Curse of the 4th quarter prevents Chargers from being 4-0
By Nick Matt
The 2016 Chargers have had commanding leads in all four games heading into the last quarter only to watch those leads disappear in a matter of minutes. The Chargers are sitting at 1-3 and not 4-0 wondering, “How can this happen?”
It’s been a very common nightmare for the Chargers the past few seasons. However, this season has been far worse, as the Bolts are thrashing the opposition through three quarters in every game with one win to show for it. This cannot happen, especially when the Chargers need to put a winning product on the field on Sundays if they hope to stay in San Diego long-term.
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Week 1 ended as bad as anyone could have imagined. Any game in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City is a very tough game to win. The Chargers put on a first-half barrage of the Chiefs, leading 24-3 at halftime against a team picked by many to win the AFC West. Right before halftime, the injury bug took its first victim in star wide receiver, Keenan Allen, who was having his way with the Chiefs until he tore his ACL after he made a cut downfield. The Chargers took a 27-10 lead into the fourth quarter and for some reason abandoned the run game and played the last quarter scared, eventually losing in overtime 33-27. That was just the beginning of our fourth-quarter meltdowns of 2016.
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Heading into Week 2, the Chargers played a team they were expected to beat at home in the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bolts started strong and finished that game on the shoulders of Melvin Gordon’s first 100-yard rushing game. Week 3 was back to the typical fourth-quarter team after holding a lead late in the game. The Chargers once again found a way to fumble the game away, literally.
The Chargers went up 22-20 midway through the fourth only to see T.Y. Hilton cap off his amazing day with a TD that put the Colts on top with a minute and some change left. The Chargers had a chance to win it late. They got a little momentum with a good gain from rookie Hunter Henry, who was making his first career start, but he fumbled trying to gain extra yards on the play. Also, his first career fumble couldn’t have come at a worse time, but it’s something the rookie will grow from. That capped off the Week 3 meltdown.
That leads us to the latest roller coaster of the 2016-2017 season, Week 4 at home against the Saints.
Philip Rivers and former teammate Drew Brees were extra ramped up for this one. It was Brees’ first time back at the “Q” as a visiting quarterback. Rivers looked to have won the head-to-head matchup. But there are four 15-minute quarters to every game, and once again the Chargers didn’t play a full football game when they saw another fourth-quarter lead disappear.
The Chargers were on top of the Saints 34-21 with 8:39 left in the game. A Gordon fumble gave Brees a short field to work with, which, if you know anything about football, you know Brees will capitalize on that. The Chargers got the ball back with 4:50 left. Rivers put a few positive plays together only to see newly acquired Travis Benjamin fumble the ball after making a cut up field and wasn’t even touched. Once again, Brees had a short field to work with and put another TD drive together. Rivers had no late-game magic in this one, throwing his first interception of the year on a desperation pass inside two minutes.
The Chargers could have easily been sitting on top of the AFC West, which some consider the best division in the NFL. Late-game mental errors, lackadaisical plays and questionable coaching decisions have caused the Bolts to be 1-3 instead of 4-0 and looking up at the rest of the division.
The AFC West is very tough, and falling into an early hole can really diminish our playoff hopes early in the season.