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Advent Calendar - Dec. 7: A date which shall live in infamy

Nothing like a good ol’ 4th and 30 to soothe the soul

This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December still holds such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that makes it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.

Dec. 07: A date which shall live in infamy

On this Pearl Harbor remembrance day, it is important not to make light of the calamity that Japan unleashed on the US base of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was a world-changing moment not only for the loss of life, but for the reverberating affects of this nation entering WWII. Instead, we will focus on the words spoken by FDR the following day, making the case that Dec. 7 should be a date long remembered for its infamy.

That said, if you’ll humor me just a little, there might be a date a little lighter on infamy, but surely worth remembering for the Chargers faithful: November 25, 2012.

Kirby Lee | US Presswire

The Chargers were not having a great season, and they entered this game at 4-7. The Ravens were having a resurgent season, standing at 9-2. The game would be played at Qualcomm, and the Chargers were underdogs in a losing season. That said, they played hard and long that day. Philip Rivers, while sacked six times that day, did not give up an interception or fumble for just the 3rd time in 11 games.

The Bolts were knocking on fate’s door, up 13-10 in the final 2 minutes of the 4th quarter. The defense was doing its job, and the mighty Ravens were facing inevitable defeat. They were squarely in ‘4-down territory,’ but with 29 long yards between the ball and the 1st down marker, it’s a dubious prospect.

Joe Flacco saw that his first read was no good, and in an instant he dumped the ball off to Ray Rice, seemingly attempting to maintain field position (which, in the best case scenario would leave 10-20 seconds and no time outs for them to work with if they get the ball back).

What followed was the longest 4th down conversion since 2001: a 30-yard weaving scramble that set the Ravens up for a field goal.

What were the odds that this would be successful?

According to ESPN,

Since 2001, four times teams have converted on fourth-and-26 or longer (excluding penalties and fake punt/field goal attempts). However, in that same time period there were only 19 times where a team actually attempted to go for it on fourth-and-26 or longer.

Contrary to popular belief, the odds are not incredibly long to convert a fourth-down attempt of that length; it is more rare that teams actually try to go for it in those situations.

In fact, looking specifically at fourth down and at least 29 yards to go, the predicted conversion rate based on historical data is about 10 percent.

That’s a far cry from the one-in-a-million odds that many nervous Ravens fans were likely thinking when coach John Harbaugh made the critical decision to go for it on fourth down late in the game.


The Ravens would win in overtime with another field goal. This win would also offer the Ravens the AFC North crown over the Bengals, who ended up with the same record. Of course, the Ravens would continue to run the board in the postseason and even win a SuperBowl trophy over the 49ers.

The Chargers would play fairly well in December, but their terrible October/November record (1-6) would doom the team. The funny thing is, with this win, the Chargers would have at least had an 8-8 season. Their wins over the Bengals and the Steelers the following two weeks really complicated the AFC North, a scenario currently playing out this year as well: The Steelers are wary of the Ravens on account of the Chargers’ improbable win over Pittsburgh.

The real result of November 25, 2012 was that the curse of “the Chargers are gonna’ Charger” was solidified for all to see.

I’m sorry, did you open this Advent Calendar expecting happy emotions and good times? You probably did. So here’s a little trinket to improve the whole deal: The longest verified 4th down distance since 1998 (and possibly longer, but records are tough to find):

Hahaha, the Raiders. On 10/13/2013, they didn’t try it- they punted. And that punt didn’t even make it to the 1st down marker. Good times!

-Jason “Sorry about the emotions” Michaels