Final

Bills 10

(5-8, 1-6 away)

Chargers 37

(6-7, 4-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, December 11, 2011

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
BUF 0 0 10 010
SD 7 9 14 737

Top Performers

Passing: P. Rivers (SD) - 240 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: R. Mathews (SD) - 20 CAR, 114 YDS

Receiving: S. Johnson (BUF) - 4 REC, 116 YDS

Chargers roll to end Bills' hopes of postseason berth

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers finally are playing well.

The way Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos are playing, though, it could be too late.

Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Antonio Gates, and the Chargers kept their slim playoff hopes alive while beating Buffalo 37-10 Sunday to eliminate the Bills from postseason contention.

The Chargers (6-7) have won two straight following their six-game losing streak. Minutes after the Chargers game ended, Denver beat Chicago in overtime to improve to 8-5 atop the AFC West with three games to go. Also ahead of the Chargers are the Oakland Raiders (7-6), who lost at Green Bay.

"Until they say we're done, there's always a chance," said safety Eric Weddle, who converted a first down on a fake punt and had an interception, both of which led to touchdowns. "Even if we were done, we'd be playing our hearts out."

Chargers coach Norv Turner hadn't heard the Denver score until it was brought up in the postgame news conference.

"I'm glad you told me that because I didn't hear the results yet and I won't bother watching it now that you gave me the rundown," Turner said. "We have to take care of ourselves. We know all the math, but there's nothing we can do about that. It's get ready to play a game."

The Chargers host Baltimore (10-3) next Sunday night.

Buffalo (5-8) lost its sixth straight game and was eliminated from playoff contention for the 12th straight year.

The Bills, like the Chargers, started the season 4-1. They were 5-2 after a 23-0 victory against Washington on Oct. 30 and haven't won since.

"I think the last few weeks we made some progress. Today obviously we took a step backward," Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "We didn't do anything well."

In this matchup of desperate teams, the Chargers took control early and never let up.

Rivers was 24 of 33 for 240 yards. Ryan Mathews gained 114 yards on 20 carries, the first time he's had three straight 100-yard games.

The Bills made it a game when Rivers fumbled while going back to pass early in the third quarter. The ball rolled into the end zone and Bryan Scott shoved aside the QB to recover for a touchdown that pulled the Bills to 16-10.

"Fortunately, it didn't cost us today," said Rivers, who's had some costly turnovers this season. "It was good to win again."

Just like that, though, San Diego regained the momentum with the fake punt on the next drive. With the Chargers in punt formation at their 32, Weddle, the up-back, took the snap and ran 10 yards for a first down.

Vincent Jackson had consecutive catches of 16, 17 and 13 yards. Rivers scrambled for 9 yards and an apparent TD, but it came back on a holding call against right tackle Jeromey Clary. Three plays later, Gates broke free in the end zone for a 2-yard scoring catch.

"Momentum is big in the NFL," Weddle said. "Once we got the momentum back, we figured it was over there. Once we converted the fake punt and then scored, it was a two-score game."

Said Buffalo coach Chan Gailey: "We had a very small window to make that a game and we didn't stop that drive when they faked the punt," Gailey said. "We didn't stop that drive and we couldn't get anything going offensively consistently."

On Buffalo's next play from scrimmage, Steve Gregory intercepted Fitzpatrick and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown and a 30-10 lead.

"We felt like we came out in the second half with some confidence and it was all gone after that pick-6."

Rivers also threw a 26-yard scoring pass to Patrick Crayton.

Fitzpatrick was 13 of 34 for 176 and two interceptions.

The Chargers scored on their first three drives. Rivers was 6 for 6 for 63 yards on the opening possession, including a 9-yard TD pass to Gates.

Weddle intercepted Fitzpatrick when the ball bounced off the back of linebacker Na'il Diggs and returned it 26 yards to the San Diego 45, Rivers completed two more passes for 20 yards and Mike Tolbert finished the drive with a 1-yard run. The PAT was blocked and San Diego lead 13-0.

Mathews' 37-yard run up the middle on the next drive set up Nick Novak's 47-yard field goal for a 16-0 lead that held up at halftime.

The Bills had an impressive drive to open the second half, including Steve Johnson's 53-yard catch-and-run, to reach the Chargers 9. But two incompletions by Fitzpatrick and a sack by Antwan Barnes forced the Bills to settle for Dave Rayner's 37-yard field goal.

Game notes


Gates became the 27th player in NFL history with 75 touchdown catches. He's within five catches of overtaking Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner, the team's receivers coach, for all-time receptions (586). ... Rivers' lost fumble was his fifth, giving him an NFL-high 22 turnovers. ... Fitzpatrick set a career high with 3,013 yards passing, making him the second Bills QB with consecutive 3,000-yard seasons (Jim Kelly 1988-89, 1991-95).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
BUF
SD
1st Downs1723
Passing 1st downs
1015
Rushing 1st downs
57
1st downs from Penalties
21
3rd down efficiency
4-118-14
4th down efficiency
0-21-1
Total Plays5867
Total Yards281366
Yards per play4.85.5
Total Drives1010
Passing185216
Comp - Att
15-3724-33
Yards per pass
5.06.5
Interceptions thrown
30
Sacks - Yards Lost
1-102-24
Rushing96150
Rushing Attempts
2032
Yards per rush
4.84.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-23-3
Penalties1-55-50
Turnovers31
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
30
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11
Possession24:2735:33

Passing Leaders

BUFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Fitzpat...13/341765.2021-10
Thigpen2/3196.3010-0
SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rivers24/332407.3302-24

Rushing Leaders

BUFCARYDSAVGTDLG
Spiller12463.8016
Fitzpat...5265.2018
SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Mathews201145.7037
Tolbert6213.5113

Receiving Leaders

BUFRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Johnson411629.005310
Hagan22814.00174
SDRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Gates7689.72179
Jackson55511.00179

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERBUFSD
sdTD07:52Antonio Gates 9 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERBUFSD
sdTD14:16Mike Tolbert 1 Yd Run (Pat Blocked) 013
sdFG06:41Nick Novak 47 Yd 016
THIRD QUARTERBUFSD
bufFG11:43Dave Rayner 37 Yd 316
bufTD10:11Bryan Scott Recovered Fumble In End Zone (Dave Rayner Kick) 1016
sdTD04:11Antonio Gates 2 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick) 1023
sdTD04:02Steve Gregory 26 Yd Interception Return (Nick Novak Kick) 1030
FOURTH QUARTERBUFSD
sdTD09:01Patrick Crayton 26 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick) 1037

Research Notes

NEXT LEVEL: Philip Rivers completed 77.3 percent of his passes and threw all three of his touchdown on throws traveling 10 yards or fewer in Sunday's game against the Bills. Entering Sunday, had only completed 68.1 percent of such passes with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions (tied with Matthew Stafford for the most in the league).

ESPN Stats & Information