Years of uniquely blown losses finally broke Philip Rivers.
Until the San Diego Chargers prove otherwise, they will be remembered for this sideline assessment by Rivers, one of the franchise’s greatest players, after yet another baffling late-game gaffe.
The Chargers are the Bad News Bears. pic.twitter.com/xlkDpF7LhJ
— Chris Sembower (@ChrisSembower) October 9, 2016
The Bad News Bears, indeed.
It’s as good as any description of what’s happening in America’s Finest City.
What the Chargers are doing this season is uncanny. They are blowing games at an alarming rate. Digest this: The Chargers have outscored their opponents by a combined 10 points this season. Yet, they are 1-4. In contrast, the New York Jets are also 1-4. They’ve been outscored by 44 points this season.
The Oakland Raiders, the beneficiaries of the Chargers’ latest bumbling act, are 4-1. Yet, they have outscored their opponents by just 5 points. The Chargers and Raiders are pretty similar teams and their game Sunday was evenly matched. But there is one glaring difference — the Raiders know how to finish games. San Diego knows how to blow games.
To be fair, the Chargers have been blowing games for years. But this season, they are making it an art form. Chargers coach Mike McCoy can write a master thesis on how to let leads slip away in the fourth quarter.
There are reports he may be needing to find work if the Chargers don’t bounce back with a win on a short week Thursday night against Denver. The Broncos are vulnerable. Their coach, Gary Kubiak, is out this week after he recovers from falling ill after Sunday’s loss to Atlanta. Also, quarterback Trevor Siemian is expected to start with a tender shoulder that kept him out of the game with the Falcons.
Still, even if the Chargers take a lead, the overriding consensus in the stands (and probably on the field) will be: How will the Chargers blow the game this time?
It’s a fair question. They’ve been so special in creating their own misery.
Sunday, it was a botched snap on a manageable field-goal attempt that would have tied the game in Oakland at 34-34 with a little more than 2 minutes to go.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all; something like this happens,” a shell-shocked McCoy said after the game.
This came a week after the Chargers gave up a 13-point lead at home against New Orleans. The Chargers blew that game by losing fumbles on back-to-back offensive plays that resulted in New Orleans touchdowns. McCoy blew a gasket after the game.
“(I’m) furious,” McCoy said. “It’s a major disappointment. You get the lead we had, and to fall apart — (it’s) a major disappointment. Frustration is an understatement. I can’t say right now in this microphone how I really, truly feel.”
The Chargers began this scream season by taking a 27-3 lead at Kansas City in Week 1. Yet, San Diego saw a 21-point lead late in the third quarter disappear as the Chiefs won the game in overtime.
It had to be a bad omen for Rivers. I spoke to him in August about the Chargers’ penchant for blowing late leads over the years. The flip would have to start landing on the other side of the quarter at some point, right?
“I sure hope so,” Rivers said.
But it keeps coming up tails for the Chargers. This issue is nothing new under McCoy. They’ve been routinely choking games, whether it was on Christmas Eve in Oakland last season, Week 5 against Pittsburgh in 2015 or Week 1 against Arizona in 2014.
Of course, this trend started in McCoy’s first game in San Diego when the Chargers coughed up a 21-point lead against Houston on Monday Night Football to lose the game.
McCoy’s Chargers are always in the game. But they don’t often win the game. The Chargers went 4-12 on the energy-draining power of losing nine times in one-score games. San Diego lost three games by a field goal. The Chargers are 23-30 with McCoy despite almost always being competitive.
It has to be galling to ownership that the McCoy Chargers are famous for choking, because the Chargers had hoped the days of losing heartbreakers were over when Norv Turner was fired after the 2012 season. The Chargers blew some doozies under Turner.
There was the “Monday Night Football game in 2012 when the Chargers took a 24-0 halftime lead against the Broncos and Peyton Manning, who was in his first season in Denver. Manning led a comeback that resulted in a 35-24 Denver win. A month later, the Chargers gave up a 30-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Ray Rice on fourth-and-29 in the final moments to set up another blown San Diego victory.
There was Halloween night in Kansas City in 2011 when Rivers muffed a snap and it was recovered by Kansas City as San Diego was ready to line up for a chip-shot field-goal attempt to win the game.
This is an uncanny, unexplainable recent history – for the franchise that suffered the Holy Roller loss to Oakland in 1978. The script remains the same for these Bad News Bears, a movie series San Diego badly wants to see end.