SAN DIEGO (AP) — Melvin Gordon was having the game of his life, running for 111 yards on 23 carries, as the San Diego Chargers were trying to play catch-up against the Denver Broncos.
"Melvin ran better than maybe I’ve ever seen him," center Matt Slauson said. "He was decisive, confident and powerful. It was a lot of fun. Fun to watch, a lot of fun to block for a guy when he was running like that."
And then it stopped.
Trailing 27-19, the Chargers had the ball first-and-goal from the Denver 2 with 2:54 left Sunday. Gordon’s number wasn’t called once. Philip Rivers threw four straight incompletions and Denver took over.
Although the Chargers got the ball back with 2:08 to go, they didn’t come close to scoring. They dropped to 3-5, snapping a two-game winning streak that had given fans a reason to think they could climb into the AFC West race.
Although guarded in their comments, some offensive linemen said they had the confidence Gordon could have gained those 2 yards.
"Yeah, absolutely," left guard Orlando Franklin said. "As an offensive lineman you’re going to have pride. You talk about being efficient. We talk about four yards or more being efficient in the run game. Obviously, you’re going to have confidence. Fact of the matter is, I don’t get paid to game-plan. That’s not part of my job. The coaches are going to call whatever they think is going to put our team in the right position and it’s our job to go out there and execute."
Said Slauson: "As an offensive lineman, I want to run the ball every play. If I had it my way it would be 75 straight plays of just running the ball. The reality is, I’m not in charge of calling plays. That’s (Ken) Whisenhunt’s job and he’s a fabulous coordinator. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him. The dude spends, so many hours looking at what is going to put us in the right call. So any call he makes I have the full belief that it is the right call. It’s not my job to second guess anything. I’m here to block."
Was there frustration as the pass calls kept coming in?
"Like I said, I want to run it all the time," Slauson said. "But I don’t have time to yell at Phil, `Why aren’t we running it?’ We’re there to block the call and score and win and we didn’t get that done."
Asked if he wished the Chargers had tried a running play or two during that sequence, right tackle Joe Barksdale said: "I’m going to no-comment that one because there’s no good answer to that question."
Coach Mike McCoy refused to second-guess the play-calling.
"Regardless of what we call, I wish we score," McCoy said. "Whether it was a run or pass, you’re calling things you think are going to work and score for you. It didn’t work. We can look at it today and say we should have called this or called that but we didn’t score. We were all trying to score."
Did he not have confidence Gordon could gain 2 yards?
"We called what we did. We got a great quarterback we thought could do what we did to score, and we didn’t," McCoy said.
The Chargers host Tennessee on Sunday, two days before the team will ask voters to approve an increase in the hotel occupancy tax to raise $1.15 billion to help pay for a new downtown stadium. The measure is expected to fall short of the third-thirds majority needed to pass.
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