HOUSTON -- Mired in the basement of the AFC West, the Chargers required a performance just shy of perfection to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. For one half, quarterback Philip Rivers produced an effort in line with those needs.
The Chargers (5-6) won on the road for just the second time behind Rivers' precision and a defense that forced four turnovers and surrendered just two red-zone penetrations. Rivers finished 22 of 30 for 242 yards with scoring strikes to wide receivers Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams and tight end Hunter Henry. He eluded pressure adroitly and his 116.3 rating was his fourth time over 100 in 2016.
"That was big, and we talked about it," Rivers said of the Texans being 5-0 at NRG Stadium this season. "I don't like getting caught up in too much bulletin-board stuff, but I liked that, the fact this team was unbeaten at home, so let's go change that.
"It was in my head all week, that we could stop the streak."
Rivers' counterpart, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, wasn't nearly as sharp. Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward picked off Osweiler in the second quarter, leading to Rivers' 21-yard strike to Williams that gave San Diego the lead for good. Osweiler added an errant pass in the fourth that Chargers safety Dwight Lowery corralled to stall any legitimate hopes for a last-gasp rally by the Texans (6-5).
In addition to the three Osweiler interceptions, Texans running back Lamar Miller coughed up a fumble. Houston committed nine penalties in addition to the turnovers, and required a late, fruitless rally offensively to muster 353 total yards.
Jonathan Grimes recovered a Texans' onside kick at the San Diego 41-yard line with 12 seconds left but Osweiler was intercepted by safety Dexter McCoil on the final snap.
"Bottom line, I didn't play very good today," Osweiler said. "I feel like I left a lot out there on the field, that I could have done much better. I could have done a much better job in certain situations.
"I just felt like the rest of the football team today and especially the defense, special teams, the offensive line, I really felt like those guys went out there and truly battled and played great football and, bottom line, I need to play better for us to win."
Before throwing two incomplete passes on a desperate search for points on the final drive of the first half, Rivers was near perfect. His lone incompletion came via a drop by Henry, who attempted to run toward a wide swath of field before securing the catch. Rivers answered a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Osweiler with a six-play, 74-yard drive that culminated in a 52-yard pass to Inman, who broke free behind the secondary thanks to a blown coverage that involved safety Quintin Demps.
"I don't think anything is easy in this league," said Inman, who finished with six receptions for 119 yards, one yard shy of matching his single-game high. "We prepared well. Coach (Mike McCoy) gave us a good game plan, and we executed.
"(Rivers) puts that extra battery in your bag, even if you're feeling down."
After the Texans converted Demps' interception of Rivers into a 19-yard Nick Novak field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter, Rivers engineered a seven-play, 75-yard march completing two passes apiece to Melvin Gordon and Inman before hitting Henry for a 12-yard strike to send the Texans to a second consecutive loss against an AFC West foe. Houston lost to the Oakland Raiders last Monday night.
"It looked like we started out pretty well and then just couldn't do anything consistently on offense," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "Then the defense was out there quite a bit. I thought they played hard. Gave up some plays here and there.
"Just disappointing to lose. It's horrible."
NOTES: With 148 passing yards in the first half, Chargers QB Philip Rivers recorded his 11th consecutive 3,000-yard season. Only four quarterbacks have compiled such streaks as long: Brett Favre (18, 1992-2009), Drew Brees (13, 2004-16), Peyton Manning (13, 1998-2010) and Eli Manning (11, 2005-15). ... With Texans KR/PR Tyler Ervin sidelined by injury (ribs), Houston utilized WR Will Fuller on punt returns and RB Akeem Hunt on kickoffs. ... Chargers LB Denzel Perryman (hamstring) and S Jahleel Addae (collarbone) returned from injury. Perryman missed two games while Addae had been sidelined since Week 2.