In any competition, there’s a winner and a loser. Not every win is epic and not every loss is a collapse, but as a Los Angeles Chargers fan, big games have consistently become epic collapses. It’s a tale as old as time. The Chargers build a team that looks like a contender, make the playoffs (or sometimes don’t in dramatic fashion) and give the fan base hope that things are different this time. Saturday night was no exception.
Starting the game on a 27-point run, going +5 in turnovers all before halftime, would be enough for any fan base to watch the second half stress-free. With :24 left in the second quarter, Evan Engram of the Jacksonville Jaguars, caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence and ghosts of Chargers past began to emerge. Personally, I can’t attest to what was running through the players minds as their once dominating performance was now slipping away as the Jaguars outscore the Chargers 21-3 heading into a final possession with 3:09 left. But as a lifelong Chargers fan, I felt like I’ve seen this movie before.
It’s one of those movies that you enjoy watching because it has your favorite actors in them, but as the story plays out, you can predict every moment. You tell the person next to you in the theater what is going to happen next, and they look back at you with amazement once it does. Chargers games are like that time and time again. With 0:00 left on the clock, Riley Patterson’s 36- yard field goal sails just inside the right upright. Chargers fans were once again left with a sick feeling in their gut.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 15, 2023
Twitter was alive during the second half and erupted after the game. Calls for change in Los Angeles, ridicule of head coach, Brandon Staley, were loud and clear. Changes are likely to be made, as outlined by TWSN’s Aidan Maher:
As with any devastating team loss, it’s best to get a clear mind before making big decisions. Coach Staley appeared to be on the hot seat heading into the game after choosing to play his starters in a meaningless Week 18 matchup with the Denver Broncos. That loss to the Broncos ultimately led to the injury of wide receiver Mike Williams. A change at head coach after Williams’ injury in Week 18 and the colossal collapse Saturday night could be enough to move on from Staley, but time will tell. Whoever is head coach of the Chargers next season has a culture change to accomplish. “Chargering” has to be overcome. How can a fan base continue to come back for more when it’s this consistently a problem? Are we bludgeons for pain? Charger fans always manage to clear their minds after the latest episode of “Chargers being Chargers” and rally behind their team, but when it’s season finale time…why do we watch? Show me a fan base that has endured this:
-Divisional Round 2006-2007: 14-2 Chargers team loses to the New
England Patriots in what is known as “The Marlon McCree Game”
-Week Two, 2008: Ed Hochuli whistles the play dead too early. Jay Cutler fumbled the ball, the Chargers recovered, but the early whistle made it an incomplete pass. The Chargers’ seven-point lead with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter ends up in a 39-38 loss.
-Divisional Round 2010: Chargers kicker, Nate Kaeding, misses three field goals. Kaeding led the league in field goals made with 32, and three misses.
-Week Eight, 2011: Setting up for the game winning field goal attempt to take the sole lead in the AFC West, Philip Rivers fumbles the snap on a kneel-down with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter. The Kansas City Chiefs recover and win on Monday Night Football.
-Week Six, 2012: The Chargers blow a 24-0 halftime lead on Monday Night Football and lose to the Broncos, giving up 35 second half points.
-Week 12 2012: The Chargers lead the Baltimore Ravens by three with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter. The Ravens convert a fourth-and-29 from their own 37-yard line. The Chargers would lose in overtime.
-Week One, 2013: Chargers once again blow it on Monday Night Football after jumping out to a 28-7 lead over the Houston Texans. With 10:46 remaining in the third quarter, the Texans would score 24 unanswered points to beat the Chargers.
-Week One, 2016: Chargers lead the Chiefs, in Kansas City, 24-3 midway through the third quarter. The Chiefs overcame the deficit in 18 minutes, winning in overtime.
-Week 18 2022: Chargers need a win or tie with the Las Vegas Raiders to put Justin Herbert into the playoffs for the first time in his career. The Raiders win with a tie breaking field goal with no time left on the clock in overtime.
I would like to point out that this is a small sampling size of what “Chargering” looks like. There could be a five part 30 for 30 series created on it, and it still may not be enough. It was so improbable that FIVETHIRTYEIGHT calculated that, from the beginning of 2015 through the Chargers Week Five loss to the Raiders, the Chargers lost more win probability per game in the fourth quarter and overtime than any other two-year window for any team in the Super Bowl era. The odds of losing ALL of the games they did in that stretch? 1 in 30 million (The Wall Street Journal).
You might look at those heartbreaking losses above and think, “yeah, my team loses heartbreakers too.” Although true, has your team ever fielded one of the greatest teams EVER, and they didn’t make the playoffs? Enter the 2010 San Diego Chargers, broken down by Jon and Alex on Dork Town:
The offseason is a long one, especially coming off an epic collapse. Many changes will be made to this team, possibly as early as Monday morning. One thing is for sure, the Chargers will Charger, and I’ll be there, with millions like me, excited to watch it all over again.