Philip Rivers has been a part of 177 regular and postseason games.
Never before has he suffered a defeat like Sunday's 35-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
"It seems like each loss we say, 'I don't know if it can get any tougher than that,'" Rivers said. "Somehow, we found a way to top each one. This one is really unlike any other I can remember in the way it happened."
Up 34-21, the Chargers' defense forced a punt with seven minutes remaining in the game. On the offense's first snap, Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball. Four plays later, Drew Brees hit Michael Thomas to cut it to a six-point game.
On the next offensive snap, Rivers connected to Travis Benjamin, but the wideout fumbled, setting New Orleans up at San Diego's 31-yard line with 4:50 remaining. Seven plays later John Kuhn plunged in for the eventual game-winning one-yard score.
After the game, Rivers fought back tears talking about how crushed he felt for his teammates after those two turnovers.
"You hate it for those two guys. Nobody wants to fumble. Nobody wants to throw an incompletion. Nobody wants to miss a block. That's not looking for sympathy. Nobody's trying to make mistakes. That's why it's a game, and (one) for me that's more valuable than just a game. The lessons that you learn. And sometimes, you don't know why (it happens). Sometimes it's easy to say it's not fair. And I don't mean that personally; just in general. That's why it's a heck of a sport, and one that as grown men we get to play and find out what we're about."
Rivers wasn't alone in that sentiment.
The loss hit a number of players hard, but perhaps none more so than Benjamin and Gordon.
"Sickening," Benjamin said. "Frustrating. Knowing that we had the opportunities and (we) put the ball on the ground two times. I was a part of that. I'm just numb right now."
"Frustrated," Gordon added. "Upset. A game we definitely should have won. Had some major mistakes at the end – two fumbles. (They) killed us…You try not to fumble. That's the goal. Sometimes it's just hard to avoid throughout the season. You can do it but it's tough. Making a fumble and making a costly fumble that could cost you the game are two different types of fumbles. I have to be better in that situation."
Jason Verrett also stood in his locker room after the game searching for answers.
"This one, it's just real tough," he said. "I'm angry and frustrated. We have a good football team, and we put ourselves in the position to make the plays and win. But it isn't happening, so we are asking what the heck is going on?"
Rivers agreed with all those emotions, and shared what he told his teammates after a loss that was tough to swallow.
"I kind of phrased it to somebody in there you try to laugh to keep from crying, literally. It is one of those you kind of throw your hands up and go, 'What in the world just happened?' Again, this will be the time we've got to stay together tight. We all made mistakes, but obviously Travis and those guys are going to take it hard. They've got to move on. It won't be the last time either of them fumble, and it won't be the last time I throw an interception. You just carry on and go."