SAN DIEGO-The playoffs are now a pipe dream. There was one lone bright spot for the San Diego Chargers Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t a pick six touchdown. It didn’t come in the form of a sack. A spectacular catch wasn’t in the cards, either. That shiny moment didn’t happen during the field of play.
It came in the middle of the four-quarter stoppage of the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs AFC West Division game at Qualcomm Stadium. The good story of the day was that future NFL Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson officially made his presence into the Chargers Ring of Honor.
Tomlinson, the newest inductee into the Chargers Hall of Fame, also became only the fourth franchise player to have number (21) retired. During the intermission ceremony of the Chiefs’ 33-3 win, Tomlinson galvanized and wooed the home crowd with an emotional speech. It’s too bad those heartfelt emotions didn’t translate into a victory for the Chargers.
“Give credit to our defense,” Kansas City Chiefs coach Any Reid said. “I thought our defense played a good football game all the way around.”
During the last six games for the Chargers (2-8), the end result has been the same: a loss. Six games, six straight defeats. This game went into the win column for the Chiefs because Kansas City did enough right things to come up victorious. On the other hand, the Chargers did a lot of things that went wrong. The Chargers can point their fingers in a lot of directions of what they didn’t do to secure the team’s first win in six games.
A returned interception for a touchdown, a botched catch that resulted in a fumble on a punt return, dropped passes, a stagnant running attack and giving up enough big plays to make the Chiefs look like an offensive juggernaut at times. However, the laundry list doesn’t stop there. The Chargers were flat all-around.
And it showed. Quarterback Philip Rivers couldn’t event crack the 200-yard mark passing, going for 178 yards through the air with a 65.7 passer rating. San Diego’s rushing attack went nowhere for the afternoon, whiffing at 52 yards and a cloud of dust on 25 carries.
For a moment, at least for the first half, the contest looked like it was going to be one of those games that would be evenly dominated by defense. It looked this way until the Chiefs blew the game wide open with 21 second-half points. The dagger that put the game on ice came when the Chiefs’ Justin Houston stepped in from a Chargers screen play and returned a Rivers pass 17 yards for a touchdown in the third period.
There was plenty of that kind of defensive play going around for the Chiefs and very little to look at in the offensive category from the Chargers.
In the case of the Chargers, fresh off a bye week, there wasn’t much that was happening in any part of their offensive scheme. That’s because was the seven-letter word in the name of defense became the overwhelming theme for the matinee contest. The Chiefs would not let the Chargers move the move, stifling the run game and putting the brakes on Philip Rivers and San Diego’s high-flying passing game.
It wasn’t like the Chargers didn’t have their chances to make a play or two. The Chargers simply missed their share of opportunities.
“We missed a lot of opportunities,” defensive tackle Corey Liuget said. “We missed some sacks. We dropped the ball. We did a lot of bad stuff as a team, defensively, offensively, special teams. We did pretty bad. You’re not going to win football games like that.
“The mood is getting the next win. That’s the most important thing is to win. Guys are ready. Guys are preparing. We’re working our tails off’. We’re just not getting the wins, and it sucks.”
Early in the third quarter, Rivers, under heavy rush, overshot a wide open Antonio Gates that might have resulted the tight end running into the endzone. Later in the period, again under duress from the Chiefs, Rivers found a crease to fit in a perfect pass to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman that could resulted in a long gain on third down. But would have, should have and maybe won’t cut it for a team desperate in need for a win.
When a team like the Chargers is desperate for a win, sometimes feelings are expressed the wrong way. Tension become high. Raw emotions boil over as evident of a video displaying an angry verbal exchange on the sidelines between Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates.
“Really what I said really doesn’t matter,” Rivers said. “Brothers fuss and fight to any of you that have brothers. I love Antonio, and I think he will tell you the same thing. It’s two probably the most competitive guys on the team that’s been here as long as anybody, for the most part…I think we’re at our last straw.”