Chargers-Redskins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 30, 2013
Philip Rivers' revival has him again performing like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Robert Griffin III doesn't look to be anywhere close to approaching that lofty level. Rivers and the San Diego Chargers emerge from a bye in search of their first three-game winning streak in almost two years Sunday when they visit Griffin and the struggling Washington Redskins. The Chargers (4-3) have missed the playoffs the last three seasons, and Rivers shouldered much of the blame in the last two, throwing 35 interceptions and posting a pair of passer ratings under 90 after three straight years over 100. Rivers is back among the elite in 2013, leading the NFL with a 73.9 completion percentage while ranking second with a 111.1 rating. He's also tossed 15 TDs to just five picks, three of which came in a 27-17 loss at Oakland in Week 5. He hasn't thrown an interception since while leading San Diego to back-to-back wins. Rivers has connected on 44 of 59 passes for 522 yards with two scores, putting the Chargers on the brink of their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 5-18, 2011. Rivers also is a big reason the offense ranks fourth in the league with 402.9 yards per game. "He's been tremendous," general manager Tom Telesco told the team's official website. "I always said when your quarterback is the hardest-working player on your team, everything else falls into place. He's certainly one of those. He's a leader for us. His passion for football is off the charts. "I can't ask for anything more than what he's done. Players follow him. He's our guy and it's fun having him as our quarterback." The Redskins (2-5) aren't having nearly as much fun lately being led by Griffin, who has completed 59.0 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 79.2 rating. He struggled again in last week's 45-21 loss at Denver, converting half of his 30 passes for a season-low 132 yards with one TD and two picks. His longest completion went for just 17 yards as he continues to have trouble building on last season's success with deep passes. Last year, Griffin went 15 for 39 with seven touchdowns, one pick and a 115.1 rating on passes that traveled at least 21 yards through the air. He hasn't come close to being that effective in 2013, going 5 for 24 on such throws with two scores and three INTs for a 43.1 rating. "Robert was new to the league," wide receiver Santana Moss said, "and lot of things that he did wowed people because they didn't know what the (heck) was going on. They didn't know if he was going to tuck it, if he was going to run it, they didn't know. Defenses would sit back and say, 'Hey, we got to find a way to prevent him from doing that.' "When he's on doing that, then everything's wide open because you don't know what to stop. But when he's not, then we have to be a little more creative and say 'Hey, let's find a way to beat them without running Robert and doing the things that we did last year.'" The Redskins may need to find some different solutions against the Chargers, who haven't allowed a touchdown in 11 consecutive quarters. The defense also has held opponents to an average of 309.5 yards in the past four games after giving up 470.7 per game over the first three. "It's a matter of how quickly you can clean up your mistakes and not make the same mistakes," first-year coach Mike McCoy said. "That is a sign of a good football team and that is what we are doing right now." The Redskins haven't done much of that, totaling 15 turnovers after committing five last week. They're also still trying to find a reliable secondary receiver opposite Pierre Garcon, who hasn't reached the end zone for three straight games. "I think we do have a second guy. Who that guy is right now, I'm not sure," coach Mike Shanahan said. "We've got to have a guy step up. We've got guys with the ability to be No. 2, but you want to take control." Rookie Jordan Reed may be the likeliest option after catching 17 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown over the last two games. Washington is expected to welcome Brandon Meriweather back after he was suspended for one game for multiple helmet-first hits on defenseless receivers. The controversial safety made himself the center of attention again this week by claiming he'll need a new approach. "I guess I've just got to take people's knees out," he said. San Diego has won three straight versus Washington since a loss in the nation's capital on Dec. 6, 1998.
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