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Too Many Mistakes Doom Bolts
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The San Diego Chargers don’t need to look far to find out why they fell to the Miami Dolphins 20-16 on Sunday.
The team played it’s sloppiest game of the season, committing far too many penalties, missed tackles, red zone failures and mental errors to win the game. In the end,
“Too many mistakes from the football team today from start to finish to beat a team in the NFL here,” Head Coach Mike McCoy began his postgame press conference by saying. “Defensively, we were off to a poor start tackling and jumping offsides a number of times early in the game. Offensively, a turnover to start. Really overall we hurt ourselves way too much, one time after another. We couldn’t get going there. We talked about cleaning some things up at halftime, and those mistakes we talked about at halftime on that first drive we made the exact same mistakes we tried to clean up.”
Regarding the penalties, the Chargers committed 10 for 76 yards, which is uncharacteristic of a team that has committed few penalties all year. In fact, the Chargers defense was one of the least penalized teams in the NFL coming into Sunday, but that didn’t show on the field. Four times the team jumped offsides. While he did have a sack in the game, the chief culprit of that was Thomas Keiser, who jumped over the line too quick on three occasions. He took full responsibility for the error, saying that although it’s a fine line you have to walk in order to get a good jump, there is no room for those types of mistakes.
“He has a bizarre cadence, but as a player, you have to take responsibility for being offsides because the ball is your key,” he said. “We definitely screwed that up. It’s inexcusable. It’s a very fine line. You have to be disciplined in what you see. I’ll be honest, there were times I saw somebody’s hand flashing or moving, but in the end, if you get called for being offsides that’s on you.”
Perhaps the biggest penalty of the game was a roughing the passer call against Corey Liuget. The Dolphins were at the goal line when the Bolts forced a turnover, which could have been a turning point in the game. Instead, Miami retained possession as Liuget was flagged for hitting Ryan Tannehill too late. Two plays later the Dolphins took a 10-7 lead.
“It was a very costly penalty for us as a team and that’s one play I wish I could get back,” Liuget said. “After I saw the flag I realized what had happened. Once it happened the ball was already gone. When I saw him on the ground I tried to help him up and the flags were coming. After this play you feel even worse after the game. Not a great feeling at all.”
In addition to the penalties, there were far too many missed tackles by the defense. They were never more apparent than on Charles Clay's 39-yard touchdown. The Dolphins tight end broke through at least three would-be tackles on his way to the end zone, indicative of the Bolts struggles on the day. Afterward, Eric Weddle said the team’s poor tackling performance was unacceptable.
“We need to tackle better,” he said bluntly. “Even if you’re a smaller guy, take his legs and then he cannot really run….It’s frustrating. Why does it happen sometimes? You don’t really know. Our guys are just trying our hardest. Those guys are good players. When you don’t take the feet, you don’t take their legs and you don’t wrap up, those guys are big and they’ll keep running. I’ll just keep telling the guys to do those things. We all have to rally to the ball.”
The mistakes were definitely not limited to just the defense as the offense had their fair share of them as well. Whether it was surrendering an untimely sack, slipping on a play or committing an inexcusable penalty like taunting, the Chargers offense shot themselves in the foot. According to Philip Rivers, the team is simply not good enough at this point to overcome those types of errors.
“It is a lot,” he said. “We’re not playing well enough to overcome those things right now. There are teams, and we’ve been on teams here in the past, where we can overcome some of those penalties. Right now we can’t overcome a penalty, we can’t overcome slipping, and I’m not blaming him, but we just can’t overcome some of those little things that you just think you’ll get next series. Right now we’re not playing well enough to where we can just be a play off here or there. We’ve got to play really well all of the time and obviously we’re not doing that.”
Antonio Gates wholeheartedly reiterated what Rivers said in believing the team’s margin for error is far too thin to be making those mistakes.
“Based on where we stand now at 4-6, I do (believe it is too thin),” he said. “Despite what we believe, we’re a 4-6 team. When I think of every game we lost this season, we made errors and we weren’t good enough to overcome them. So now we understand as a team that we’re not the caliber of a team that can make these kind of mistakes and overcome them. It’s just too tough to overcome them.”