The Chargers Can't Finish

The last two years, this team has lost 13 games by one score.

Jim Rome
October 13, 2020 - 9:54 am
Taysom Hill

USA Today

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Sunday night was a great night for SoCal sports fans. Monday night? YEAH, Not so much. In fact, it was pretty horrible. Because for a long time, it looked like it was going to be great. It looked like the Chargers and Dodgers were going to follow up the Lakers with big wins of their own. Then it all went to hell. For both.

Let’s start with the Los Angeles Chargers. Last night’s game in primetime against the New Orleans Saints felt like another coming out party for Justin Herbert. If, for some reason, you didn’t know why the Chargers had made the rookie their starter, you do now. Because he went 20 for 34 for 264 yards and four touchdowns. And he staked the team to a 17-point lead.

He led them on a 9-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the team’s first possession. And the only slight blemish on the drive was the fact that LA missed the extra point. But it’s a long game, that’s never going to matter, is it?

In the first half, LA was dominating and the Saints were playing not just bad football, but not smart football. I might even go so far as to say: dumb football.

Bad penalties. Bad throws. Blown coverages. An All-Pro missing a big game because he allegedly punched a teammate. It’s ugly. About as ugly as the idiotic roughing the punter penalty that let the Chargers keep the ball on their second touchdown drive.

And then there was a interception from Drew Brees.

That was ugly. Really ugly. The Saints offense is kind of strange right now. And that’s putting it nicely: because it’s not what it’s been. Not even close. And sure, part of that is Michael Thomas not being on the field due to injury; and punching a teammate in the head. He’s arguably their best player; lose that and you’re not going to be the same. But, just getting him back doesn’t mean they’ll return to what they’ve always been offensively; namely an explosive unit that keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night. Because they’re no longer that. They still have weapons, but they’re not the high octane unit they used to be. 

Playing the Saints offense used to be one of the scariest things in football, because you knew they were going to test you every possible way. They were going to hit you deep, they were going to gash you on the ground, and you just hoped that you didn’t get run out of their gym and straight humiliated. 

But that’s no. Longer the case. And if you’re on Twitter during the game, you’re seeing two names pop up constantly: Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill. As in, keep feeding one guy and stop feeding the other.

Following the Brees interception, the Chargers were up 17. Being up 17 on the road against a future Hall of Fame quarterback is nothing new for Herbert or the Chargers. They were up 17 last week in Tampa against Tom Brady and then it fell apart in the final 32 minutes.

But last night felt different. It felt like a step forward. Go on the road, in primetime, with a rookie quarterback, and make a statement. The statement being: we’re growing, and the worst is behind us, and we’re going to start finishing games. Right here! Right now! Uhhhhhh, excuse me, my bad!!

Because they’re still not ready for prime time: still not capable of finishing a game.  Because, it fell apart in the final 32 minutes of regulation. The Saints scored before halftime to make it 20-10.

And then the Chargers seemed to decide to nap it out for a while in the second half. They gave up a field goal on the Saints’ second drive of the second half. And then this on the third drive.

 

Now it’s tied at 20 and the feeling on that sideline had to be oh hell no! Here we go again! Uh oh!!! Except maybe, with that young slinger under center, maybe things are different now. 

And then with less than four minutes to go in the fourth, they’ve got a 3rd and ten from their own 36.

They’re staring at a three and out and handing the ball back to the Saints to take the lead.

And then Herbert does this....

 

That was maybe the easiest touchdown Herbert will ever have in his career. I have no idea what the Patrick Robinson of the Saints was doing on that play. I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, that is not smart football. You cannot leave a guy that wide open on third and ten. You can’t leave someone that wide open on any down and any distance.

Initially, I thought Robinson fell down or was injured. That’s the only way a guy gets that open in the NFL, but that wasn’t it. It was just a mental mistake in coverage.

Now the Saints are down 7 with 3:44 on the clock and needing to go 73 yards to tie the game. And sure enough, they do. Because Charger fans, I hate to say it, you knew they would. And they capped it off with this.

That was for everyone on Twitter complaining about Taysom Hill being wedged into the offense too often.

LA gets the ball back. They’ve got 52 seconds to get into field goal range. And I’ll be damned, but the kid does it. And he does with a perfect pass to Mike Williams.

Into double coverage to a spot where only his receiver could get it. And it was one hell of a throw and catch.

Remember when the rap on Herbert coming out was that he was too mellow? He might be too quiet to be an NFL quarterback or some junk like that? Yeah, I don’t think that’s the case. This guy is built for this. In big moments like that, as a rookie, he is stepping right into it and making the right play and giving his team a chance to win.

Now it’s down to the Money Badger for a 50-yard field goal to win the game.

DOINK! That is the sound of Charger fans being stabbed in the heart, again. That had plenty of leg, the Money Badger just wasn’t money. Plenty of leg, not enough accuracy. And of course, couple that with missing the extra point earlier and it’s a nightmare of a game for him.

And at that point Charger fans knew how this was going to go. The Saints were going to go down and kick a field goal in overtime, which they did. And then the Chargers were going to make it as close as they possibly could to winning, without actually winning. Which they did on this play.

That was a huge tackle by Marshon Lattimore. That is one massive dude he just took down with the game on the line. You’d expect Williams to win that battle every single time, but not last night. And I know Charger fans, you weren’t expecting him to win that battle on that play because winning that would mean that you were going to win the game and you don’t win games like this.

And I hate to say it, but you’re right. The last two years, this team has lost 13 games by one score. 13!?! And when I saw the last two years, I’m talking about 16 games last year and five games this year. And they’ve somehow lost 13 of those games by one score. How does that happen? How is that mathematically possible?

They had nine one-score losses last season and you think, it can’t get more devastating and more heartbreaking than that. Oh yes it can, because they’ve lost four straight one score games this year.

Couple that with the trend of awful injuries and the Chargers almost seem like they’re cursed. But I don’t buy into curses. They aren’t cursed.

They are so close to being a good team, even a really good team. They just need to break through. Maybe even just once: maybe you find a way to win and finish just one of these games and everything changes. Maybe. But we’ll never know until they do it; and they haven’t. And the problem is actually getting worse not better...  Good news is, it can all change in a hurry. But only if they learn to finish. And it’s something they better learn stat because it’s getting late in a hurry. And I’m really not sure how much more of this Charger fan can take. 

Inglewood!  Burbank!  Long Beach! Pasadena! Hancock Park! Woodland Hills!! Studio City! Alhambra! Marina Del Rey! Van Nuys! North Hollywood!!! I want to hear from you: how much more of this aggravation can you take! Dan Fouts ain’t walking through that door charger fan, and neither am I.  In fact, I can barely walk at all.  I want to hear from you!  Why can’t they finish!  Is it this bloody pandemic thing? San Diego, do you want your bolts back!!! React to me!  I don’t have much time left on this bleeping planet: sing it! San Diego Super Chargers!!!  Remember the super bowl run, back in…in, whenever the hell that was: best time of my life! The Bolts were good, I was the play by play voice and I got to watch Rome work his magic every day. Sing it!