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Mistakes Prove Costly in Loss to Titans
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“It was a bit like the Brady Bunch out there,” Eric Weddle said.
Offensively, on the team’s final possession, they had only two of their projected starting five offensive linemen on the field. And between those two, Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary, only Hardwick was playing his expected position.
“All of a sudden you go from being healthy with the group you saw what it was going to be all in training camp, who was going to be the five guys, then you look up and before you know it there are only a couple of them that are out there,” said Philip Rivers.
It would be easy to point the finger at having to plug so many holes as a reason why the Chargers dropped their second heartbreaking decision of the season, a 20-17 last second loss to the Tennessee Titans. But the Bolts weren’t buying any of that.
“We’ve got a good football team here and that’s why you’ve got 53 on the roster,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “I think the players who had an opportunity to step in today did a nice job. They really did. They came in on short notice because of what happened during the week. That’s all part of the game. (We) had every opportunity to win the football game with the guys that were playing. We just didn’t get it done at the end.”
The players did not hesitate to agree with their head coach.
“Our mentality is always the next man up,” said Derek Cox. “If somebody goes down, somebody has to step in. So throughout the week we’re preparing everyone to step in and make a play. So there are no fingers to be pointed.”
Instead, it was too many mistakes that shot the Chargers in the foot as the Titans ended up making one more play than San Diego did. As a result, the Bolts fell to 1-2 to start the season.
“In a football game like this, (we had) too many mistakes at critical times during the game,” McCoy said. “It comes down to the end of the game where we’ve got to make a play, and they made one more play than we did. So give them the credit where it’s deserved. We put them in a situation, and we didn’t finish the game. So we’ve got to improve there…Little mistakes killed us in this game today. (We had) a number of them. We’ll go home and analyze the film, look at it and correct it as soon as we can.”
Offensively, the first of those mistakes came in the first quarter with the Chargers in a 3rd-and-1 around the Tennessee 39-yard line. While they have been so good up to this point converting in those situations, they failed to do so and were forced to punt. Later in the first half, San Diego had 1st-and-goal at the five yard line. It appeared that Eddie Royal scored a touchdown, but Keenan Allen was called for pass interference. In arguing the call, Philip Rivers was given a 15-yard unsportsman like conduct penalty. In a matter of seconds the Bolts went from having a 14-3 lead to first and goal from the 30-yard line. Then when trying to run out the clock, a holding call on Rich Ohrnberger negated a 3rd-and-managable situation into a 2nd-and-long.
“There were just little things,” said Rivers. “We played good for the most part. We had a 3rd-and-1 when we were up 7-0 (and) we could have taken a 14-0 or 10-0 lead. Then we had that one down in the 1st-and-goal at the five and we had the touchdown taken off the board there. We got it going, we just didn’t finish a couple of those drives. And I thought there at the end, if we don’t get the holding penalty, we’re in a 3rd-and-3, 3rd-and-4, which is realistic to go get it and finish the game. It became 3rd-and-10."
Defensively, the Chargers allowed Jake Locker to make plays with his legs, picking up first downs and chunks of yards on broken plays. The Titans converted 6-of-14 third downs as well as one fourth-down conversion, and many of those plays were in long to-go situations. On the final drive of the game, Marcus Gilchrist appeared to have an interception before the ball was knocked out of his grasp. Then, on the final play, Crezdon Butler was beat by Justin Hunter for a 34-yard touchdown. Special teams also had a critical mistake, as Nick Novak’s 38-yard field goal attempt to end the first half was blocked. Despite all that, Weddle says the team as a whole will use this experience to grow, starting next week against the Cowboys.
“We’ve been through it already against Houston, and we rebounded,” he said. “Obviously Dallas is as talented a team as they come, so there’s no feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to correct it, look at the film and see what could have been done better. There were some things out there where when you get a team on the ropes you’ve got to take advantage of it. Convert third downs and get off the field on 3rd-and-10. So there’s stuff that we can improve on. We fought. It showed good character in us that we fought until the end. We’ve just got to make the plays when they come our way.” Read