SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Philip Rivers looked at the 21-point deficit on the scoreboard at halftime and even he wondered whether the San Diego Chargers had it in them to come back. The season depended on it, so Rivers took charge.
He prevailed through a balky back and a sore chest to keep San Diego’s slim playoff chances alive, rallying his team to tie it in the final minute and setting up Nick Novak’s 40-yard field goal nearly 5 minutes into overtime in a 38-35 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night.
“Obviously, an unbelievable finish,” coach Mike McCoy said. “We had about as bad a first half as we could possibly play. …You saw a lot of emotion on the sideline throughout that second half – the excitement, the energy, the way we play football.”
Manti Te’o asks questions.
He asks his coaches questions. He asks his teammates questions. Be it an offensive player or defensive player, no matter.
“He’s got questions every day,” defensive coordinator John Pagano said. “He is upstairs all the time. He is in (linebackers coach Joe Barry’s) office constantly. He’s in my office. He’s always asking questions.”
That explains it.
Te’o this year has looked like someone who’s finding the answers. The Chargers inside linebacker will face the Broncos on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, a largely different player from the rookie who did so last year.
His development has been encouraging.
Te’o, a former second-round pick, has proven to be a smart and willing student since his arrival last year. The coaching staff has given him responsibility in kind, assigned to patrol the nickel and dime defense over the past four weeks. The period coincides with his return from a foot fracture that cost him six games.
Last week, Te’o was in the dime defense late in the first half.
Playing in matchup-zone coverage, in the red zone, he followed Rob Gronkowski toward the front-left pylon and broke inside when he saw the Patriots tight end sit his hips. Te’o turned to find a wayward pass that quarterback Tom Brady delivered in the face of pressure.