Norv Turner was in a generous mood, awarding game balls to each one of his San Diego Chargers who sacked Greg McElroy. Hope he stocked up on footballs.
Led by Kendall Reyes’ 3 1/2sacks, the San Diego Chargers made things downright miserable for McElroy, taking him down 11 times and tying the team record while ruining the New York Jets quarterback’s 1st NFL start in the place of the benched Mark Sanchez in a 27-17 victory.
”A lot of those sacks weren’t where they beat a man fast and went,” Turner said. ”It was guys staying relentless and staying after the quarterback. You’re playing a young quarterback. You’d like to be in a position to pressure him and disrupt it.”
That is precisely what San Diego did. Shaun Phillips had 2 1/2 sacks, Corey Liuget added 2 more, and 4 other players helped the San Diego Chargers (6-9) finish one short of the NFL record set by a handful of teams, last by the Giants in 2007.
With Turner and GM A.J. Smith facing uncertain futures – and lots of speculation that they will be out after the season – it’s a dominant effort by the defense with one game left. San Diego also had 11 sacks against Dallas in 1986.
”The game plan was definitely was to get pressure on him, sack him and make him nervous,” Liuget claimed, ”and make them want to run the ball.”
McElroy, the 3rd-stringer, moved the offense for the Jets (6-9) early but faced pressure all game. With a chance to get New York back into it with less than 5 minutes remaining, McElroy was taken down by Phillips – the Chargers’ 8th sack of the game – and lost the ball. Phillips recovered and San Diego sealed the win, but not before sacking McElroy 3 more times.
”I’m disappointed,” McElroy recounted. ”This team’s goal was to finish 8-8 and win the last 2 games and we’re disappointed we’re going to finish short of that goal.”
McElroy, the team’s 7th-round pick out of Alabama last year, became the 1st Jets quarterback to be sacked 11 times since David Norrie by Dallas in 1987, a game played by replacements.
”It was great on their part,” expounded Rex Ryan, guaranteed his 1st losing season as N.Y Jets coach, ”but ridiculous on our part.”
With many of the pregame drama centered around whether Sanchez or Tim Tebow would back up McElroy – turned out, it was both – Philip Rivers threw touchdown tosses of 37 yards to Danario Alexander and 34 yards to Antonio Gates to lead the San Diego Chargers .
It was the 82nd touchdown catch of Gates’ career, snapping a tie with Lance Alworth for the franchise lead.
”The Chargers had unbelievable production in the passing game with really good players in the passing game,” Turner said. ”He’s a very special person and a very special player. I have been lucky to be around Hall-Of-Fame guys who’ve done some incredible things. He’s right up there with them.” Football lines
After Gates caught his milestone touchdown, the entire offense celebrated with him in the end zone.