in Chiefs history.
After Melvin Gordon’s 5-yard touchdown run on the Chargers’ first drive of the third quarter gave them a 14-10 lead, Mecole Hardman returned the ensuing kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown, the third-longest kickoff return in the franchise’s 60-season history.
On the first play after a punt, Damien Williams ran 84 yards for a touchdown, increasing Kansas City’s lead to 24-14 with six minutes, 26 seconds left in the third quarter. The run matched the fourth-longest in franchise history.
“We had two guys try to make the play,” Lynn said. “I think they ran into each other and fell off the ball carrier, but we had some guys slow down. The pursuit slowed down a bit because they thought someone else made the play.”
The Chargers cut the deficit to 24-21 with 5:23 remaining in the fourth quarter on Rivers’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry. The Chiefs responded by driving 77 yards on eight plays, sealing the victory on Williams’ 7-yard touchdown run with 2:37 to play.
The Chargers outgained Kansas City 366 yards to 336 and led 25-16 in first downs and 36:04-23:56 in time of possession before a crowd at Arrowhead Stadium announced at 73,680.
Rivers completed 31 of 46 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns.
Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 25 passes for 174 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson 2:16 before halftime, helping the Chiefs (12-4) to their sixth consecutive victory. He also had one pass intercepted.
Williams ran for 124 yards on 12 carries, one yard short of his regular-season high, set Nov. 3 in a 26-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. He also rushed for 129 yards in a 31-13 playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts Jan. 12.
Kansas City opened the scoring on Harrison Butker’s 40-yard field goal with 1:29 left in the first quarter, completing a 15-play, 62-yard drive.
Keenan Allen made a game high-equaling nine catches, giving him 104 for the season, erasing the previous Chargers record of 102 he set in 2017.
Allen moved into a tie for 10th with Malcom Floyd in team history in touchdown receptions with 34 when he caught a 12-yard pass from Rivers with 11:44 left in the second quarter.
Austin Ekeler also made nine catches giving him 90 for the season, second-most by a Charger running back behind Pro Football Hall of Fame member LaDainian Tomlinson, who made 100 in 2003.