JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Jacksonville Jaguars got a big boost from David Garrard's return.
Playing for the first time in nearly a month, Garrard threw two touchdown passes to help the Jaguars beat the San Diego Chargers 24-17 Sunday.
Jacksonville (7-3) scored on its first three possessions, possibly taking advantage of what would have been an 10 a.m. start on the West Coast, and the Chargers (5-5) self-destructed on nearly every drive.
San Diego ended three consecutive fourth-quarter possessions in questionable fashion before making a game of it late. Philip Rivers connected with All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates for a 24-yard touchdown that made it 24-17 with 5:06 to play.
The score followed a 15-yard penalty on rookie safety Reggie Nelson for leading with his helmet. Replays, though, showed Nelson actually tackled Chris Chambers with his right shoulder. Nonetheless, the result was a 35-yard gain that set up Rivers' TD pass.
The Chargers got the ball back with 2:13 remaining. But Rivers' second pass was intercepted by Sammy Knight near midfield.
The Jaguars ran out the clock from there.
San Diego had other chances in the final quarter but came up short following some strange calls.
Fullback Lorenzo Neal got the ball on a third-and-1 play, and he was stopped for no gain. Facing a fourth-and-2 on the following drive, running back LaDainian Tomlinson started right and looked to throw deep to Gates. He ended up losing yards.
Rivers had his first interception on the next possession, overthrowing everyone except Nelson on a third-and-21 play.
Rivers finished 22-of-40 for 309 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Tomlinson, who needed 91 yards rushing to becoming the 22nd player in NFL history with 10,000 yards on the ground, finished with 62 and a touchdown.
The league's reigning MVP also caught five passes for 93 yards.
Chambers caught four passes for 93 yards, and Gates finished with four receptions for 54 yards.
It wasn't enough.
Garrard played one of his best games of the season, showing little rust after missing the last three weeks with a high ankle sprain. He was 15-of-24 for 189 yards.
Garrard directed three scoring drives in the first half, putting the Jaguars up 17-3. Josh Scobee, returning after missing the last eight games, started the scoring with a 48-yard field goal to cap the opening drive.
The Jaguars made it 10-0 after coach Jack Del Rio continued his gambling ways. He went for it twice on fourth down, and Jacksonville converted both times. Maurice Jones-Drew turned the second one into a 1-yard TD run.
Garrard threw a 36-yard strike to Reggie Williams to make it 17-3 late in the second quarter. Garrard was even better in the third, completing four consecutive passes for 85 yards and finishing the long drive with a 1-yard toss to Marcedes Lewis.
The Chargers, meanwhile, continued their inconsistent ways.
Rivers looked great at times, then downright baffling at others.
San Diego scored on five plays to start the second half, making it 17-10 and looking like a lot like last year's explosive offense.
Rivers found Vincent Jackson over the middle for 20 yards, then dropped a swing pass to Tomlinson that gained 34. Tomlinson finished the drive with a 6-yard run.
But they didn't do much the rest of the way.