The Chargers are happy. They finished 11-5 and secured a wild card spot in the playoffs. Fans are rejoicing after packing up their jerseys and other football gear early for last 2 seasons. Oh wait, that is in the world of Bizarro that that happened. for those that aren’t a geek like me, Bizarro is the antagonist of Superman. This might help explain
The season is over and like many fans I am looking ahead to a new GM and Head Coach, scouting college players, and as a born and raised San Diego fan; waiting for a good looking Padres team to start spring training. However, today I am looking back. Looking back on a season of what-ifs. What-if the Chargers hadn’t blown that 24-0 lead to Denver? What-if Robert Meachem hadn’t dropped that sure thing TD pass in Cleveland? but will not include the: What-if I hadn’t eaten that bacon-wrapped hotdog from the old mexican lady with the hibachi grill while while waiting to cross the Tijuana border. Trust me, that is a night I do not want to relive!
So, the following are the top 5 what-if moments that drastically altered that the outcome of the game, and our season. There are many more plays that I could count, but this is a list of plays that had they turned out differently, we most likely win that game.
In a galaxy far far away in another time and dimension, these plays went the other direction and led to the Chargers being 11-5 and a wild card team. Counting down in reverse order…..
5. 4th and 29. I thought about making this higher. However, it was late in the season and happening to an already defeated Chargers team that had been dreadful in the 2nd half. This was the cherry-on-top moment that summed up the entire Chargers season. Had we made the stop we win the game. This play was allowed to happen in part because we had so many injuries to defensive players, several of them took poor angles. We were also the recipient of an incredible no-call for block in the back when Eric Weddle got destroyed by Anquon Boldin. In a league that is all about player safety, I don’t know how that doesn’t get called.
4. Dropped Passes. This one could be 3A and 3B as my fellow Bolt Beat writer BoogaP could attest as we went to the game in Cleveland together. In the 3rd quarter with the Chargers own 7-3 at midfield, Robert Meachem gets behind the defense and is open by about 10 yards and Rivers hits him straight in the hands. But Meachem dropped the ball in what would have been a sure touchdown and would have put the Chargers up 10-7. This game was windy, rainy and both teams had trouble offensively, had Meachem made that catch, we win that game.
The other dropped pass happened right in front of where BoogaP and I were sitting. With the Chargers trailing by 1, 7-6, the Browns were backed up inside their own 10 yard line. Brandon Weedon took short 3 step drop and fired a short pass to the right. Atari Bigby had it read perfectly and jumped the route, only to have it bounce off his hands. Had he caught it, he walks into endzone and we go up 13-7 late in the 4th. Had either of these passes been caught, we win the game and more importantly stop a bad mojo we had going after 2 heartwrenching losses to NO and Denver. Speaking of which…
3. Commish-Saints-Refs-Conspiracy. Late in the 3rd quarter with the Chargers leading the Saints 24-14, Chargers LB Demarrio Williams intercepts Drew Brees for a TAINT (touchdown after INT). Chargers go up 31-14 and put the game out of reach. Only the play gets negated due to a somewhat questionable roughing the passer call on Melvin Ingram. Instead of going up 31-14, NO gets ball back and promptly scores a TD cutting the lead to 24-21.
Then late in the 4th quarter, the Chargers are driving for chance to tie game, and back to back plays Rivers completes deep passes to Floyd and Gates, only to have EACH ONE called back for penalties that even the commentators had trouble justifying. On a day when Drew Brees broke the consecutive TD record and Sean Payton was allowed to watch the game by the Commish, there was no way the league was going ot let the Saint lose. Had we not had those penalty flags go against us every time, we win that game and would improve to 4-1 to start the season.
2. 24-0 at Halftime. I think most of us just threw up in our mouth a little bit, right? Never in my life have I witnessed such a meltdown and a team look so lost after playing nearly flawless the first half. Our defense that had held the Broncos scoreless in the 1st half all of a sudden couldn’t stop Peyton Manning who went 13-14 and 3 TD’s in 2nd half. Our offense disappeared as Rivers was under constant pressure which led to a career high 5 turnovers in the 2nd half. It was an epic meltdown that one has to believe might have been avoided had we had a head coach who could rally the players. If we had a better offensive line that could have kept Rivers upright, and given him time to throw or created holes for Mathews to run through. If we had even an average cornerback who could have covered a WR. We might have been able to avoid this catastrophe and win the game.
Those are my top 4 Bizarro moments from 2012 in which the Chargers could have turned around their season and went 11-5. But all of those moments don’t even come close to my number 1 2012 Chargers moment that affected our season:
1. Norv Turner and AJ Smith will return for 2012. A quotefrom Dean Spanos “Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to return to the playoffs.” Hang on….I just threw up again. This is the biggest reason our season turned out the way it did. We had a chance to at the very least fire Norv and go after (in my opinion) Jeff Fisher. The players could not rally around Norv this year and he didn’t seem to try to. Rivers, who off the field never threw him under the bus and supported Norv, never seemed to get along with him on the sidelines. I’m so happy that I don’t have to look anymore at least at that constipated look he always has
In our world this was a wasted season, but perhaps in an alternate universe somewhere out there, we are 11-5 and in the playoffs. Please feel free to add your own moments in the comments section.