Down goes Johnson. Down goes Allen. Six words the San Diego Chargers are unwittingly living with today.
It was hard enough for the the Chargers to deal with wide receiver Stevie Johnson being lost for the season after sustaining a knee injury during training camp. They’ve got double-trouble now after seeing wideout Keenan Allen being carted off the football field in the Chargers’ season-opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hopefully, Allen’s injury is not as people think. But it sure didn’t look good.
That is not just bad news. That is an unthinkable memo being passed around like a bad dream. It was just last year that Allen lost half of the 2015 season with a lacerated kidney injury.
The possibility of Allen being gone a second straight year is without a doubt a psychological blow to the playoff-driven Chargers. Allen’s injury hits right in the gut.
The Chargers re-stocked, reloaded and re-tooled its roster in the offseason to be in position to compete for the AFC West title. Johnson and Allen were definitely part of those plans. It was just a few years ago, Allen hauled in 71 passes for 1,046 yards as a rookie in 2013.
He followed that year with a sophomore season of 77 catches for 783 yards. At the halfway point of the 2015 season, he caught 67 balls for 675 yards through eight games before his unexpected injury. Allen was quarterback Philip Rivers’ security blanket behind the security blanket of tight end Antonio Gates.
After a 45-catch, 497 yards productive sheet in 2015, the explosive Johnson, who had three 1,000 receiving yards seasons with the Buffalo Bills, figured to have his role expanded this season. So now that the Chargers are down two of their top wide receivers, what will San Diego do?
Play ball. They really have no choice in the matter. Sitting around and having a pity-party is not going to help the Chargers make the playoffs. Wins will.
The two losses the Chargers suffered against Kansas City may haunt them for the rest of the season. It may not. But the Chargers’ 33-27 overtime loss was not an added plus in the confident-booster category. By any stretch of the imagination, when you give up a 21- point lead the way the Chargers did, the sting of defeat can last a very long time.
It’s called the hangover affect. They may not experience it right away, but this loss is going to linger for a minute or two on San Diego’s radar screen. You hope it doesn’t. You hope that the Chargers can look past their inability to close out the Chiefs after building a 24-3 third quarter lead, and throw this defeat to the curb and keep it moving.
It’s only one game. So you hope that coming up on the short end of this painful loss will only serve as a motivating tool for the Chargers to improve on what they weren’t able to do in Kansas City. More importantly, you hope that the Chargers just get over it. Period.
It’s either be part of the fold up camp or keep the mission alive of trying to win the AFC West Division and clinch a postseason berth. The Chargers have 15 more games to prove they belong in that conversation. However, that was a bad look on Sunday, in more ways than one.
On the road, playing against one of their chief rivals in the AFC West Division, the Chargers were kicking butt and taking names along the way to building their 24-3 lead. Running back Melvin Gordon scored the first two touchdowns of his career; Rivers played pretty good.
The defense was on lockdown mode. But then all of a sudden Alex Smith remembered to go through with his best Tom Brady impersonation and lead his team to an improbable come-from-behind, overtime win against the Chargers after diving in the endzone on a two-yard touchdown run.
Did Allen’s injury have anything to do with the Chargers’ collapse at Arrowhead Stadium? Maybe. Maybe not. It is just not a good way to kick off your season, that’s for sure.