As if the blackout wasn’t bad enough for the San Diego Chargers, their numerous mistakes at critical junctures in the contest certainly put a cherry on top of that lackluster Sunday (see what I did there?). This team has been renowned for its ability to make even the most routine of tasks seem arduous over the past handful of seasons, and 2013 hasn’t seem much of a change in this regard.
Head coach Mike McCoy told the team website:
“Against a good football team like the Bengals, we made too many mistakes. We had three turnovers offensively. It’s been a long time since we turned the ball over that way. It’s unacceptable.”
Let’s start right there with the laundry list of miscues the Bolts made against the Cincinnati Bengals as the game really began with one of the most costly errors. Tight end Antonio Gates’ fumble in the red zone turned the ball over on a promising opening drive where the Chargers were poised to come away with points. Then the second half began with a decent stand from the San Diego defense only to be backed up by yet another turnover on the brink of the red zone when Philip Rivers threw an ill-advised pass intended for Gates. Dre Kirkpatrick picked it off, and the Bengals proceeded to march down the field on the ensuing drive for a touchdown.
The final turnover gets a bit of a pass even though it set the Bengals up in San Diego territory because the Bolts quickly forced a fumble the other way to regain possession on the following drive. Regardless of what actually happened following these errors, McCoy is correct in saying this team has to clean these issues up before they can grow into a consistent winner. This continual shooting yourself in the foot will put you on crutches and eventually into a wheelchair when you no longer have a leg to stand on.
It’s hard to explain the phenomenon that is the Chargers’ propensity for folding under pressure, but it’s what has earned them the underachiever label for the better part of the past decade. When the stakes get higher this team just seems to come up empty in critical situations where execution would seem to be second nature. With four home games in five weeks beginning with this contest against the Bengals fresh off a momentum building win over the Kansas City Chiefs, things seemed to be lining up for the Bolts to make a serious playoff push.
So much for that.
Trying to spin this loss in any other way than a missed opportunity to vault themselves into the talk of serious playoff contenders would be misleading. These Bolts continue to be the same team they were under Norv Turner now under the watch of Mike McCoy, and the trend is seriously disturbing. It becomes even more worrisome when you see fans starting to label the successor to a notorious underachiever in Turner “McNorv” in jest.
Or maybe the only joke in this instance is the Chargers themselves.