What was Phillip Rivers thinking on interception to Leonard Johnson?
So, what was Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers thinking when he threw that interception to Leonard Johnson?
Or, maybe here's a better question: Was he thinking.
After today's game, in which Johnson's 83-yard interception-return touchdown loomed large, Rivers tried to make sense of his inexplicable decision to throw the ball seemingly right to Johnson.
"Obviously there is a story to every interception, but the intention was to throw it over his head," Rivers said. "Eddie (Royal) was there and I saw (Johnson) the whole time. (The ball) just kind of stayed in my hand longer than I wanted it to, and took a nose-dive right to him. In hindsight, I wish I would have thrown it over his head, but I probably just shouldn’t have thrown the ball, period. . . Kick a field goal and tie it up. This game is played in quick decisions and I made the wrong one there."
That's a very accountable answer by Rivers, but it didn't take the sting out of the situation. And it didn't make embattled coach Norv Turner feel any better, either.
"It was a throw you can’t make," Turner said. "He obviously should have thrown the ball away, should have thrown it out of bounds. (Then) we are in position to kick a field goal to tie the game."
Johnson's interception gave the Bucs a 31-21 lead and probably put the game out of reach for the Chargers. As an aside, we should credit defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for relentlessly chasing Rivers to the sideline on that play. It was his all-out effort that caused the ill-advised decision to begin with.
As McCoy told me afterward, the effectiveness of a pass rush can't always be measured in sacks. Sometimes pure effort does the trick.