The San Diego Chargers pointed to a number of reasons why they fell 26-22 to the Indianapolis Colts. They cited a lack of finishing, struggles on third down and a lack of complementary football.
More than anything, they put the onus on themselves for too many costly mistakes.
Whether it was a key penalty on defense, an off throw by Philip Rivers or a dropped pass, the Chargers said too many self-inflicted miscues was a main reason they fell to 1-2 on the year.
"Nobody is perfect out here," Melvin Gordon said. "It is football (and) you will make mistakes; even the best of them do. We just have to get back in the film room and tighten up. We played pretty sloppy today. I don't think we played Chargers football. This wasn't our best football, but we'll figure it out as a team."
Dropped passes hurt the Bolts from the very first series. Tyrell Williams looked to have a surefire catch on third down but couldn't hold onto the ball. That was the first of a pair of "gimmes" that Rivers said will haunt him after the game. The other was an overthrow to a wide open Dexter McCluster in the end zone midway through the second quarter that forced the Bolts to settle for three instead of six.
"Just some of the layups that we missed (stick with you)," he said. "The one to Dexter, it's a gimme and I threw it as if he was wide open. I wasn't trying to make a perfect throw. I saw him beat (the defender) and I was trying to give it a little air (to) let him run under it. About halfway there I realized he was having to dig for it, but other than that one, the other ones were just a hair off. The first third down to Tyrell, he couldn't see me, I couldn't see him so he didn't react to the ball as fast as he would've. it wasn't a great throw, but I think it is one he would have gotten to had he seen it the whole way."
Those weren't the only offensive mistakes the Chargers lamented. Rivers wasn't able to hit Gordon wide open in the flat on a pass to start the second quarter, and later, didn't connect on an open screen pass. Travis Benjamin couldn't haul in a strike for a first down on 3rd-and-6 late in the fourth quarter. Rookie Hunter Henry also fumbled the ball as the Bolts were looking for a game-winning drive in the final minute.
However, none of those plays was the one Rivers wanted back the most.
The Chargers were up 22-20 with 6:38 left in the game. Williams came through with a pair of clutch first down catches to twice move the chains, but the team faced a 3rd-and-3 with 2:40 remaining. Rivers fired a ball to Benjamin that the wide receiver raised his hands high to catch, but it had too much zip on it for the wideout to haul it in.
"Of all the plays I missed today, I wished I hit the one to Travis on 3rd-and-2 because we were running that thing down," he said. "We may end up with it in our hands at mid-field, and (I) just missed it…They were going to start using timeouts and we were going to get down to the two-minute warning before we punted. It just came out a little high and hot, and he couldn't make the play on it."
"It's just me," Travis Benjamin added "I just have to do all I can to go up, get it and just come down with it. And once we get that first down, the clock keeps moving."
On the other side of the ball, the defense bemoaned their own miscues, particularly penalties. McCoy said the Colts earned far too many first downs due to penalty, including too many on third down.
"There were a number of them during the game, but there were five first downs. It's something we have to obviously eliminate…. There are going to be (flags each game) whether it's a holding or a contact penalty, but to have that many in a game is way too many. We're going to play aggressively, but we have to make sure we don't penalize our team."