By Joe Messineo
A convergence of bad luck from different fronts on Sunday delivered a brutal punch to the San Diego Chargers’ playoff hopes. What looked to a be a solid chance to get within a game of the Broncos imploded, circumstances that now put San Diego at 4-6 on the year and three games out with just six games remaining.
The nightmare began when the Broncos were on the verge of losing by a point with less than two minutes left. Instead, they blocked an extra point and returned it for two points to win 25-23. Meanwhile, the Chiefs trailed the Carolina Panthers 17-3 at halftime before coming back with 17 fourth quarter points for the 20-17 victory.
The Chargers won’t have any chance to pick up ground on the 7-3 Denver Broncos next week because both teams will have their bye week. Plus, San Diego very well could fall further behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, who are both 7-2 and facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans, all playoff contending teams.
The cap on a miserable day came late in the Chargers game against the Miami Dolphins. With the game tied and less than two minutes left, Philip Rivers’ attempt to get San Diego in position for a game-winning score turned into a pick-six for Miami. Another interception moments later capped any hope of a comeback, making four pickoffs in a single quarter.
Rivers threw to seven different receivers, including five completions to Tyrell Williams for 125 yards. The problem was that he was missing his two available threat in Travis Benjamin, who was out with a bad knee.
One of Rivers’ main problems was that he seemingly had little time to ever throw, with poor pass protection that got him sacked three times and rushed a number of other tosses. Plus, Melvin Gordon could only average less than three years per carry.
On defense, lineman Corey Liuget was one of the few players who made any real contributions. One of the most costly errors came when Casey Hayward blew a shot at San Diego’s own pick-six.
The Chargers now get to think about this latest loss for two weeks before they travel to Houston to take on the Texans on November 27. Somewhat ominously, the last four times they’ve suffered a loss entering a bye week, they’ve lost their next game three times. That includes last year’s embarrassing 33-3 home loss to the Chiefs.
San Diego can run the table and finish 10-6, which will certainly put them in the postseason conversation. The problem is that a road game against the Carolina Panthers and home matchups versus Oakland and Kansas City make that unlikely.