Chargers 24

(4-5, 2-3 away)

Buccaneers 34

(5-4, 3-2 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, November 11, 2012

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL 

1 2 3 4 T
SD 14 7 0 324
TB 7 10 7 1034

Top Performers

Passing: P. Rivers (SD) - 337 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: D. Martin (TB) - 19 CAR, 68 YDS

Receiving: D. Alexander (SD) - 5 REC, 134 YDS, 1 TD

Streaking Bucs beat Chargers for third straight win

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Two touchdowns on offense and one each on defense and special teams. Now that's what Greg Schiano classifies as a real team victory.

Tampa Bay's suddenly potent offense got some help from unlikely sources in rolling to another high-scoring victory over Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Josh Freeman threw a pair of touchdown passes and the surging Bucs scored on a blocked punt and Leonard Johnson's 83-yard interception return to beat the Chargers 34-24 for their third straight win.

"Our guys played team football. That's what we needed to do. It's like a pitcher when he goes out there. Maybe he doesn't have his fastball that day, but he works the whole game with different pitches and battles through it," Schiano said. "That's what our team did, held each other up."

Freeman has thrown for 13 TDs with just one interception in his past five games, helping the Bucs (5-4) win four times to climb over .500 following a 1/3 start.

Normally known for playing stingy defense but sputtering offensively, Tampa Bay has scored 28 or more in five consecutive games for the first time, averaging 35 per game during the stretch.

They did it this time with help from linebacker Adam Heyward, who scooped up a punt blocked by Dekoda Watson and ran 29 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.

Rivers threw for 337 yards and three TDs for San Diego. However, he was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter to ruin any chance of the Chargers (4-5) coming from behind.

The Chargers outgained the Bucs 426 yards to 279, had 23 first downs to Tampa Bay's 12 and finished with more than a 13-minute advantage in time of possession yet lost the fourth time in five games.

"It's not acceptable to play hard and not win, and that's what happened," Chargers coach Norv Turner said in response to a question about his team's effort.

"Is it acceptable? No, it's not acceptable. Is it acceptable having a blocked punt and an interception for a touchdown? No," Turner added. "That's not what we're trying to accomplish out there. We're trying to go win games, and those things are keeping us from winning."

Tampa Bay linebacker Quincy Black was carted off the field after tackling the Chargers running back Ryan Mathews for a 1-yard loss late in the third quarter.

The Bucs did not make an announcement on the specific nature of the injury, but trainers examined the sixth-year pro for several minutes before immobilizing his neck and back and strapping him to a stretcher.

Schiano said Black was taken to a hospital for observation, but that the club expected him to be OK.

"We think he's going to be OK, but he's got to work through some things," said Schiano, who was the coach at Rutgers when former Scrlet Knights player Eric LeGrand broke two vertebrae and suffered a serious spinal cord injury in October 2010 during a kickoff return against Army.

The first-year NFL coach said thoughts of the paralyzed defensive lineman went through his mind when Black remained on the ground.

"I thought about it immediately. When a guy goes down and he's still," Schiano said before stopping abruptly. "The good thing was Quincy immediately moved his right arm, so that was a relief."

Freeman threw scoring passes of 3 yards to Dallas Clark and 15 to Tiquan Underwood, the latter set up by the quarterback's 4-yard run on fourth-and-inches, and a 31-yard completion to Vincent Jackson. The former Chargers receiver had five receptions for 59 yards in his first game against his old team.

Connor Barth kicked two field goals for Tampa Bay, including a 45-yarder that clinched the game after Rivers threw his second interception with San Diego trailing 31-24.

Rivers also made a huge mistake on his first interception, releasing a pass that went straight to Johnson as the quarterback was scampering out of bounds to avoid a sack. Johnson took off up the sideline, running through lineman Jeromey Clary's potential tackle near midfield and outrunning the rest of the pursuit to the end zone to put Tampa Bay up 31-21 early in the fourth quarter.

"In hindsight, not only do I wish I was throwing it over his head, I probably shouldn't have thrown the ball, period. Field goal ties it up. Quick decisions, and I made the wrong one there," Rivers said.

"It's a humbling game because it shows how one play, essentially one play, can ruin a game," the San Diego quarterback added. "We killed ourselves on the interception for touchdown. We were rolling pretty good most of the game."

Jackson had three 1,000-yard seasons and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in seven years with the Chargers, who have not been as potent offensively without him.

Facing the NFL's lowest-ranked pass defense, though, San Diego had three scoring drives of 80 yards in the first half. Rivers was 16 of 18 for 218 yards and no interceptions in the first two quarters. The Chargers held the ball for more than 8 minutes before taking a 21-17 lead on Malcolm Floyd's 3-yard TD reception with 27 seconds left in the half.

Danario Alexander scored on an 80-yard reception in which he spun out of the grasp of Johnson on San Diego's opening possession. Rivers later threw a 13-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates for a 14-7 lead.

A week after rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-32 victory at Oakland, Bucs rookie sensation Doug Martin set up Clark's first-quarter touchdown with a 42-yard reception and finished with 68 yards rushing on 19 carries.

Freeman completed 14 of 20 passes for 210 yards. His 54-yard completion to Mike Williams on third-and-12 set up Barth's 40-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Rivers finished 29 of 37 and was sacked twice. Alexander had five receptions for 134 yards.

Game notes

Gates has 80 career TD receptions, one behind Hall of Famer Lance Alworth for San Diego's franchise record. ... The Bucs beat the Chargers for only the second time in 10 meetings all-time. ... Bucs CB Eric Wright left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2312
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6543
Total Yards426279
Yards per play6.66.5
Total Drives108
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs02

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

sdTD14:13Danario Alexander 80 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yds, 1:03
tbTD9:03Dallas Clark 3 Yard Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 5:00
sdTD4:27Antonio Gates 13 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 4:38
tbFG12:58Connor Barth 40 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 58 yds, 3:09
tbTD9:07Adam Hayward 29 Yard Return of Blocked Punt (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 16 yds, 3:57
sdTD0:34Malcom Floyd 3 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 80 yds, 8:28
tbTD4:16Tiquan Underwood 15 Yard Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 59 yds, 3:32
tbTD13:42Leonard Johnson 83 Yard Interception Return (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 57 yds, 5:45
sdFG7:07Nick Novak 34 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 64 yds, 6:20
tbFG1:12Connor Barth 45 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 18 yds, 2:02

Research Notes

Philip Rivers was exceptional throwing inside the numbers on Sunday, completing all 17 passes for 236 yards and all three of his touchdowns against the Buccaneers. Rivers was not nearly as effective throwing down the sideline, completing 4-of-9 attempts for 66 yards and both of his interceptions at least 10 yards downfield outside the numbers. Rivers tripled his interception total this season on deep sideline throws, including one returned 83 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Leonard Johnson.
With his touchdown today, Antonio Gates is trailing Lance Alworth by one for the most touchdown receptions in Chargers history.
Philip Rivers threw his second career touchdown pass of 80-plus yards. He's the first Chargers quarterback since merger with multiple 80-yard TD passes.

ESPN Stats & Information