Pryor, Raiders preparing for Chargers' red-hot pass rush

Pryor, Raiders preparing for Chargers' red-hot pass rush
December 29, 2012, 7:15 pm
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Kendall Reyes led the Chargers' 11-sack assault on the Jets with 3 1/2 QB takedowns. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One after another, the San Diego Chargers barreled into Greg McElroy and slammed him to the turf.

A whopping 11 times.

That's a lot of bruises for the New York Jets' new - and sore - starting quarterback.

Led by Kendall Reyes' 3 1/2 sacks, the Chargers made things downright miserable for McElroy, tying the team record for sacks in a 27-17 victory Sunday.

Defensive coordinator John Pagano will let loose the dogs on second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor when the Chargers host the Raiders in the season finale this weekend. Pryor, preparing for the first NFL start of his life, is taking notice and the Raiders hope to protect their 23-year-old investment.

"You don't do anything different, but you know it is going to be tougher for him because of his lack of experience," Reyes said of McElroy, though the same words apply for Pryor. "You just want to get in his face."

That's exactly what San Diego did as Norv Turner awarded game balls to each one of his players that took McElroy down - and he sure needed a bunch of them. Shaun Phillips had 2 1/2 sacks, Corey Liuget added two more, and four other players helped the Chargers (6-9) finish one short of the NFL record set by a handful of teams, last by the Giants in 2007.

"A lot of those sacks weren't where they beat a guy quick and went," Turner said. "It was guys staying relentless and staying after the quarterback. You're playing a young quarterback. You'd like to be able to pressure him and disrupt it."

McElroy, the third-stringer, got the start for the Jets (6-9) in place of the benched Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan announced after the game that McElroy will start in the season finale at Buffalo next Sunday.

He leapfrogged Tim Tebow on the depth chart, and the popular backup never took the field even though all three quarterbacks were active for the first time this season. Tebow also took no snaps in the team's wildcat package in which he is usually featured.

"Well, it's been disappointing," Tebow said of the season. "Obviously, it didn't go as we thought, as I had hoped, but sometimes in life you have that. Sometimes you have setbacks and you just have to look at them as another opportunity for you to step back up and keep working and figure out what to do."

Meanwhile, with Turner and general manager A.J. Smith facing uncertain futures - and lots of speculation that they'll be out after the season - San Diego matched the team sacks mark set against Dallas in 1986.

"The game plan was definitely was to get pressure on him, sack him and make him nervous," Liuget said of McElroy, "and make them want to run the ball."

With a chance to get New York back into it with less than 5 minutes remaining, McElroy was taken down by Phillips - the Chargers' eighth sack of the game - and lost the ball. Phillips recovered and San Diego sealed the win, but not before sacking McElroy three more times.

"I'm disappointed," McElroy said. "This team's goal was to finish 8-8 and win the last two games and we're disappointed we're going to finish short of that goal."

McElroy, the team's seventh-round pick out of Alabama last year, became the first Jets quarterback to be sacked 11 times since David Norrie by Dallas in 1987, a game played by replacements.

"It was great on their part," said Ryan, guaranteed his first losing season as Jets coach, "but ridiculous on our part.

"Offensively, you're not beating anybody when you play like that. It's just hard to put into words. You get sacked 11 times, it's extremely frustrating. I expected a lot better, but that never happened."

The Associated Press contributed to this report