SAN DIEGO-If Sunday’s 2015 home finale for the San Diego Chargers was indeed the last game they are to play at Qualcomm Stadium, the team at least gave their fans something to shout about. At times, it got pretty emotional after the Chargers wiped the Miami Dolphins off the field with a 30-14 win. Thousands of fans stayed more than an hour after the game, shouting, “Save our Bolts!
Quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates, wide receiver Malcolm Floyd and safety Eric Weddle were among players wading back onto the field to sign autographs and touch a hand or two. The vibe was so touching and moving that it overshadowed the four-touchdown performance by Danny Woodhead that gave the Chargers their fourth win in a season of almost, close and maybe.
“Amazing,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “(He) never shocks you, right? Everyone was asking a couple of weeks ago why he doesn’t get the ball more. Well, obviously, if he’s going to do this every week, (then) we should have given it to him a lot more. Phenomenal. A great route (on) the first touchdown there and Philip (Rivers) made a great throw (with) protection up front. That was executed to perfection and that is what it’s all about. He is a playmaker and we are very fortunate to have him here.”
The win against the Dolphins was nice for the victory-starved Chargers. This game meant a lot more to the players and the fans than a simple victory that has no meaning in the standings. This game was more about the San Diego community and its longtime partnership with the Chargers franchise.
With much talk about the team possibly being one of three teams moving to the greater Los Angeles area (Carson or Inglewood, more specifically), fans had a sense this just might be the last time they see their heroes. Players sensed it as well, which can simply explain why Chargers players were going up to the stands after the game to mingle, shake hands and return a smile to the people who have come to support them over the last 54 years since they’ve been in town.
Qualcomm Stadium has been home to the Chargers since 1967. The realistic possibility that the Chargers’ tenure at Qualcomm Stadium might be over has hit fever pitch the last few months. Los Angeles, the nation’s No. 2 market, has been without an NFL team since the now St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders bolted out of town. There’s an outside chance that the Rams, Raiders and Chargers may wind up in Los Angeles.
That would mean the San Diego community would be void without one of its longstanding icons.That’s a heartbreak pill to swallow for Chargers players.
“It’s a phenomenal moment,” Gates said. “I can’t say enough about these fans. They came out here and supported us. The team collectively has so many memories here in the stadium and in this city. Like i’ve said, you can only control so much as a football player and our job is to come out and play hard. That is all that we can control and hopefully we will be back. We will see what the future holds.”
Gates went on to discuss the Miami game possibly being his last game at Qualcomm Stadium.
“That definitely crossed my mind, but at the end of the day all I can control is my will, my drive, and my competitive edge,” Gates said. “Coming out, fighting for this organization that I have been doing for these past 12 years, that is all I can do. I would love to be a Charger here and retire as a Charger, but I can only control what I can control.”
Keeping control of his emotions was not something that Floyd was able to do very well as a video tribute playing homage to him blared on stadium screens.
“I didn’t know I was going to get so emotional,” Floyd said. “I was hoping I wouldn’t. We got two more games left, two more huge battles. That’s the focus right now, but right now I am just going to try and soak in this win. It’s been hard getting a win this season. I’m just going to soak it.”
For the last couple of weeks, people have been wondering what’s happened to the San Diego Chargers offense. In three of the last four games the Chargers played before they beat up on the bumbling and stumbling Miami Dolphins, a team that can’t seem to get out of its own way, San Diego has looked about as inept offensively as the visitors landing in Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.
Two defeats against the Kansas City Chiefs and a loss to the Denver Broncos saw the Chargers muster only a combined nine points. And if you’re going to score just three points per contest, which the Chargers did, then it is a pretty sure thing that your team won’t be walking away with a victory. The Chargers decided to change that tune against the Dolphins.
In the home finale of the season for the Chargers, and what very well could be the end of the San Diego franchise playing its football games in Qualcomm Stadium, the team’s propensity to score points came alive. And they left nothing to chance.
Unlike the 10-3 defeat to the Chiefs in Week 14, the 22-19 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 9, and the close mishaps in Week 8 (29-26 loss to Baltimore Ravens), Week 6 (27-20 defeat to Green Bay Packers) and Week 5 (24-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers), the Chargers got out of the gate early and kept the lead, thanks in large part to Woodhead’s three first-half touchdowns.
“It was awesome to go out and get the win,” Woodhead said. “That’s what we prepared for all week and it went the way we planned. It’s nice to get the win on the last home game of the year.”