SAN DIEGO-Opportunity. That would be the best word to describe the San Diego Chargers 2016 season. Like they have done all season, the Chargers put themselves in position for a win against the Miami Dolphins. And like they have executed all year long, the Chargers failed to put the finishing touches on a potential victory.
So now after Miami decided to play the interception game with Philip Rivers in the Dolphins’ 31-24 win at Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers walk into their bye week with a 4-6 record. It is a mark that easily should be 8-2. But those doggone opportunities continue to whisper with regret in the Chargers’ ears.
It is a persistent annoyance that would drive any team up the wall. For San Diego head coach Mike McCoy, the little things that has cost the Chargers a couple wins this season must be driving him and his team batty.
As it is, the Chargers are going to be second-guessing several of those defeats they should have claimed as victories. The fumble debacle against the New Orleans Saints. The field goal blunder against the Oakland Raiders. The trip up against the Indianapolis Colts.
Now comes the pick-a-pass contest Miami defenders played with Rivers in intercepting the Chargers star quarterback four times in the final period of Sunday’s game to leave a sour taste in the mouths of perhaps the most talented team in the AFC West Division.
“I think overall, looking at the game, too many missed opportunities throughout the entire game in all three phases and turning the football over and giving a good team too many opportunities to capitalize off of,” McCoy said. “There’s a lot of ball left. We’ve got to look at every detail of what we’re doing and move on from this tough loss.”
Rivers throwing four interceptions in any one game is pretty much unthinkable. But getting picked four times in the fourth quarter is just an abbreviated smear on the resume of the future NFL Hall of Famer.
After giving the Chargers an early 10-0 lead, Rivers ended the game throwing interceptions on two of his last three passes, including putting a pass in the lap of linebacker Kiko Alonso, who returned the gift 60 yards for the game-winning score with 1:01 left in the game.
“We just kept at it, man,” Alonso said. “We had some bad situations but we came out of them.”
Rivers other two picks came in the red zone, a definite no-no that he concurs should never have happened.
“Obviously, it can’t happen down in there,” said Rivers, alluding to those red zone interceptions. “There were two of them right there fixing to score, and then obviously the last one there with a chance to win the game with a field goal. The guy made a great play. The one in the end zone to Tyrell (Williams), who had a good play, fell off his man and made the play on the fade in the end zone. Then I just missed (Antonio) Gates. I just missed the throw on that one to Gates on the corner route. There were obviously too many missed opportunities in the game. We scored late and then took the lead a few times, but we just didn’t get it done.”
It’s a shame that Rivers and the Chargers were not able to close the deal on walking into their by week with a .500 mark. It also overshadowed a pretty decent game by Rivers, who passed for 300 yards (326 yards, 3 touchdowns) for the 50th time in his career, and passed John Elway (300) for eighth place on the all-time touchdown pass list (301).
Miami cornerback Tony Lippett, the man who committed two of those pass thefts against Rivers, including a game-ending interception, canceled out two potential scoring threats by the Chargers. The most important one was the interception he came down with was when he stepped in front of Tyrell Williams in the end zone to snatch a sure Chargers touchdown away.
“My receiver just stopped on the line and I just looked at Philip (Rivers) and I saw his arm go back like he was going to throw the fade so I just jumped and tried to make a play on the ball. I was able to make that play. I was just trying to be there for my teammates.”