“Same old San Diego Chargers,” that was the rallying cry from the fans heading out of Qualcomm Stadium after witnessing another shocking defeat on Monday night.
The final drive of the game felt like déjà vu all over again, as this defeat was quite reminiscent of past colossal late-game collapses by this franchise.
The script hasn’t changed much as the offense comes out of the tunnel running on all cylinders by scoring a touchdown on their first drive. Despite all of the playmakers on the field, they sleepwalk through the second and third quarters, as one drive after another stalls because of costly penalties and a lack of execution. Then suddenly, the offense comes back to life with multiple scoring drives in the final quarter. What a memorable win…not so fast.
The defense didn’t hold its end of the bargain, as the front seven was solid early on in the contest, even putting decent pressure on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Michael Vick, who was having a terrible game until the fourth quarter.
The smell of a Steelers comeback was in the air, especially after Vick hooked up with Marcus Wheaton for a 72-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 17 halfway through the final stanza. The defense wilted during the final game-winning drive, as they couldn’t contain Vick in the pocket. He scampered for 24-yards straight through the heart of the Chargers defense on a key third-and six run. Then the inevitable happened, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell literally carried his team to victory with a one-yard rushing touchdown as time expired.
Charger fans were left shocked and dismayed after another last-minute loss that has the city of San Diego searching for answers. The standard post-game comments were heard, “We were one defensive stop away from winning. No one on this team will allow this outcome to happen again. We have become a better team from experiencing this type of defeat.” Blah…Blah…Blah. All of these words are a foreign language to the long-suffering Charger fans.
This outcome is getting old real fast, as they’re plenty of blame to go around for all involved. It’s the type of loss that hangs over a lockerroom for an entire season, especially if you miss the playoffs by one game. If a team cannot close out winnable games, then they will never accomplished their goals.
Time and time again, the Chargers have never matched the opposition’s intensity and aggressiveness on the football field. Repeatedly, the team has failed to protect a lead and make the key stops to win a big game. On Monday night, the Steelers turned their play up a notch in the final quarter, and the Chargers never made the necessary adjustments to alter their newfound momentum.
Instead of heading to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers after a hard-fought victory, the Chargers are one loss away from effectively ending their chase for the AFC West crown.
Professional football is a crazy business, as each play and yard gained or losted has the potential to impact the fate of players, coaches, teams and seasons for better or worse. Good teams have to be near flawless in the fourth quarter because that’s where a dynasty is born.
The Chargers have only one question they need to answer: are you a playoff contender because good football teams play four quarters. Unfortunately, the fans haven’t seen a dominant performance from them yet in 2015, and odds are in favor they will see this same result again later this year.