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Chargers-Jaguars Recap: Bolts implode, give up 27-0 lead en route to 31-30 loss to Jacksonville

You can’t write it any worse than this.

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers did everything they needed to do to coast to a victory on Saturday night. They essentially flipped the script on the Jaguars from their Week 3 matchup, putting the pedal to the floor and not letting up until they built a four-score lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.

But this IS the Chargers we’re talking about. No matter how much the culture seemed to change during the team’s resurgent end to the regular season, no matter how on top the things the coaching staff seemed to be in regards to game plans and personnel decisions, the same old problems came back to bite them in their first playoff appearance.

The Bolts built a 27-point lead with a little under five minutes remaining in the first half. From then on, they were outscored 31-3 by the Jaguars, culminating in a walk-off field goal to send them home on what should be the quietest flight in recent memory.

For a complete quarter-by-quarter recap of tonight’s game, check it all out below.

First Quarter

The Chargers won the toss and deferred.

On the second play of the game, Sebastian Joseph-Day tipped a pass from Trevor Lawrence that fell into the arms of Drue Tranquill who returned it to the jaguars 18-yard line. After a short pass to Donald Parham, Austin Ekeler took it in for the game’s first touchdown with his 14th rushing touchdown on the season.

Less than 90 seconds into the game, the Chargers lead 7-0.

The Jaguars got a drive going on their second possession with a nine-play sequence that once again ended up in an interception by Lawrence. This time, it was Asante Samuel Jr. who returned it to the Chargers’ 39-yard line.

The Bolts got all the way to the Jaguars’ four-yard line facing second-and-goal. Jaguars defensive lineman Arden Key’s helmet got in the way of what looked like a sure touchdown to Keenan Allen and an incomplete pass on third down forced a Cameron Dicker field goal.

With 5:30 remaining in the opening period, the Chargers led the Jaguars 10-0.

Both teams traded three-and-outs on their next drives with the Chargers’ third down failing on a second pass batted at the line by the Jaguars defensive line. On the Jaguars fourth drive of the game, Lawrence threw his third interception of the game, his second to Samuel, deep inside Jaguars territory. Several plays later, Ekeler punched it in from six yards out to push the Chargers’ lead to 17-0.

Second Quarter

On the other side of the break, Kenneth Murray and Sebastian Joseph-Day got into the back field for a sack on Lawrence to put an end to the short drive.

The Chargers offense would march right down on the Jaguars defense en route to Herbert throwing a touchdown pass to Gerald Everett which pushed the Bolts’ lead to a very strong 24 points.

In the most remarkable fashion, Samuel was on the receiving end of his THIRD interception from Lawrence, becoming just the second player in NFL history to record three or more picks in a playoff game.

The Chargers couldn’t do much on the other side as they were forced to punt it away after the sudden-change situation. But just like the rest of the night with the ball bouncing the way of the Chargers over and over, it happened once again as JK Scott’s punt deflected off a Jaguars helmet and was recovered by linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga.

The Bolts moved the ball just a yard from there with Herbert missing a wide open Allen in the back of the end zone on third down. Dicker’s second field goal of the night pushed their lead to 27-0.

After trading punts, the Jaguars got to start a drive at the Chargers 47-yard line with under two minutes to go in the half. Lawrence converted on a fourth-and-one at the 26-yard line before finding tight end Evan Engram from nine yards out two plays later for the Jaguars’ first touchdown of the night.

Both teams headed into the locker room with the score at 27-7 in favor of the Chargers.

Third Quarter

The Chargers received the opening kickoff of the second half but couldn’t come away with any amount of points. They made it all the way down to the Jaguars 38-yard line but three straight incompletions led to another Scott punt.

The Jaguars continued their groove from the end of the first half, constructing a 14-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that took seven minutes and 17 seconds off the clock. The score minimized the Chargers’ lead to 13 points with 5:11 remaining in the quarter.

Everett played another key role on the Chargers’ next drive, catching a pair of passes for 46 yards en route to a third Dicker field goal, this one from 50 yards out. The rookie’s first conversion from 50 or more yards pushed the Bolts’ lead back to 16.

It took the Jaguars just five plays on their next drive to find the end zone off a blown coverage by the Chargers that ended in a 39-yard touchdown to a wide open Marvin Jones. The offense attempt to make it an eight-point game with a two-point try but Samuel broke up the pass to keep it a 10-point deficit.

On that two-point try, Bosa decided to argue a non-call on a perceived hold and it wound up biting him in the back as he was hit with a 15-yard penalty that would back the Chargers up after the ensuing kickoff.

The Bolts ran the ball once for no gain as time expired in the period.

Fourth Quarter

The Chargers took just under seven minutes on the drive by going 58 yards in 14 plays. On a third-and-three, Herbert rolled right and through a pass over the head of Josh Palmer in the end zone. Ekeler was called for a hold but the Jaguars declined to bring up fourth down but Dicker had a rare, rare miss from 40 yards out and the Jaguars still trailed by 10 with 8:47 to go in regulation.

The incredible collapse continued with the Chargers defense once again failing to get a stop. Lawrence found Christian Kirk from nine yards out and a quarterback keeper aided by a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Bosa minimized the Chargers’ lead to two points with 5:25 remaining.

Another three-and-out by the Chargers opened the gate for a final push by the Jaguars. On a fourth-and-one on the Chagrers’ 41-yard line 1:27 remaining, Travis Etienne took a handoff and veered around the right end for a 25-yard gain. The Jaguars ran out the clock before hitting a walk-off field goal to send the Chargers home