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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs face Chargers defense that has struggled late in games



Bucs fans have seen a lot this season in Tampa Bay's 6-5 start, but fourth-quarter lead changes haven't been a big part of that.

The Bucs have had just two games with a lead change in the fourth quarter -- the Carolina game, where the score was tied the entire quarter until Roberto Aguayo's game-winning field goal as time expired, and the Raiders loss, where the Bucs grabbed the lead with 3:48 to play, only to see Oakland tie it and then win in overtime.

San Diego, on the other hand, is well-accustomed to late-game change, and most of the time, it hasn't gone well for them. The Chargers have the NFL's worst second-half defense, giving up 16.2 points on average in the second half of games, including 10.1 points per game in the fourth quarter alone (nearly twice the 5.2 allowed by the Bucs).

They have led in all six of their losses, and they've led in the second half of five of those six losses. Here's how it breaks down:

-- Week 1, at Chiefs: San Diego was up 24-3 late in the third quarter, but gave up 17 points in the fourth and lost in overtime.

-- Week 3, at Colts: San Diego was up 22-20 late, but gave up a touchdown with 1:17 to play and lost 26-22.

-- Week 4, vs. Saints: San Diego was up 34-21 in the fourth quarter, only to see the Saints score two touchdowns in the final five minutes and win 35-34.

-- Week 5, at Raider: San Diego was up 17-9 in the third quarter, gave up 18 points in the third and lost 34-31.

-- Week 10, vs. Dolphins: San Diego rallied for the lead on Miami, up 24-21 with four minutes left, but gave up not only a tying field goal, but then saw Philip Rivers get pick-sixed by Kiko Alonso in a 31-24 loss in regulation.

In fairness, San Diego has a late comeback of their own -- they were down 30-20 in the fourth quarter against Atlanta, rallying for 10 points in the final six minutes and winning in overtime, so it's gone both ways.

What this means is that fans shouldn't leave early Sunday or change the channel -- the Chargers have lost five games in which they've scored 22 points or more, most in the NFL, and the high number of turnovers by and against San Diego can lead to major swings, especially late in games.

[Last modified: Thursday, December 1, 2016 10:08am]


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