Work in Sports
The Chargers (3-1) forced three turnovers, recorded six sacks and moved into a first-place tie with idle Seattle in the AFC West. They have forced 12 turnovers in their three victories.
"Our defense is unbelievable," said Chargers backup quarterback Erik Kramer, a former Lion who played for the injured Jim Harbaugh. "They're keeping us in every game and giving us a lot of opportunities."
Ross faced his former team for the first time since he was fired after the 1996 season. Two years earlier, he guided San Diego to its only Super Bowl appearance.
"A couple of guys talked me after the game and wished me well," said Ross, who has downplayed the reunion all week.
The Lions (2-2) totaled only 37 rushing yards and lost their second straight after a 2-0 start. Charlie Batch completed 21-of-38 passes for 230 yards with a touchdown and interception.
San Diego scored the final 17 points, with the last 10 coming off turnovers. Linebacker Tracy Simien set up a 24-yard field goal 10 minutes into the third quarter with an interception and four-yard return to Detroit's 13-yard line.
"Our defense was unbelievable today," Chargers coach Mike Riley said. "It took us a while to warm up, then we controlled the game. One of the big things that made the difference were the six sacks.
"It's a great team defense. It's led by (Junior) Seau and Harrison. They've played great football. Today, we got off to a slow start, but we've been resilient like that."
Harrison later put his helmet on the ball, forcing Schlesinger to fumble. The ball hopped into Lewis' hands behind the line of scrimmage and the first-year Charger sprinted to the end zone with a convoy of blockers.
"It was a tremendous hit by Rodney Harrison," Lewis said. "He hit him hard on the chest. That's a big fullback, and he knocked the ball out. I was just fortunate to be at the right place at the right time to pick up the ball and run it in."
Four plays earlier, San Diego's John Carney missed his first field goal of the season.
San Diego managed 256 yards of total offense behind Kramer, and marched 80 yards to tie it at 10-10 in the final minute of the first half. Tremayne Stephens capped the drive with a three-yard run.
"Erik, for the most part, has led our team from the first day he came here," Chargers first-year coach Mike Riley said. "We've got to get a lot better on offense. We made progress. For us, it's just to keep getting better."
Kramer was successful on two third-down conversions on the drive and finished the game 20-of-34 for 208 yards. Harbaugh did not play due to injuries to his throwing elbow and ribs.
"It wasn't pretty, but there are a lot of teams that would trade places with us," Kramer said. "Hopefully, we can bring our offense to a higher standard.
"It's not over. We still have 12 important games left," Ross said. "But we have to get some people back. Right now, it looks like we might lose some more. It's very doubtful right now about Ellis and Boyd."
Detroit ran out of time on its final possession and had its other six in the second half end on three punts, an interception, fumble and turnover on downs.
"They've got a pretty solid defense," Ross said. "They led the NFL in defense last year. In the first half, we did a pretty good job. But in the second half we struggled. We especially struggled on a couple of 3rd-and-inches. Those are the ones where you'd think you'd win (the line of scrimmage)."
"It wasn't so much what they were doing defensively to stop us," Batch said. "We were stopping ourselves. When you get the opportunity to throw downfield, you have to have the protection."
Rivers rushed for only 30 yards on 13 carries and Batch admitted the lack of running game affected the passing attack.
"There were a lot of completions I never saw because I was flat on my back," he said. "The only way I knew they were complete was because of the noise from the corwd. It all goes back to running the football. If you're not running, the safeties won't bite on anything. They'll just sit deep. It's frustrating, but the most disappointing thing is we had the opportunity to win this game.
"I feel all right now. But I'll feel it in the morning when I come in here and I'm stiff as a board.
Carney cut San Diego's deficit to 7-3 with a 33-yard field goal 98 seconds into the second quarter. Jason Hanson's 23-yarder midway through the period rebuilt Detroit's seven-point lead.