SAN DIEGO (AP) — Philip Rivers threw four touchdown passes, including one 15 seconds into the game, and the San Diego Chargers went ahead 28-14 after three quarters over the Houston Texans in Mike McCoy’s head coaching debut on Monday night.
Rivers threw four touchdowns passes for the first time since the 2011 season as San Diego got off to a fast start in the NFL debut of McCoy, Denver’s former offensive coordinator.
Rivers threw three TD passes in the first half as the Chargers took a 21-7 halftime lead. He added a 1-yard scoring toss to Eddie Royal, his second, on San Diego’s first drive of the second half to go up 28-7.
The key play on the drive was the first one from the Chargers 20-yard line when Rivers hit Malcolm Floyd for a 47-yard gain to the Houston 33.
The Texans countered with an 11-play, 70-yard drive, highlighted by Matt Schaub’s passes of 20 and 13 yards to Andre Johnson for third down conversions. Schaub threw his second TD on a 7-yard pass to tight end Garrett Graham.
Rivers completed 13 of 22 passes for 187 yards through three quarters. Schaub was 23 of 30 for 276 yards. Johnson caught seven passes for 114 yards.
The last time Rivers threw four touchdown passes was on Nov. 6, 2011, against Green Bay.
There were two notable absences from the starting lineups.
Chargers rookie inside linebacker Manti Te’o, the club’s second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, was inactive for the game. Te’o suffered a sprained right foot after playing only nine snaps in San Diego’s first preseason game on Aug. 8 and has not practiced since.
Houston free safety Ed Reed, signed as a free agent from the champion Baltimore Ravens, has not yet recovered from offseason hip surgery and was replaced by Shiloh Keo.
San Diego defensive tackle Cam Thomas intercepted Schaub’s pass on the first play from scrimmage. Rivers then hit running back Ryan Mathews with a 14-yard touchdown pass on the next play to give the Chargers a 7-0 lead.
Rivers also connected with Royal on a 6-yard TD pass early in the second quarter and had a 10-yard scoring pass to Vincent Brown with 18 seconds to go before halftime.
Brown was originally ruled out just short of the goal line, but the play was overturned on replay by referee Scott Green, who ruled Brown hit the pylon with the ball before he went out of bounds.
Houston’s first score came on Schaub’s 1-yard TD pass to tight end Owen Daniels in the first quarter that capped a 10-play, 71-yard drive to tie the score with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
But the Texans had other scoring chances.
On fourth-and-inches from the Chargers 27 in the second quarter, running back Arian Foster was stuffed at the line for no gain.
Schaub connected on a long pass to Johnson, who jumped over cornerback Richard Marshall at the Chargers 45-yard line with 4:53 left in the half. Johnson hit the ground and when safety Marcus Gilchrist went flying over Johnson, the Texans wideout got up and ran into the end zone.
The play was reviewed and Green ruled that Johnson was touched by Gilchrist for a 27-yard gain to the San Diego 40.
San Diego took the lead in the second quarter when it used a long drive behind the running of Mathews, who gained 30 yards on six carries and Rivers’ passing. Rivers twice completed passes on third down to keep the drive alive, including a 15-yard pass to tight end Antonio Gates to the Texans 47.
The Chargers got a break when Houston cornerback Brice McCain was called for a 21-yard pass interference penalty down to the Texans 6. Rivers then connected with Royal in the corner of the end zone.
Houston started the game at its 14-yard line and on its first play, Schaub’s short pass was tipped by linebacker Jarret Johnson and picked off by Thomas for no gain.
On the next play, Mathews beat linebacker Brooks Reed on a swing route out of the backfield, caught the ball at the 3-yard line and fell into the end zone for the touchdown.
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