After the Chargers scored to go up 7-3, I tweeted the following:
They are a lot better than the Dolphins. They’ll have to give this one away to lose.— Richard Wade (@RichardWade) November 17, 2013
As we all know now, and as most of us knew then, the Chargers were more than up to the task of giving the game away. Miami is a mediocre football team. They don't do anything at even a league average level. That didn't stop them from driving 73 yards on six plays to set up a 2nd & 1 from the Chargers' 7 yard line because the Chargers have the worst defense in football.
On the very next play, however, Eric Weddle forced a fumble to stop the Dolphins from scoring and gave the ball back to the second best offense in football. Unfortunately, Corey Liuget made one of the most colossally stupid plays you'll see all year when he took several extra steps after Ryan Tannehill released the ball and drove him into the ground. This roughing the passer penalty erased Weddle's game-changing takeaway and was the beginning of the Chargers giving the game away despite being the more talented squad. Miami scored two plays later.
The teams traded punts from their own territory before the Chargers drove back into the red zone only to stall out and kick a field goal from the 9 yard line. This team loves kicking field goals from inside the opposing 10 yard line. Luckily, they didn't leave enough time for a bad Miami team to drive the length of the field before half time.
The Chargers' first drive of the second half showed that they could still move the ball on a less than stellar Miami defense. However, it also showed that the Chargers just can't help themselves. At midfield, Jeromey Clary was called for a crippling holding call on 1st and 10. They immediately got that yardage back on a nice catch by Allen, but he immediately put the offense in an even bigger hole by getting flagged for taunting.
That wasn't the worst part, though. The worst part was what came next. I yelled at my television at this point, "please don't run a give-up run up the middle!" What did they do? They ran a give-up run up the middle for three yards.
The Chargers have an explosive offense capable of eating up big chunks of field on every play. Despite this fact, Ken Whisenhunt regularly gives away downs in 2nd and long situations and McCoy refuses to attempt 4th downs. The key to getting the most out of a good offense is to run as many offensive plays as possible. And yet, this coaching staff continues to limit Rivers' opportunities to score and by extension win games. It's anyone's guess why they do this.
After punting the ball back to the Dolphins on 4th & 8 from inside Dolphins territory, the defense predictably got eaten up by the lowly Tannehill and company. What wasn't quite as predictable (but was by no means surprising) was how the drive ended. Manti Te'o failed to cover Charles Clay who then broke multiple tackles on his way to 39 yard touchdown. This play told you everything you need to know about the Chargers defense. Players were out of position as they are on most plays and a combination of poor technique and low effort allowed a player that breaks relatively few tackles to break several on one play.
The Chargers, of course, marched down the field rather quickly, but stalled on 3rd & 7 from Miami's 32 where they forced the ball downfield because they had to get it all on one play because McCoy doesn't understand (or doesn't care about) simple probability. This resulted in a field goal. This was incredibly familiar to Chargers fans who get to watch their favorite team trade field goals for touchdowns every Sunday.
The Dolphins offense predictably sputtered and gave the ball back. The Chargers even more predictably drove right down the field before stalling and kicking a field goal despite having a makeable 4th down inside the opposition's 10 yard line. This happens constantly.
Finally, with 4:07 to go in the game and down 4 points, McCoy called for a punt on 4th & 12 inside Miami territory. Predictably, by the time the Chargers got the ball back, they needed to drive 83 yards with under two minutes and only one timeout (and they only had that because of a stupid play by Tannehill).
Even more upsetting for Chargers fans was the manner in which this final drive was conducted. They clocked the ball when they could have run a play, but then refused to clock the ball when they did not have a play ready to run. They gave away any chance they had of winning a game they tried to give away at every turn.
The San Diego Chargers are not an immensely talented team, but they are getting as little out of that talent as possible each and every week.