Lions Roar Past Chargers in Second Half
September 19, 2019
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has often mentioned how "hard it is to win to win in this league." He is referring to the competitiveness of the NFL. Each week brings a new challenge and many games are decided in the last minute.
The other side of that is how easy it is to lose an NFL game. On Sunday in Detroit, the Chargers showed just how easy it is to lose a football game, losing to the Detroit Lions 13-10 in an ugly performance on the road in Detroit.
The Chargers should have won this game. They led 10-6 at halftime behind an Austin Ekeler one-yard leap for a touchdown and a 39-yard field goal by Ty Long. The Lions had collected their six points on a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to running back Kerryon Johnson.
The extra point was no good. What followed in the second half was a series of mistakes that no NFL team should make or could overcome.
The Chargers had four offensive possessions in the second half. On all four possessions of the second half, the Chargers drove inside the Lions 25-yard line. The first possession of the second half took the Chargers to the Lions one-yard line. This drive took 6 plays to go 77 yards.
There were two Charger touchdowns nullified due to penalties on this drive. The first was a 60-yard touchdown run by Justin Jackson, called back on a holding penalty by wide receiver Dontrelle Inman.
Two plays later, Rivers threw a short pass to the right to Ekeler, who took it 22 yards for a touchdown. This touchdown was called back on an illegal block below the waist by right tackle Sam Tevi. Even with those two setbacks, the Chargers had a first down at the one-yard line after a pass interference call in the endzone.
On first down and goal at the one-yard line, Ekeler attempted another leap into the endzone. The ball was knocked loose and recovered by the Lions. Leaping from the one-yard line in that situation did not seem to make sense.
Charger head coach Anthony Lynn agreed, stating: 'There's a time to leap, and there's a time to run through. Usually in a got-to-have-it situation, you can go over the top and extend the ball, but that definitely wasn't a got-to-have-it situation. The ball should have been secured.''
The next two Charger possessions resulted in field goal attempts. Both opportunities were squandered when Long missed field goals of 39 and 41 yards. Three scoring opportunities and zero points. The game should have been over, but the Lions were still hanging around.
Stafford finally put together a scoring drive for the Lions in the 4th quarter, taking the Lions 69 yards in eight plays, with the drive ending on a Stafford 31-yard scoring pass to Kenny Golladay. The extra point was good, and the Lions had their first lead at 13-10 with 7:21 remaining in the game.
With the Chargers trailing for the first time in the game and regular season, Rivers put together one last offensive drive deep into Lions territory, reaching the Lions 19-yard line. On third down, a poorly thrown pass by Rivers was intercepted in the endzone by Lions cornerback Darius Slay. Wide receiver Keenan Allen had been having his way with Slay all day, but on this play Slay had Allen covered and the pass was short.
Rivers was very blunt about the Chargers performance: "When you turn it over in the red zone twice and then have two touchdowns called back, you're asking for it. That was what I felt like all day: We're asking for it."
Coach Lynn added: "Detroit's a good football team, but they damn sure didn't need our help. We made way too many mistakes today to beat anybody. That's what this game boiled down to - mistake after mistake."
The loss dropped the Chargers to 1-1 for the season. In a competitive league and division, this was just an inexcusable loss. In a game where the defense played well and the offense marched up and down the field, to lose 13-10 is hard to swallow for the Chargers and their fans. With the injuries piling up, the Chargers just cannot afford to give games away.
The Chargers came into this game missing six starters due to injury, plus their regular field goal kicker. The latest injury was tight end Hunter Henry, who will miss 4 to 6 weeks with a fractured knee. During Sunday's game in Detroit, safety Adrian Phillips suffered a broken forearm, which will keep him out for the next eight weeks. The Chargers did sign veteran tight end Lance Kendricks to help give Rivers another receiving option.
The Houston Texans are up next on the Chargers schedule. The game will be played at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson this Sunday, Sept. 22, at 1:25 p.m. This will be a difficult matchup for the Chargers.
The Texans were a playoff team last season at 11-5 and they have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Deshaun Watson. Both teams are 1-1 and neither wants to fall to 1-2.