This week, instead of doing 5 Bad Stats from the Ravens game, I did 5 Bad Plays (and it wasn't easy finding 5 of them). This got me to thinking....the Chargers haven't really been blown out all year. They'd probably be leading the AFC West if they could take back 5 plays from the season. This brought me here, where I will try and find the 5 plays most responsible for San Diego potentially watching the playoffs from home.
Philip Rivers' Halloween Nightmare
This one stings the most. San Diego had put themselves in position to win a tied game. All they had to do was burn the clock, center the ball, and let Nick Novak (who had been brilliant up to that point) kick a game winning chip-shot field goal. Instead, Rivers fumbled a snap before being able to hand the ball off and the Chiefs jumped on top of it. In overtime, Kansas City went on to kick a game-winning FG of their own. This wasn't just a loss, it was a win against a divisional opponent that was lost due to mistakes.
Plaxico Burress Takes Antoine Cason's Lunch Money
Okay, this one was 3 plays, but they were essentially the same play over and over. Jets drive down the field to get into the red zone, match Burress on Cason, Touchdown. This formula worked so well that the Jets beat the Chargers by 6, despite being down by 11 at halftime.
Nick Novak Succumbs to Tebow Time
With a 3 point leadin the 4th Quarter against the Broncos (again, a divisional game), Ryan Mathews broke off a 39 yard run that was the key to getting San Diego down to the Denver 30 yard line. Nick Novak set up for a 48 yard field goal that would've all but iced the game, and missed it. Tim Tebow responded by driving his team down the field to where Matt Prater could kick a 24 yard field goal good.
Overtime was much the same story. Chargers get in FG range, just barely, and Novak misses a 53 yard field goal. Broncos get in better FG range and Prater makes a 37 yard field goal for the win.
Wasting Good Fortune Against the Bears
Here's the situation: The Chargers' offensive line is in shambles against a good Bears defense, but that hasn't kept them from keeping up with Chicago. San Diego is down by 11 after a Ryan Mathews' fumble was turned into a touchdown by Jay Cutler, but now Cutler is throwing an interception when his receiver slips. Running after Antoine Cason, who seemingly had no interest in trying to run it back for a touchdown, Cutler breaks his thumb. If the Chargers score a TD off the interception, they're down by 4 (or 3, if they had converted a 2-point conversion) with an entire 4th quarter left to play against either Jay Cutler's broken thumb or Caleb Hannie.
Those are the types of opportunities that good teams take advantage of, that the Chargers would take advantage of in December. Instead, from the Bears' 16, Rivers threw two incompletions before throwing an ugly interception. The Bears obviously knew that they couldn't throw the ball, running on 9 out of their 12 offensive plays and only throwing on 3rd and 4th downs. Even when that play ended with an incomplete pass by the Bears' Punter, Rivers started up the next drive by "throwing the ball away" right into the stomach of a defender for another interception.
Handing the Super Bowl Champions the Game
The Green Bay Packers are still a very good team. They create turnovers and their offense is probably the best in the entire NFL. The Chargers looked good against them, though. Good enough to win, which nobody but the Kansas City Chiefs have done against Green Bay this season. Unfortunately, they had to trip over their own feet along the way.
With the game tied at 7-7 and looking like it would be an epic shootout, Philip Rivers took out his pistol and aimed it at his own head. On 3rd and 7, he threw an interception to Charlie Peprah (who was apparently covered in spiders, which is the only explanation as to why nobody tackled him) that was returned for a touchdown. Five plays later, this time on 3rd and 4, Rivers threw another pick into the hands of Tramon Williams that was also returned for 7 points for the Packers. Peprah eventually intercepted Philip Rivers at the end of the game as well, with the Packers holding into a 7 point less and the Chargers driving, to make sure that everyone knew that Rivers' mistakes were the biggest reason why San Diego couldn't knock off the undefeated Packers.