One play – the very first play on defense.
That's all it took to put the Chargers behind the eight ball as Alvin Kamara took the Saints' first snap from scrimmage 50 yards to the house for a quick 7-0 lead.
The defense settled in after that, limiting the high-powered New Orleans offense to a pair of field goals the rest of the way. Still, no one will talk about the unit's successes after the opening touchdown proved costly in a 13-7 loss.
While the defense was pleased with how they responded after that first play, it hammered home an important lesson they stressed the entire team must take to heart: No one can afford to take any snap at any moment off. Everyone must play with the same intensity and energy on every single snap otherwise you may see a similar result.
"That one play, if this was a regular season game, it could have decided the game," Joey Bosa said. "But I like how we rallied (after). We didn't blame anyone or point fingers. We talked about it. We didn't freak out, rallied, focused, played together and played hard. That play is a learning experience."
So what happened on the fateful play?
"It's a wide zone concept that we have struggled with a little bit this camp," Head Coach Anthony Lynn said. "Getting reached and cut in the back side. Our Mike linebacker did not get over the top, but he's not the only one on the field to make a play, but that's where the hole came…. The defense played pretty good other than one play."
However, that Mike linebacker, Nick Dzubnar, put the onus on himself despite his teammates saying they all played a role due to poor tackling and miscommunication.
"I take complete responsibility for the first play because that run hit my gap," he said. "I took that first play pretty hard – (I'm) pretty upset about it. All you can do now is watch the film and get better from it, unfortunately. So yeah, I was pretty upset with that first play."
Still, as Bosa mentioned, no one pointed fingers.
Instead, the focus after the game emphasized using that first snap as a learning experience moving forward. It's one they vowed they'd remember months from now.
"There's that saying that every play counts," Jahleel Addae said. "You never know what play might cost you the game. I'm not saying that one cost you the game, but we feel if we didn't come out flat, maybe things would have been different. So we need to change that. We will. After that we rallied. We regrouped. We communicated, played fast and played physical. We swarmed to the ball. That's what it's all about. Coach (Gus) Bradley always talks about that, and that's what we are trying to do. We are still encouraged. We just need to learn from this."
"Philip (Rivers) actually just talked about it again to the whole team how everything matters," Kyle Emanuel added. "Obviously, every single play matters. When you come out flat like we did that first play, you can say that was the difference in the game. We'll learn from it. Luckily it happened to us in a preseason game, and it's something we can learn from, but we can't have that type of mistake that early. No on points fingers, and I heard Nick say he took blame, but that's not how we feel. It was a result of the team. We all need to play better and do more, and it starts on the first play."