1983: Chargers go 6-10
Under head coach Don Coryell, the Chargers put together some great seasons and to this day, many fans and analysts consider those teams to be the best that never won the Super Bowl. Though they came close, they never even reached the Super Bowl under Coryell.
From 1979-82, the Chargers advanced to at least the divisional round of the playoffs in each of those years. Though those playoff losses were tough to deal with, the 1983 season that followed was even worse.
The Chargers of the “Air Coryell” era had piled up yards and points at a record clip, overcome the Oakland Raiders in the postseason and outlasted the Miami Dolphins in the “Epic in Miami”. In 1981, the only thing that slowed them down were the frigid temperatures in Cincinnati during the AFC Championship Game that will forever be known as the “Freezer Bowl”.
In 1982, the Chargers got a huge win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs in what would be Terry Bradshaw‘s final playoff game with the team. They suffered a tough loss to the Dolphins the following week, but it seemed evident that the team was close. Dan Fouts was named Offensive Player of the Year that season and the quarterback seemed destined to the lead the Bolts to the top.
But things fell apart in 1983.
The Chargers allowed 41 points to the New York Jets in a season-opening loss and after rebounding by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs the following week, the Chargers dropped back-to-back games to the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns.
A four-game losing streak in the middle of the season sealed the team’s fate and the Chargers finished the year at 6-10, well below expectations.
After coming within a game or two of playing in the Super Bowl in four straight seasons, the lowly ’83 campaign set off a string of nine consecutive seasons in which the Chargers missed the playoffs.