It has been 25 years since the Los Angeles Chargers made their lone trip to the Super Bowl.
As the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots prepare for Super Bowl LIII, each team will look to further their legacies as each team has played in multiple Super Bowls and each team has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
The Chargers qualified for the world’s biggest sporting event one time. The date was January 29, 1994, and after a magical run to the final game of the season, the team landed in Miami for an all-California battle against the San Francisco 49ers.
To get there, the Chargers had to outlast Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round of the playoffs before venturing into Three Rivers Stadium and upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Riding a wave of momentum, the Bolts hoped they could shock the world again, but the Niners were a different animal.
Just one minute and 24 seconds into the game, Steve Young connected with Jerry Rice on a 44-yard touchdown pass. The play showed off how explosive the San Francisco offense was but it was poor defense on the part of the Chargers, who played Rice poorly all game.
Moments later, the 49ers struck again, this time with a 51-yard touchdown toss to Ricky Watters. With not even five minutes evaporated from the clock, the Chargers were already down 14-0.
Head coach Bobby Ross did his best to rally his troops. The Chargers responded by going on a 13-play, 78-yard drive that took over seven minutes off the clock. Natrone Means capped the drive by blasting in a 1-yard touchdown run.
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The Chargers were back in it, but they needed a defensive stop.
This was the critical juncture of the game. The Chargers needed to make a play on defense as they weren’t equipped to trade points with the 49ers.
But on first down, Young hit Rice for a 19-yard gain. After stopping Watters for a 1-yard loss, the Chargers then allowed Young to run it himself for 15 yards. The Chargers had a difficult time even getting the Niners into a third down on the possession and when they did, it was 3rd-and-1 from their 6-yard line.
The Niners converted that and moments later, Young tossed his third touchdown pass of the game, this time hitting William Floyd out of the backfield for an easy score. It was clear at that point that the Chargers were just along for the ride.
While the loss was rough and still stings all these years later, you can’t help but marvel at and respect that 49ers squad. It’s arguably one of the best in the history of the league. In fact, ESPN once ranked them as the eighth best team in NFL history.
Records were set on that day. Young set a record for touchdown passes in a Super Bowl with six and Rice tied his own Super Bowl record by catching three touchdown passes.
By the end of the night, the Chargers put up 26 points, but it was far from enough and the final score was nowhere near indicative of how lopsided this matchup was. Since that game, the Chargers have played in one AFC Championship Game, but that’s as close as they have ever been to getting back.
The 49ers, who became the first NFL team to win five Super Bowls with this victory, have never won another one since.