Four plays that doomed the Los Angeles Chargers’ 2017 season
By Tyler Schoon
Reflecting on the year, I take a look at some of the plays that doomed the Los Angeles Chargers’ 2017 season.
There’s optimism heading into the Chargers’ offseason, that’s for sure. But there would be no need to be thinking of the draft, or free-agency, or OTA’s yet if the Bolts had just made the playoffs. When it comes right down to it, a few plays truly doomed the Chargers’ first year in Los Angeles. Here are a few that stood out to me, as well as some “dishonorable” mentions:
Philip Rivers’ overtime interception against Jacksonville
You could probably put Austin Ekeler’s fumble over this one, but Rivers’ interception was really the game-crusher for the Chargers.
Anything would have been better than Rivers’ famous “arm punt”. The Jaguars weren’t exactly scoring much the entire game, and the Chargers’ defense could have held Blake Bortles for one more series. Instead, the ball gets picked off and the Jaguars kick a field goal to win. Decisions by Rivers like this one cost them the game, and habits like this lost at least two more games throughout the season.
Travis Benjamin’s punt return for a safety
A 7-7 game had Chargers’ fans eagerly waiting to see Rivers get back on the field, score on the New England Patriots and take a commanding lead on the road. Instead, this is what we got:
Travis Benjamin what are you doing?!
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 29, 2017
The Chargers had been in scoring position the last two drives (the first a missed field goal) and could have likely marched right back down the field to take a lead. Benjamin had other plans, and took a safety. 9-7 New England lead. Per rules, the Chargers had to punt to the Patriots, who used the extra series to score a field goal and put themselves up 12-7. A-five point swing likely cost the game, as the Chargers never really recovered and fell 21-13. Again, another important game that could have been won if not for an egregious error.
Younghoe Koo’s missed field goal against Miami
Koo had a field goal blocked the week prior, but this one was a clean shot for the rookie. Down 17-19, all he had to do was make a short kick. Well…
Younghoe Koo misses his try for the winning kick… Dolphins win.
Final:LA – 17Miami – 19#Chargers #Dolphins #Stubhub pic.twitter.com/fj0qepZJZW
— Rich Ohrnberger (@ohrnberger) September 17, 2017
Wide right. Total miss, even though the Chargers’ cannon fired signaling that the kick was good. It not only dropped the Bolts to 0-2, but it would go on to represent the kicking woes for the rest of the season. If Koo makes that kick, he’s probably retained, gains confidence and is possibly a solid kicker heading into next season. Instead, he’s cut a few weeks later, and the Chargers miss the postseason by one win.
LeGarrette Blount’s 68-yard run for the Eagles
The Chargers had just moved 75 yards in roughly two minutes the drive prior to bring the score to 19-17, only needing a field goal to win the game at this point with almost the whole fourth quarter to play. Then, on an Eagles’ 2nd-and-6, this happened:
Ertz got two Chargers on LeGarrette Blount's Beast Mode run last week. pic.twitter.com/ZnyCnwVZrX
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) October 6, 2017
Eagles’ back LeGarrette Blount went full Terminator against the Chargers’ “defense”, and bulldozed his way to the 3-yard line. Wendell Smallwood would go on to rush for the game-winning touchdown a few plays later, and the Chargers were down 26-17 needing two scores with nine minutes left. What’s more frustrating is that the Chargers would go on to score with ease, only down 26-24. Unfortunately, Rivers never got the ball back, and the Bolts would drop to 0-4. The Chargers had every opportunity to beat a team that is now the number one seed in the NFC, and they let it fall away thanks to poor run defense.
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- Austin Ekeler’s fumbles against the Jaguars AND the Chiefs
- Joey Bosa’s roughing the passer call against the Jaguars
- Any of Philip Rivers’ six interceptions against the Chiefs
- Blocked field goal that would have forced overtime against the Broncos
- Darius Philon’s illegal use of the hands penalty on third down after Desmond King sacked Carson Wentz
Any that I missed? This season really did come down to a couple of plays. The Chargers were really only “beaten” by their opponent in one or two games this season; instead, they opted to beat themselves. Hope for better times next season. Go Bolts!