Mistakes Lead To Another Chargers Loss
Jaguars Beat Chargers 20-17
November 16, 2017
The Los Angeles Chargers are like the boxer that no one wants to fight. It is going to be a close fight, a bloody fight. They can get knocked down, but they get right back up. They never quit.
They are going to fight until the bitter end. Unfortunately, the end is usually bitter for the Chargers.
On Sunday the Chargers lost in overtime to the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-17, dropping to 3-6 for the season and losing another game they should have won. In a wild fourth quarter the Jaguars tied the game with a 34-yard field goal from former Charger kicker Josh Lambo with three seconds left in the game. In overtime Lambo made a 30-yard field goal to win it for the Jaguars.
But this game was lost in regulation by the Chargers.
With about nine minutes remaining in the game and the Chargers leading 17-14 Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw a pass right in to the arms of Safety Tre Boston, who had nothing but green grass in front of him to the end zone.
Boston dropped the interception. Had he caught it, the Chargers would have had a two-score lead and with the way their defense was performing, a likely win.
Boston made up for the drop with a key interception with about two minutes left of a Bortles pass at the Chargers' 42-yard line. This is where the game got wild.
The Chargers' offense had good field position, a victory in sight. Charger rookie running back Austin Ekeler took the handoff, was hit behind the line of scrimmage and fumbled, the fumble recovered by the Jaguars. The kind of mistake a running back cannot make in that situation.
The Jaguars had a first down at the Charger 36 but the Charger defense stiffened and on a deep third down pass Boston intercepted Bortles, again. But for some unknown reason, Boston decided to run out of bounds at the Charger ten-yard line and started celebrating, instead of turning upfield and gaining the easy yardage that was open to him.
A huge mental mistake by Boston because the Chargers were backed up and the Jaguars had all three timeouts left. The Jaguars' defense held and forced a punt, which led to the game tying field goal by Lambo.
As Charger head coach Anthony Lynn said after the game: "We had opportunities to win that game on the road, and we didn't finish plays. We had a couple of guys do some dumb things. That was one of the dumb things (I mentioned). Instead of advancing the football, because they're still in the game with all three timeouts. I mean, I've never seen it before."
It has been said that "you've got to lose to know how to win." If that is true the Chargers may be on the verge of greatness. The Chargers are fast becoming the "Heartbreak Kids of the NFL."
Each week they find a different way to lose a heartbreaker. The Chargers did everything they needed to do to win the game. The Jaguars have the #1 pass defense in the NFL. They lead the NFL in sacks, had allowed only four touchdown passes all season and had the top defensive passer rating of 63.2% going into the game.
In four quarters, Charger quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 234 yards, two touchdown passes, zero interceptions and was not sacked. He had a quarterback passer rating in four quarters of 99.4%, easily the best performance by a quarterback versus the Jaguars this season.
Rivers completed 13/21 passes to running backs and tight ends, doing a great job of getting the ball out quickly before the Jaguar pass rush could get to him.
Ekeler caught five passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries. He ran tough, broke tackles and made plays for the offense. This was the best game of his young career.
The Charger run defense shut down the #1 rushing offense in the NFL. Star Jaguar running back Leonard Fournette was held to 33 yards on 17 carries and failed to find the end zone for the first time this season. The Charger pass rush sacked Bortles three times and forced the two fourth quarter interceptions to Boston through their pass pressure on Bortles.
So how did the Chargers lose this game? By not playing smart. The plays by Boston were key, but he had help. Defensive end Joey Bosa committed a key 15-yard roughing the passer penalty late in the game that helped put the Jaguars in field goal range to tie the game.
It was the second game in a row that Bosa had committed a penalty that hurt the team late in the game. The special teams continued to perform poorly, giving up a 56-yard touchdown run on a fake punt late in the first quarter.
This week the Chargers welcome the Buffalo Bills to the StubHub Center in Carson for an afternoon contest. The game starts at 1:05 p.m.
The Bills have a 5-4 record but are coming off a terrible 47-10 loss at home to the New Orleans Saints. The Bills rank 28th in the NFL in total offense and 25th in total defense. This looks to be a good matchup for the Chargers.
It is also a game the Chargers need to have any chance at a winning record or a postseason playoff berth. As Rivers stated after the loss on Sunday: "We know there's not much room (for error) when we started today. We have a tough hill to climb, but I think we'll be up for the task."
The task will include the Bills on Sunday followed by a Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas. A very tough week that will prove if the Chargers are indeed up to the task.