The Tennessee Titans’ misery in San Diego added another chapter Sunday with a 43-35 loss to the Chargers, in yet another game where the Titans had an opportunity to win, only to have it come apart with turnovers.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had moments of brilliance with three touchdown passes, also had three critical turnovers that the Chargers turned into 17 points, including losing a fumble for a touchdown and having an interception for a score.
The Titans put up a strong fight to rally from an early 16-point deficit, when it looked like Philip Rivers and the Chargers were going to blow them out.
Tennessee even took a 21-19 lead briefly in the third quarter on Mariota’s 14-yard scramble. But the lead would be short-lived, as the Chargers came right back and scored on Melvin Gordon’s 1-yard run. That proved to be just one highlight in a banner day for Gordon, who had 196 yards rushing on 32 carries Sunday. On that drive, the Titans secondary had three critical penalties, including a third-and-goal holding penalty on Da’Norris Searcy that nullified a sack by Jurrell Casey.
The Titans still had a chance, but Mariota, running an option play, lost a fumble that safety Dwight Lowery returned for a touchdown to make the score 33-21.
Again, the Titans crawled back into the game, as Mariota directed a TD drive, finishing it with a touchdown throw to Delanie Walker with 9:51 to go that trimmed the lead to 33-28.
The Titans got the football back after the Chargers added a field goal from Josh Lambo, but Mariota’s pass on an out route for Kendall Wright was intercepted by Brandon Flowers and returned 33 yards for a score.
Mariota finished 27 of 43 for 313 yards with three touchdowns, but also had two picks (one for a score) and lost a fumble for a touchdown. The Titans have now had seven returns (five on defense, two on special teams) for touchdowns by opponents this year.
The Titans last won in San Diego in 1990.
The Titans played without rookie running back Derrick Henry, as the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner suffered a calf injury in pre-game warm-ups, apparently after inactives were submitted 90 minutes before kickoff.
Without Henry available, Antonio Andrews got his first two carries of the season backing up DeMarco Murray and had 14 yards.