Before that game, the largest margin in a blowout loss was 41-0, which has actually happened twice. The most recent of which came against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 21 all the way back in 1973. The offense turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions from then-rookie quarterback Dan Fouts.
From the first whistle until the last, this latest Chargers “blunder” — which is a word I use despite it not being nearly the right word to describe their latest contest — was laden with more underwhelming game plans and the most-horrendous special teams play that the league has ever seen.
This isn’t going to be a normal game recap because what’s the point? I don’t think you all want me to sit here and painfully recap how the Patriots shutout the Chargers in what will go down as one of the worst games the team has ever exposed the fan base to.
For the sake of context, here’s a quick-and-dirt of how the Pats put up 45 points on the Bolts:
- On the opening drive of the game, Cam Newton took a snap under center at the one-yard line and reached over the goal line for an easy score. Taking out the QB Sneak, the Pats were averaging roughly eight yards per carry.
- Just a minute into the second quarter, Gunner Olszewski, a former undrafted free agent, returned a punt for 70 yards to increase their lead to 14-0.
- With 51 seconds remaining in the first half, Cam Newton scored his second touchdown on the ground before doing a “euro step” celebration where he ricocheted the ball off a camera in the front row.
- Just before the half was over, the Chargers marched down the field and spiked the ball at the 41-yard line. With nothing to lose, they trotted Michael Badgley out to attempt a 58-yard field goal, just one yard shy of his career long. The kick was blocked, picked up by the Patriots, and returned 44 yards for another special teams touchdown to bring the lead to 28-0 at the midway point.
- In the third, Newton completed just his fifth touchdown pass of the season to second-year wideout N’Keal Harry.
- After adding a field goal early in the fourth, the Patriots rubbed some salt in the wound as backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Olszewski to finalize the score at 45-0.
Once again, like a broken record, the Chargers were haunted by their constant mistakes on special teams. Besides the missed kick, the blocked kick returned for a score, and the punt return touchdown, the Chargers also allowed another punt return of 61 yards and registered multiple penalties on punt coverages, including having 12 men on the field.
In fact, here’s a fun fact for all of you: the Patriots punted five times on Sunday. On three of those plays, the Chargers trotted 12 men on one and left a man off the field the other two times, giving them 10.
How on God’s green earth does that happen once? Never mind three separate times? This is the sort of thing you’d expect while watching a Pop Warner team, not an actual living, breathing team in the National Football League.
Don’t get anything twisted. Anthony Lynn’s seat is as hot as it’s ever been this season. Everything that’s come before now — the clock management mistakes, the continued trust in players consistently underwhelming — it’s all being weighed on the same scale that now includes the WORST LOSS in Chargers franchise history.
Of all the historically bad things Lynn has been a part of, this may finally be the one that he can’t possibly top. Yet somehow, he remains the head coach of the Chargers and that likely means ownership does not want to fire him during the season because why else would you not have followed suit just like the Falcons, Jaguars, and Texans have. So as crazy as that sounds, the fan base will have to wait another month before anything actually happens within the coaching staff.
One of the most egregious errors on Lynn’s behalf in this game might have been the decision to leave Justin Herbert in to play the entire game down five, six, and then seven scores. The offensive line was playing some horrendous football and there was a serious chance your quarterback could have wound up injured.
In his postgame press conference, Lynn said Herbert wanted to stay in the game and finish the effort with his teammates. He also mentioned that it’s important for a young quarterback to learn how to stick it out when things get tough and work towards turning the bad situation around. However, things got a little confusing when Herbert took the stand post game.
When Herbert was asked about what Lynn said regarding him wanting to stay in the game, he said that he didn’t recall having any sort of conversation on the topic.
Herbert said he cannot remember any specific conversation with Lynn. https://t.co/VlejtBPlPN— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) December 7, 2020
So here we are. The head coach tells us his rookie quarterback wanted to stay in the game while the player in question claimed the moment never happened.
What. The heck. Is going on?
The Bolts are now 3-9 with four games remaining. They must win three of those to improve on their 5-11 mark in 2019 but that’s easier said than done when they have three matchups left with AFC West opponents.
The 4-8 Falcons are up next as the Chargers get to stay home for another week.
Could this game be anywhere near as bad? Does it possibly have the power to force ownership to make an immediate change, or are we all just stuck waiting four months while the team jockeys for better draft position?
We all deserve a drink. See you all tomorrow.