CARSON — Even after relocation and a coaching change, this still remains true: The Chargers will only go as far as Philip Rivers takes them.
On Sunday, that reality did not look reassuring. In their second game at StubHub Center, the Chargers fell to Kansas City, 24-10 — dropping them to 0-3 for the first time since 2003. And Rivers, making his 188th consecutive start, deserved his share of blame.
Rivers dug the Chargers into an early hole, throwing three interceptions in the first 20 minutes of the game. The first two picks set up short fields for Kansas City, which took advantage by scoring two touchdowns on their first eight plays. The third led to a 31-yard field goal.
Rivers escaped a close call early in the fourth quarter, when a deep pass bounced off receiver Tyrell Williams and into the arms of safety Daniel Sorensen. After a review, officials ruled the pass incomplete.
If not for the Chargers’ stingy defense — which held Kansas City to 3.4 yards per game through the second and third quarters — the outcome could have been even more lopsided.
This is not to suggest that Rivers, who turns 36 years old in December, is washed up. For years, the 6-foot-5 quarterback has been the engine of the Chargers’ offense, making six Pro Bowls while making 188 consecutive starts. At his best, he is still a thrilling conductor, one capable of dropping dimes and commanding late-game comebacks.
But there is a pattern. Sunday marked the ninth time in his career that Rivers threw at least three interceptions in a single game. Even more concerning: Nearly one-eighth of his career interceptions (21 of 160) have come in the last 11 months.
His teammates picked up some of the slack. Running back Melvin Gordon, who sat out most of the second half with a knee injury, turned his first nine carries into 55 yards and a touchdown. He eventually finished with 79 yards on the ground, more than he totaled in the last two weeks.
Defensive end Melvin Ingram, arguably the team’s most valuable player so far this season, recorded three sacks, a new single-game career high. The first came midway through the second quarter, and was followed by a shared sack between Joey Bosa and Corey Liuget.
Had rookie safety Rayshawn Jenkins not been flagged for roughing the kicker, the Chargers would have forced a missed field goal attempt from 51 yards. Kansas City eventually settled for Cairo Santos’ 31-yarder.
The visitors didn’t score again until the final two minutes, when…