In the midst of what looked worse than a multi-vehicle wreck, the San Diego Chargers still emerged from Sunday’s 27-3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in first place in the AFC West.
Whether you were in attendance or somehow worked your way around the NFL’s blackout ruling for Southern California, those who watched this spectacle advertised as a match up of two unbeaten teams from their respective conferences, well, they probably left shaking their heads.
Atlanta (3-0) came into the contest sporting the league’s top QB in Matt Ryan (entered the game with top passer-rating), took care of business, and left a mess in its wake.
San Diego (2-1) entered the game looking to prove that it was a formidable opponent, turning a deaf ear to the naysayers that noted the team’s first two wins (Oakland, Tennessee) were against opponents sporting a combined 0-4 record.
Well, while the Chargers probably added some more naysayers to the list, the great thing about the NFL is that San Diego has the opportunity to reintroduce itself to teams and fans around the NFL this coming Sunday.
What Does Trip to Arrowhead Hold for the Chargers?
Just a couple of weeks ago, this Sunday’s contest at Kansas City was probably as close to an automatic ‘W’ as one might find.
Now, however, the Chiefs have a little momentum coming off of their big win in New Orleans, while the Chargers look for something positive to take out of the Atlanta game. Something. Anything.
On a day when the Chargers returned starting running back Ryan Mathews to the fold, and on a day when San Diego was looking to prove that its first two wins were meaningful, the Bolts had little to celebrate.
Down 6-0 in the second quarter, the game swung on a Mathews fumble (first and goal) at the Atlanta 4 yard line, a potential touchdown never to be cashed in. While no one is saying the Chargers would have certainly won the game had they scored on that drive, it could well have turned out to be a different contest had the Bolts cashed it in on that sequence of events.
For Atlanta, Ryan seemed to be playing pitch and catch with his receivers most of the day, finishing up with 275 yards via the air and three TD’s.
Meantime, Atlanta’s defense was keeping San Diego punter Mike Scifres busy on the day, forcing a number of three and outs (San Diego was 5-of-11 on third down conversions), not to mention four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles).
In its first two games, San Diego averaged 37:07 in time of possession. On this fall afternoon, the Bolts only held the ball for 23:46.
Afterwards, San Diego QB Philip Rivers may have said it best when he told the media, “The way you lose games in this league is by turning the ball over. We turned it over four times. They turned it over once late in the game. Your chances of winning are very slim.”
Chances is a good way to define life in the NFL during 16 weeks of games.
You have to take advantage of the chances and opportunities you are given, something the Chargers did not when trailing 6-0 in the second quarter on Sunday.
By all accounts, the Falcons may still have gone on to win the game, but there is also little doubt that had the Bolts come away with seven on that drive, their attitude would have been different the remainder of the first half, a half that had the team being booed off the field at halftime.
Chances are the Bolts will rebound from this loss and give a good account of themselves in Kansas City this Sunday.
If not, you can almost bet that fans will pinpoint the loss to Atlanta as the initial flame that lit a firestorm Norv Turner and AJ Smith may never recover from.
Today’s question: Do you think Norv Turner will still be coaching the team by season’s end?