It’s not usual that I don’t really write before a game last week. But that’s how pissed I was about the Denver game. In fact, when I watched “Backstage: Chargers” on Facebook last week, I had to skip over clips from the end of the game. If you haven’t checked it, it’s really well done. Of course, in the week leading up to the Broncos game, Lynn preached execution and keeping Von Miller from “wrecking the game.” They even had Kobe Bryant come in to reinforce the message. When games are actually going in, I try to keep myself distracted and not get too high or low. That’s different from the old days. But what’s worse is when the game is over it all comes crashing down on me. I was in a funk for a long time after the Denver game. To watch the play of Rivers throwing the ball away and see the Broncos spring up on the sideline with a look of “what the fuck did he just do?” was too much to take.
The only way that loss serves a larger purpose is if the Chargers win tomorrow night. It will be far from easy, especially with Gordon out. But the people who were sure our season was doomed after he got hurt were also the ones who automatically claimed we’d lose to the Steelers and Chiefs. Many of those people also were calling for Ekler to start earlier this year. To follow a little Road House philosophy, I’m being nice until it’s time not to be.
Losing Gordon sucks. But considering how bad it could have been, I think we should feel fortunate. All year long, people have been complaining about how to get Ekler more touches. The problem with the lone game he started was that Wisenhunt seemed to leave all the plays in that Gordon would have run. I know the hamstring only became an issue after the flight to London, but Ekler was getting destroyed behind line of scrimmage. This was way too reminiscent of the Denver playoff game. If Ryan Mathews had been healthy, maybe you would have seen an upset in that game instead of Danny Woodhead being run into the line for 3 quarters. They had to know Mathews wasn’t playing and by the time the Chargers made adjustments they were too far down. Of course, if Weddle makes a stop on 3rd and 17 then maybe Allen’s late TDs mean something.
The Denver game from two weeks ago also reminded us why Rivers can’t be an MVP candidate until he comes up against a good team in a big spot. Sadly, you could argue that he hasn’t had a signature playoff win EVER. In 2007, after Gates got cheapshotted against the Titans, Tennessee dared him to beat them. He did but was hurt on the Sproles TD the following week. I love Phil and one of the best things about the December 2013 win at Denver was to see how happy he’d be if he ever got that big win and the respect that would come with it.
Pittsburgh is flawed, no doubt. But we lost to them in the playoffs almost a decade ago and haven’t beaten them in a crucial game since 2006. The last time we were there was a meaningless fluke like the Baltimore game on Sunday Night. Could the Chargers lose and lose to KC and still get into the playoffs? Sure, but I don’t think they will. The only thing about “justice” is that this team usually gets what it deserves. They got out of their own messes against SF, TN, and SEA. But against Denver, they shat on themselves and now Denver can think about running the table and running us out of the playoff hunt.
But a win tomorrow changes that. It gives #Philcember meaning. I don’t care what the “experts” think about the Chargers, but I can’t get myself believing until they win a game like this. Tedy Bruschi, who saw first hand how this team can wilt against more poised competition on 1/14/07, compared their situation to the Cowboys on Thursday. I couldn’t agree more. Do you think we have as much talent on the field and on the sidelines as Dallas? Yes, Gordon was out, but the Cowboys didn’t really get their usual production from Elliot. What’s the point of us having all this “talent” if it doesn’t produce when we need it most. Why can’t the Chargers beat the Steelers tomorrow night? The Answer is because of the Chargers.
That’s me in my hotel room the night before the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh. There was a time where I’d be there tomorrow night. But I’ll leave that to other fans now. In the years since that game, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls. The last was after beating us in the playoffs. Denver just beat them and the Jaguars went into their stadium last year and shoved them around. Even with Addae back there waiting to miss his next tackle, this defense needs to step up. Bosa and Ingram are great but they need to make the plays they didn’t against the Pats, Jags, and Chiefs last year. On the way out to the Denver game (I can’t believe Carson has seats where you can sit and watch the players go onto the field) I heard someone give the old adage about big players making big plays in big games. They didn’t that day but the Broncos game could be excused if the Chargers win tomorrow.
I’m not predicting a win. Why should I? They haven’t gotten over this hump before and they shouldn’t be taken seriously until they do. Pittsburgh will harass Phil and will expect him to make a crucial mistake like he did against Denver. It was nice to see him be so accurate last week but let’s remember who it was against. This is the game where you show people you’re not the same old Rivers. Even though he is apparently being courted for another coaching job, Wis needs to keep the Steelers guessing and use Ekler intelligently. LT was saying on NFL Network that he’s afraid that they will pass too much. That’s something that Pitt does as well although Conner has been great. Our offensive line is either great, awful, or just the result of Rivers getting rid of the ball. Pro Football Focus says they suck. I heard Phil Simms (who also picked us to win) say they’ve been great. Tevi will start because Barskdsale is dealing with some personal issues again. I might hate his play on the field but don’t wish him ill. However, they don’t get much from this guy in terms of his play. Would any other team be employing him?Mebane will miss his second straight game and we’re not sure why either. He’s had a better season than last (I guess Barksdale as well) but apparently has a lot “going on.”
Again, we can absolutely beat this team, but that doesn’t mean that we will. They will attack and taunt. If they win, it’s not trash talk. It’s like Keenan Allen saying the Broncos suck. If you lose again to them and they somehow get into the playoffs, it’s empty trash talk.
There’s winners and there’s losers and we’ve often been on the wrong side of that line. I’m tired of gettin’ caught out on the losin’ end.
So there you have it. I’ll be watching but can’t allow myself to believe until they deliver. What’s the point of being all hyped up just to lose when it matters? I’ll save you the trouble of answering. There isn’t. I think I said this before the KC game in 2014. It’s for all intents and purposes a playoff game. They could beat Cincy after losing, maybe beat KC. But I think this is their moment. I’ve been wrong before, certainly. They got manhandled by Cincy in December of 2013 at home and beat them when it counted a month later. But enough is enough. The Chargers will be in prime time three of the next five weeks. If they deserve it, we’ll know after tomorrow.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that tomorrow’s the first night of Hanukkah. It will also be Sammy’s 44th birthday. I couldn’t write this, or do much else, without her. So I’ll dedicate this installment of JIC to her. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it.
Hopefully the Bolts will justify the dedication.