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Late fumbles push Chargers coach Mike McCoy onto hot seat

SAN DIEGO -- The improbable happened again to the San Diego Chargers.

Up 13 points with just under five minutes left Sunday, the Chargers had two fumbles and managed to squander another late lead with a 35-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Chargers are now 3-12 in games decided by eight points or fewer dating to last season. San Diego has lost 16 of its last 21 games. With the team falling to 1-3 on the season, coach Mike McCoy is squarely on the hot seat.

Quarterback Drew Brees surprisingly struggled in his first game in San Diego since moving on from the Chargers after the 2005 season. He finished 23-of-36 for 206 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he was solid when it mattered most.

With the Chargers up 34-21 with under seven minutes left, running back Melvin Gordon fumbled for the first time this season. Saints defensive end Darryl Tapp recovered at San Diego's 13-yard line. Four plays later, Brees hit Mike Thomas on a back-shoulder fade route for a touchdown, cutting San Diego's lead to 34-28 with 4:50 left.

On the ensuing possession, receiver Travis Benjamin lost the ball after making a short catch over the middle of the field on San Diego's first play from scrimmage. Saints linebacker Nate Stupar recovered. Seven plays later, fullback John Kuhn plunged into the end zone from a yard out, giving the Saints a 35-34 lead with 1:57 left.

The Chargers got the ball on their own 25-yard line but went backward 13 yards. On fourth down, Rivers threw his first interception of the year to cornerback B.W. Webb, effectively ending the game. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is now 0-3 against Brees.

It doesn't get any easier for McCoy.

The Chargers are 0-9 in the AFC West since defeating the Oakland Raiders two years ago at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego gets an opportunity to redeem itself on the road against the Raiders in Oakland next week.

The matchup against the Raiders is part of a tough four-game stretch, with three of San Diego's next four games on the road. That includes two in 17 days against the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.