SAN DIEGO — With every yard and touchdown, Melvin Gordon is quickly making up for lost time.
That’s a good thing for the San Diego Chargers, who themselves learned how to finish a game with a big lead.b
Gordon, a second-year pro, had his first 100-yard game and scored once, and Philip Rivers matched his career-high with four touchdown passes as the Chargers beat the mistake-prone Jacksonville Jaguars 38-14 Sunday.
Gordon scored on a 3-yard run on the game’s opening drive, his first TD at Qualcomm Stadium. Gordon went in standing up, and then right guard D.J. Fluker lifted him off the ground in celebration. He finished with 102 yards on 24 carries.
“It feels good,” Gordon said. “I don’t get overly excited about anything. It’s early. I’m just hungry, man. But I am happy now. I definitely wanted it, so it’s even better you get the 100-yard game with a win.”
Gordon failed to score a TD during his miserable rookie season, when he had a fumbling problem, got benched twice and then missed the final two games with an injured left knee.
He scored his first two NFL touchdowns in the loss at Kansas City.
“I’m just comfortable,” he said. “When you’re comfortable, you have confidence. In this league it’s all about confidence.”
Said right tackle Joe Barksdale: “I’m happy for him, especially after last season.”
What could be the Chargers’ final home opener in San Diego drew only 52,165 fans at 72,000-seat Qualcomm Stadium.
Here are some things we learned in the Chargers’ win against Jacksonville:
Rivers preached the need to finish after the Chargers (1-1) blew a 21-point third-quarter lead and fell 33-27 in overtime at Kansas City in the season opener.
He threw TD passes of 6 and 45 yards to Travis Benjamin, 44 yards to Tyrell Williams and 2 yards to Antonio Gates.
The Chargers led 21-0 at halftime, and Rivers hopes they learned how to put teams away.
“It was huge. I’m glad it happened again right away,” Rivers said. “It was good for us mentally to get that put to bed that in the sense, ‘When we’re up 21, guys, we’re going to win,’ instead of that, ‘Oh, we’re hanging on.’ “
A SAN DIEGO INSTITUTION: Rivers and Gates show no signs of slowing down. They have hooked up on 78 touchdown passes, the most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem. Gates has caught 80 TD passes since Rivers became the starter in 2006, but two were thrown by LaDainian Tomlinson on halfback option plays. Gates needs six more scoring catches to match Tony Gonzalez’s all-time mark of 111 for a tight end.
The Jaguars were coming off a four-point loss to Green Bay and now are 0-2 for the fourth time in five seasons.
Up next is a home game against Baltimore.
“It’s pretty embarrassing but we’re 0-2,” Marcedes Lewis said. “We get an opportunity to find out what kind of team we are and we’re looking to go about it. The guys have a good mindset of who we are. This isn’t a team we believe we are. This isn’t the team we expect to be. … We’re not ready to pack it in and accept another 3-13 year.”
Jaguars LT Kelvin Beachum was hospitalized overnight as a precaution after suffering a concussion late in the third quarter. The stadium was hushed as he was placed on a back board and lifted onto a cart and driven off the field. He is scheduled to return to Jacksonville Monday.
The Chargers will know more Monday about the injury to Danny Woodhead’s right knee. He was hurt after making a catch late in the first quarter. The Chargers have already lost one major playmaker for the season when Keenan Allen went out of the opener with a knee injury.
ANTHEM: Barksdale said he’ll continue to raise his right fist during the national anthem, which he and Chris Hairston did Sunday.
“It’s just a solidarity thing,” Barksdale said. “Chris has two kids, I have a daughter on the way. You never want to bury your kids. We still stand for the national anthem, we’re happy to be in the country. At the same time, things need to change.”
There was also a malfunction with a giant American flag as it was being unfurled on the field by Marines and U.S. Navy sailors. The flag appeared to have a big twist in the middle and couldn’t be fully opened.