In a game that saw the defense set the pace for three-quarters of the game, the San Diego Chargers offense wasn't able to reward their teammates for their stellar play.
What's worse is Sunday night's 23-14 loss to the visiting New England Patriots will go down as another opportunity down the drain. Not only did they drop a spot in the wild card standings and give the other wildcard contenders renewed hope, but they most likely blew any shot (albeit small) at overtaking the Denver Broncos for the AFC West title.
The offense that we have come to expect from the San Diego Chargers just wasn't there on Sunday. Credit the Bill Belichick New England Defense for some of that. But blame the whole Charger offense for most of it. Whether it was a porous offensive line letting QB Philip Rivers get sacked, or the receivers not getting enough separation from the Patriots secondary, it was a forgettable performance from the team's most consistent unit.
"I didn't play very well," Rivers said after the game. "We didn't play very well. They [New England] were the reason for a lot of that, but we had some things that were self-inflicted as well. It wasn't our best day. Obviously, anytime you score seven points in this league you're not going to win many games."
Like Rivers said, San Diego only managed to score 7 points and they only gained a paltry 216 total yards of offense. Couple that with constant Patriots pressure in the face of Rivers, leading to 4 sacks, and it was a recipe that had the quarterback getting in the faces of his offensive lineman on multiple occasions.
"Early, we just didn't make those adjustments that we needed to," Rivers said. "[It was] a misunderstanding in a couple of those protections, but those are things that can happen. But those are a couple of many reasons why we lost, why we weren't very good on offense. Those aren't the reasons. They just outplayed us."
Head Coach Mike McCoy wasn't as forgiving.
"I think we should have pass-protected better, but I'll look at the film and see exactly why and what happened," McCoy said. "I like perfect protection to be perfect every play to be honest."
When Rivers did have time to throw, he didn't have anyone to throw to.
A week after setting a franchise record for having 4 wide receivers have at least 80 yards receiving, not one of them came within 26 yards of that. Malcolm Floyd led the way with 3 catches for 54 yards and a TD, but key contributors Antonio Gates, Kennan Allen and Eddie Royal only accounted for 9 receptions for 67 yards. Allen, coming off a career game last week, was only good for 2 catches for 3 yards.
"That's one of the best defensive back groups in the league, in my opinion," WR Eddie Royal said. "Those guys get in your face. They play tight coverage. Every ball is going to be contested. I don't know what it was. We just have to look at the tape and get better."
Despite the horrendous offensive performance, the Chargers defense did what it could to give the offense a chance to get something going. After going into halftime with a 14-13 lead, the San Diego ‘D' forced the Patriot offense to four 3-and-outs to start the second half. In the end, the defense couldn't hold the damn forever as New England dealt a finishing blow on a Tom Brady to Julien Edelman 69-yard touchdown pass.
"By no means is it one side or the other," S Eric Weddle said. "We just didn't get it done as a group. We didn't play good enough as a whole on defense through the whole four quarters. We got some stops in the third quarter but the big play killed us on the little angle rout for a touchdown. Those are backbreakers. If we just make that tackle somehow we give ourselves a chance."
Sadly, with an offense that couldn't do anything when it had the ball, it probably wouldn't have matter.