Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer 382d

Philip Rivers' efficiency is improved, but it's not resulting in enough points

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Philip Rivers can "see red" sometimes during the game, going to that place where he feels the weight of the world on his shoulders and the pressure to make every play for his team to earn a victory.

But during the second quarter of the season, in which the Los Angeles Chargers have won three of their past four games, Rivers for the most part has leaned on his team's defense and played mistake-free football, and the result has been more efficient play.

Rivers has been more willing to take a sack or throw the ball away rather than throwing it up for grabs. Longtime teammate and veteran tight end Antonio Gates has taken notice.

"I know it sounds crazy, but with the way our defense is playing, there's certain things you don't have to risk," Gates said. "The majority of the time you want to end a drive with a kick -- an extra point, a field goal or we can punt. And that's what we're doing. Our defense is that good.

"And I think it makes it easier for you from an offensive standpoint because you know, at the end of the day, your defense is going to make plays and get off the field, and that gives our offense more opportunities to score points."

Over the past four games, Rivers is responsible for just two turnovers, including throwing one up for grabs on the final play of Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots. In those four games, he has completed 78 of 136 passes (57.3 percent) for 921 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Those aren't the eye-popping numbers Rivers is used to, but are good enough to keep the Chargers in games.

"He's getting us in the right plays, completions, passing efficiency and less turnovers -- you can always give yourself a chance to win if you do those things," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.

The one problem, Rivers said, is the offense is not scoring enough points. Traditionally, the Chargers have been an explosive, top-10 offense that dictates the tempo of the game. But through eight games, the Chargers are averaging 18.8 points per contest, No. 22 in the NFL.

"The thing that hurts the most for me is that I keep seeing other teams score into the teens and us not win, and I hate that for our defense. I hate that," Rivers said. "For one, we as an offense are used to scoring a lot of points all the time and we just haven't been able to score as many points.

"We've done a lot of good things, but we haven't been scoring many points and that's the area -- I think the most -- that will reflect on the scoreboard. You have to score more than the other team. We need to get that taken care of in the second half of the season."

The Chargers have come a long way since starting the season 0-4. But if they want to continue to improve during the second half of the season, Rivers understands the offense has to play to its potential.

"I've been on teams and in situations where you just go, 'I don't know how we're going to try to get out of this,'" Rivers said. "When you see this group, you just know we're capable -- if we do or not, I don't know.

"Only 12 teams do it well enough to play into January and only one team ultimately does it well enough, but we are capable, and I think that's why you'll have an exciting, hungry, healthier team come back ready to go to Jacksonville in two weeks."

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