It's hard enough to beat an opponent in the NFL.
It's nearly impossible when a team makes as many self-inflected mistakes as the Chargers did in their 38-28 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs to open the season.
While giving full credit to the Chiefs for earning the win, Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn emphasized the number of self-inflicted wounds early and often in his postgame press conference.
"A team like that, you can't give them anything," he said. "You have to take everything, and we didn't do that. We gave them too much, and they outplayed us."
"We left too many out there," added Philip Rivers. "It's crazy to say you left too many out there when we had (541) yards on offense. Today, we should have thrown for 600 which is crazy to say. We should have thrown for 600 yards in an NFL game. We just didn't get it done. I had a couple just a hair underthrown. We had a couple we didn't bring down. We had a turnover down in there. That all affected points. The name of the game is points. … You've got to score. You've got to score more than the other team and we didn't get that done today."
Thus, the Bolts were kicking themselves in the locker room, thinking what might have been.
If only they hadn't dropped four passes, most being deep bombs downfield or surefire touchdowns.
If only they hadn't fumbled a punt at their own two-yard line early in the fourth quarter after cutting the Chiefs' lead to 11, allowing the visitors to extend their lead to what proved to be an insurmountable 18 points.
The number of dropped passes were the most obvious miscues as they were uncharacteristic from what we've come to expect from the Chargers.
"We had four passes dropped today," Lynn said. "I think a couple of them might've been touchdowns. Plays that we need to make. Plays that we have to make."
The players felt the exact same way.
"Just a lot of plays that we left out on the field," said Keenan Allen. (We) shot ourselves in the foot. (There was) bad execution. We just have to clean some things up ... (Our drops were) Very uncharacteristic. We just have to clean it up. It happens. We just have to move on."
"We were just not locked in, and maybe they took the eye off the ball," added Melvin Gordon. "I had one where I didn't get my head around fast enough. It's just little details."
The Bolts also lost the turnover battle, failing to force a takeaway while coughing the ball up twice. The first came on a Ron Parker interception midway through the third quarter. The second proved to be a backbreaker as JJ Jones' fumble on a punt return deep in Chargers territory led to a quick Chiefs' TD.
Still, Lynn offered the rookie a vote of confidence after the game.
"JJ has been back there all preseason and has done a heck of a job," he said. "He's a physical runner. He's fast. He's handled the ball extremely well, and today he just made a bad mistake … (JJ) made this team because he can score points. We're looking for guys who can score points. That's pretty important, so just because he made one mistake does not mean we're going to give up on that young man."