It’s been almost a month since the Chargers’ final game. It still stings, as I am sure it does for you as well. I wrote going into that game that it would either be the start or finish of something. It was most certainly the latter. When the smoke cleared (from the Raiders’ stupid fuckin’ fireworks show), the Chargers had gone 1-3 to finish the season and were out of the playoffs. I know I lost a little faith after the KC game, but that was the moment they clearly could have made this season mean something. From Roberts falling on his return, to Parham’s injury, the whole game was a missed opportunity. I don’t know if the Chiefs are the obstacle standing in the Chargers’ way. Look at what Cincy did to them both in the regular and postseason. Why couldn’t that be the Chargers? Clearly, the defense for starters. I didn’t even watch the AFC Championship game, but I know what happened. The Bengals’ D was able to keep KC out of the end zone after going down 18 AND picked their QB up from a 4th quarter interception. Could you imagine the Chargers doing that? Me neither. When people talked about that last game, I wrote on Twitter that some team would put together an unexpected run during the playoffs. But what I forgot was that those teams are able to do enough in December to get into the postseason. The Texans game is its own thing, obviously. But we can thank the Bengals for knocking the Raiders out. The reality is that we came out flat and scared in Vegas. Much like the KC game, we came back, but were unable to take control even after getting the lead. That was a problem all season long for the Chargers. The 3rd and 23 was horrendous and was followed by the pass interference on Harris. I’ve written for years within the Halls of Justice that teams make their own luck. Harris was awful all year. Ironically, his only big play was a pick of Joe Burrow in the end zone in Cincy. The pass from Carr wasn’t remotely catchable, but it’s not as if Harris had a reputation for breaking up passes this year. So the Raiders took the lead going into the half.
I finally watched the final two touchdown drives since the game ended. Any FAITHFUL READER wouldn’t be surprised to know that I wasn’t sold on us coming back as it was happening in real time. It was truly amazing that Herbert was able to convert all those 4th downs. At the time, I was only thinking it would be that much worse if we didn’t win.
Mike Williams will be a huge topic of conversation this offseason, but you can’t argue with his play in the clutch this season. Of course, I wished he could have held on to that 3rd down pass to put us into the playoffs. But he was reliable as we could have asked for this year. Keenan had tons of drops, though he was able to convert that fourth down against the Raiders. When Williams caught that long pass to set up the tying field goal, there was a moment where we all thought he might escape for a score. Critics will point out his lack of speed or the Chargers’ general lacking in the YAC category. I don’t claim to know how to assemble a roster, but I know these guys should have been good enough to beat the fucking Raiders.
It was surprising Hopkins tied it back up in OT, given the Chargers history in big spots. But in the end, the defense couldn’t hold. It was eerily similar to the 2019 loss to the Raiders. The timeout by Staley was what everyone talked about, but if Samuel had somehow broken up that 3rd down pass to Jones or if they could have at least slowed Jacobs down, they might have gotten the tie to put us in the post season.
In all those “Hops With Pop” shows, the common complaints by fans were the left side of the line, the run defense, Chris Harris, and Kenneth Murray. They all bit us in the ass in the biggest game of the year. Murray was the worst of all since Staley seemed to be forcing him on the field. He was out there for the plays that decided it all and there was no reason for it. I don’t think he takes orders from upstairs on who to play. But it made no sense. The decision to go on 4th on their own 19 was another controversial call, but it was really the decision to run twice in a row to Ekeler that proved fatal. Staley wasn’t perfect this year. He changed the culture, but not enough. The Rams seemed to have done fine, especially on defense, without him. The Bengals coach is also from the McVay tree and took his team all the way to the final game. Obviously, it’s not all him or even Burrow. I guess we got a break when we fucked up his thumb?
The sad truth is that the Chargers couldn’t get into the playoffs. I don’t know if the clues to the Bengals Super Bowl run can be found in the regular season. They needed a final interception to get past the Raiders. But we couldn’t even get a single pick off of Carr. I will admit that even with all the Chargers fans in attendance, there was a boisterous crowd in the Bolts’ collective faces. But as the conference title games proved, that doesn’t mean a thing if you are able to shut them up with your play.
That’s all I can stomach for now. I’m sure I’ll complain about the season and the final game, especially, until September. I don’t really care who wins the Super Bowl. You can argue for either outcome making the Chargers look bad. However, it’s those final four games that really did that. Teams have slip ups in the regular season. The Bengals lost to the Jets and looked awful against the Jags. But the Chargers had games against the Vikings, Pats, and Broncos that proved that this was more than an aberration. The team let Herbert down, but it shouldn’t have been up to him to try to carry them. They have a lot of shit to figure out this offseason, as do we.
PS I don’t think I’ll ever forgive Andre Roberts for that fumble
JUSTICE IS COMING is the longest running Chargers blog on the web. ROSS WARNER is the 2001 Chargers Fan of the Year and a frequently published freelancer. Long Island, NY