By Mark Lamport-Stokes
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers heaved a collective sigh of relief after coming from behind to beat the Tennessee Titans 33-25 on Sunday.
Rivers threw two touchdowns and one interception to guide the AFC West champions to their third win in eight games while the AFC South-leading Titans slipped to 5-3.
San Diego, hampered much of the season by injuries, special teams mistakes and a rash of turnovers, snapped a three-game skid after outrushing their opponents by 156 yards to 65.
After trailing by 12 points in the second quarter, Chargers tight end Antonio Gates scored a 48-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that put the home team in front for good.
"This was a hard-fought, emotional win," Rivers told reporters. "It took everything we had against a good team.
The Chargers trailed early on after a punt by Mike Scifres was blocked by Nick Schommer for a safety but they had the better of the first quarter, a one-yard touchdown by fullback Mike Tolbert helping them into a 7-5 lead.
But Tennessee roared back early in the second quarter when quarterback Vince Young connected with tight end Craig Stevens for a one-yard touchdown to cap a rousing 80-yard drive.
Running back Chris Johnson also scored after a 29-yard run to tighten Tennessee's grip before Chargers running back Ryan Mathews powered into the end zone from seven yards to trim the deficit to 19-14 at halftime.
"Our guys just kept playing," San Diego coach Norv Turner said. "When we had a negative play, our guys just responded and came back with a play that gave us a chance to win. That's what you have to do to win in this league."
San Diego stretched their lead when Brown kicked another field goal early in the fourth quarter but the Titans again countered when a deep pass by Young up the middle found wide receiver Nate Washington for a 71-yard touchdown.
With the home crowd thundering its support, the Chargers duly responded when a short pass from Rivers set up running back Darren Sproles for a 13-yard touchdown and a much-needed 33-25 cushion with 6:59 left to play.
Tennessee quarterback Vince Young, who missed last week's game because of a sprained left ankle, threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns before being helped off the field during the fourth quarter after re-injuring his ankle.
"For a number of weeks our success has largely been tied to our ability to take the football away and we didn't get that done today," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
"They did a real nice job of protecting the football and keeping it away from us on third-downs. Nevertheless we bounced back and gave ourselves a chance but didn't get it done."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)