SAN DIEGO-The San Diego Chargers like to make things interesting. The month of September wasn’t too kind for the Chargers. The Chargers won their first game of the season against the Detroit Lions on the NFL’s opening Sunday. The offensive unit had their way with the Lions defense, scoring 33 points. The train then went off the rails the last two weekends of the month with a pair of road losses as the Chargers managed just a combined 33 points.
So, what’s a team to do?
Win, but add some drama to the victory celebration. How about make things a bit more interesting. That’s what the Chargers did in their 30-27 win against the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium. Once again, another NFL game ended with last-gasp theatrics. If the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night game was full of high drama, the matchup between the Chargers and the Browns almost played out to be the sequel.
Except there was an opposite ending to the Chargers’ script. The Steelers, whom the Chargers play on Monday night, are still miffed over the two missed goals at the end of their game against the Ravens that resulted in a 23-20 defeat.
The Chargers can’t relate to that kind of pain as their place kicker-Josh Lambo-converted his walk-off opportunity, booting a 34-yard field goal with zero ticks on the clock to give San Diego a much-needed win at home. For a second, though, it looked as if Lambo came down with kicking-itis and blew his chance to end the game when he misfired on his first attempt at it.
But a Browns player was penalized for being offsides, and that gave Lambo and the Chargers a reprieve to seal the deal. Thank goodness for second chances. Lambo nailed the kick and the Chargers walked off their home field with their second win of the season. This was no doubt a victory the Chargers had to have.
“I think it’s going to build our confidence,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said. “We already had confidence but getting the win after two straight losses and then having a Monday night game at home next week, we definitely should be feeling pretty good about ourselves. Hopefully, we have a good week of practice, get good preparation in and do the job.”
Lambo did his job by kicking the game-winning points. But this must be some type of a season for placekickers where making routine kicks has all of a sudden become like climbing Mount Everest. You could hear Qualcomm Stadium let out a collective sigh of relief after Lambo made his second try. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. The Chargers didn’t just come into this game desperate for a win, they were thirsty for it.
The Ravens weren’t the only NFL team desperately needing to get in the win column in Week 4. There were a handful of teams that lined up with urgent status to their season on Sunday. You can go down the line and name them.
The Chargers were right there in the boat with their AFC counterparts in need of a win to stop the bleeding of enduring one defeat after another. Going 1-2 at the beginning of the season isn’t the end of the world. It is not a time for panic, especially with the early season defeats to Cincinnati and Minnesota being on the road.
With that in mind, the Chargers knew what time it was going into their fourth game. A record of 2-2 sounds a lot better than going 1-3, and falling deeper in the hole in the tough AFC West Division.
“We just wanted to get a win,” running back Danny Woodhead said after the game. “Any time you get a win in this league, (which) is so tough to do, it doesn’t matter who it is and it doesn’t matter who you are playing. As long as you win the game, it is a definitely a good thing and a celebration in here because we work really hard during the weekend to get that.”
The Browns were pretty much in the same lane as the Chargers with only one victory to their name. They left San Diego with that same one win. But they sure as heck made it a fight. Every time it looked as though the Chargers had put them away, the Browns came crawling back, scrapping their way back into the contest. Browns quarterback Josh McCown nearly matched Philip Rivers (358 yards, 3 TDs) in production, going for 356 yards through the air and a pair of touchdowns.
Prior to the last drive, thanks to a big run by Woodhead (66 yards) and a huge catch and run by Dontelle Iman (68 yards), the Chargers had the benefit of being in position to win. But nothing really flowed all day for the Chargers offense. The offensive unit did not operate in sync was it normally does. But they made plays when it counted, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.
“This is a confidence-booster,” linebacker Melvin Ingram said. “We just tried to lay it on the line, just tried to get our confidence back.”