The San Diego Chargers have had a difficult year in terms of unbelievable, last-minute losses that have left fans shaking their heads and not knowing what to think. With six losses on their record, the margin for error following the bye week will be very slim.
Already, the talk has shifted to the topics of conversation of the offseason. Free agency. The NFL draft. The possible move to Los Angeles. These are topics for another day, particularly since there are still six games to play this season.
But before we look toward the rest of the schedule, we’re going to look back at the games that have already been played. For most Chargers fans, that won’t bring a smile, especially when you think about where the Chargers could be if they just managed to pull one or two of these games out.
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Today, I’m going to take a look back at each of the team’s six losses so far this season, and rank them in order of how crippling they were to the team and its goals for the year.
Whether it be poor clock management, a turnover at the worst possible time or a botched field goal, the Chargers have lost in almost every conceivable way this season. Here’s a look back.
Oct 30, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers tackle Joe Barksdale (72) pass blocks on Denver Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) as quarterback Philip Rivers (17) scrambles away in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 27-19. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Believe it or not, this 8-point loss was the largest margin of defeat the Chargers have suffered this season. Having already beaten the Broncos just 17 days earlier, the Chargers had a tall task in front of them, going into the Mile High City against a revenge-minded Broncos squad.
Philip Rivers had three passes intercepted in this game, one of which was returned 49 yards for a touchdown by Bradley Roby.
But the Chargers hung tough and kept it close most of the day. Though the defense forced three turnovers, it also allowed four passes of over 30 yards to the Broncos.
In the end, the Chargers just didn’t have enough to pull out the win, but this may be the only game so far this season in which San Diego was outplayed.
Nov 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass as he is pressured by San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (99) during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. Miami won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers’ most recent loss was not without disappointment. The Chargers had every opportunity to win this game and knock off one of the AFC’s hottest teams, but late turnovers prevented that from happening.
Melvin Gordon was held to just 70 yards on the ground, but Rivers found success through the air, throwing for 326 yards and three touchdowns. That was, until the fourth quarter hit.
Rarely will you see Rivers make as many mistakes as he did in this game against the Dolphins, especially on consecutive possessions. And fans can blame it on him not having enough weapons at his disposal or wide receivers not fighting to make plays and prevent interceptions, but the bottom line is that Rivers threw some terrible passes in the late stages of this game.
He looked like a player who knew he didn’t have the help he needed to beat a solid Dolphins squad, and he just tried to do too much. He’s one of the game’s great competitors, but the final quarter of this game wasn’t his finest 15 minutes.
October 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers punter Drew Kaser (8) misses the snap on a field goal attempt in front of kicker Josh Lambo (2) during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
It’s always tough to lose to a divisional opponent, but it’s even worse when it comes due to a mistake in the final moments of the game.
The Oakland Raiders have been one of the league’s most improved teams this season and as of this writing, they’ve only lost two games. But they caught a break when they faced the Chargers back in Week 5 in Oakland.
In a high-scoring contest, the Chargers went punch for punch with the Raiders on the road. Toward the end of the game, they set up for a field goal that would tie things up and send the game into an extra session. But kicker Josh Lambo never got a chance to put his foot on the ball. Instead, punter Drwe Kaser mishandled the snap and the Bolts never got the kick off. Now granted, a made field goal would have only tied the score and anything could still have happened in overtime, but the fact that the Chargers didn’t even attempt the tying field goal was a tough one to take.
Sep 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts receiver T.J. Hilton (13) makes the game winning touchdown catch against the San Diego Chargers. the Colts won, 26-22 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sport
The Chargers fell behind 10-0 against the Colts, but fought back to tie the game at 13 apiece by halftime. With just over one minute to play in the game, the Chargers held a 22-19 lead and were looking to put the final stamp on a victory by coming up with a defensive stand.
Only that didn’t happen.
Andrew Luck found T.Y. Hilton streaking across the middle of the field and he put a perfect pass on him. Hilton caught the ball and shook free of defensive back Jason Verrett before racing for a 63-yard touchdown. The fans in Indianapolis were raucous, but those at home in San Diego were in shock.
The Chargers got one more chance to try to win it with a final drive of their own, but a fumble by rookie tight end Hunter Henry sealed their fate.
Oct 2, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin (12) fumbles the football as New Orleans Saints defensive back Sterling Moore (24) defends during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
It’s still hard to believe that the Chargers lost this game.
With just over five minutes to play in the game, San Diego held a 34-21 lead. They had played former Chargers quarterback Drew Brees pretty well for the most part and just needed to grind out the clock. Then Gordon coughed the ball up deep in his own territory.
Brees and the Saints capitalized, hitting rookie Michael Thomas on a five-yard touchdown pass to bring the Saints to within six points. The Chargers got the ball back and on first down, Rivers hit Travis Benjamin to get the drive started with a five-yard gain, only to see him stripped of the ball. The Saints recovered at the San Diego 31-yard line.
Brees marched his team down the field again and fullback John Kuhn punched in a 1-yard touchdown to put the Saints on top. Before the fans in San Diego even knew what hit them, the 13-point lead was gone.
The Chargers got one more chance to go down the field and get into field goal range, but Rivers was intercepted. The Chargers, who hadn’t turned the ball over all day, turned it over three times in the final five minutes before watching the Saints take a knee and leave with a shocking victory.
Sep 11, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is pressured by Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Dontari Poe (92) and defensive lineman Chris Jones (95) at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The 2016 season got off to a horrendous start for the Chargers, but that’s only because of the way this game turned out. The game itself got off to a great start.
The Chargers went into Arrowhead Stadium in the season opener and took it to the Chiefs. The Chargers jumped out to a 21-3 lead at the half. But it quickly went downhill.
The Chiefs came roaring back in the second half and forced the game into overtime after tying it up at 27. Kansas City won the coin toss and got the ball first. San Diego would never see it again.
The Chiefs went 70 yards down the field, finishing with a 2-yard run by quarterback Alex Smith to put the Chargers away. It was a terrible loss for the Chargers in a game they were dominating.
In addition to losing the game, San Diego also lost wide receiver Keenan Allen for the season with a torn ACL. Not only has it been a season of devastating losses, but a season of devastating injuries as well.
One has to wonder if the Chargers ever recovered from this game.