Chargers say late-game loss not a reminder of 2016: 'We were terrible'

DENVER -- It's easy to say the Los Angeles Chargers experienced Groundhog Day all over again this season, after losing six games in the fourth quarter last season during a dismal, 5-11 campaign.

But Philip Rivers would beg to differ.

"Some of the close losses last year, we were terrible," Rivers said. "It was just kind of bad football, some of those close losses."

The Chargers are certainly disappointed in the result on Monday night, a 24-21 setback in the season opener against the AFC West rival Denver Broncos.

However, players took solace in the fact that their team battled back from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter in a tough environment, and had a chance in the end to send the game into overtime.

"We've got to finish," cornerback Jason Verrett said. "In these types of situations, you’ve got to be able to close it out on the road. At the end of the day on the road in a hostile environment things might not go your way, but we found a way to fight back."

Rivers said the fact the Chargers didn't fold up and let the Broncos roll over them is a testament to their new head coach Anthony Lynn.

"I thought you saw how nobody panicked, and that usually filters down from the head coach," Rivers said. "It was 24-7 and nobody panicked. And then you look up and it's 24-21 and we're getting ready to kick a 44-yard field goal to tie it up.

"I think probably including all of you and the rest of the building was surprised, but that sideline wasn't. And that starts with Coach Lynn."

Still, the Chargers have to figure out a way to get into a better rhythm on offense. Rivers had just 60 passing yards after three quarters and the Chargers were 3-of-8 on third down, running 32 plays compared to 55 plays for the Broncos.

The Chargers' talented tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry were targeted a grand total of three times. Gates finished with two catches for 17 yards and Henry was not targeted at all.

Denver did a nice job of playing keep away from the Chargers' explosive offense. Rivers said the Chargers have to find a way to get into a rhythm sooner on offense.

"We came up short and that stung a little bit," Lynn said. "Every man in that locker room is hurting. They never stopped fighting and I am proud of those guys. They played all the way to the end."