By Dave Thomas
Stop for a minute and imagine just where the San Diego Chargers might be now had they won just a few of those games they lost in the final minutes earlier this season.
As the Chargers fight for their AFC playoff lives these last few weeks of the season, one thing is for sure – this team had the potential and the opportunity to be better, much better. That said, new head coach Mike McCoy has done an overall great job of bringing together a banged up offensive line, an inept secondary at times, and a run game that hasn’t always had its best days, all leading to a 7-7 record.
With two games left in the regular season, the Bolts need to win out and get some help along the way.
After giving New England an assist last Thursday evening by beating current top-seed Denver, the Chargers did not receive the same in return from Tom Brady and Co. The Patriots dropped a 24-20 decision in South Florida on Sunday to the Dolphins, allowing the Fish to go to 8-6 and temporarily secure the sixth and final seed in the AFC playoffs (depending on what Baltimore did in its Monday night game at Detroit). Had the Dolphins lost, they still technically would have been ahead of the Chargers given they defeated San Diego in Miami last month.
San Diego’s Missed Opportunities
When you look at San Diego’s schedule this year, it may have looked a little more ominous than it truly was.
The Chargers opened the season at home on Monday Night Football with a heartbreaking 31-28 loss to the defending AFC South Champion Houston Texans (13-3 a season ago). As everyone and their brother knows by now, Houston would win its next game (Tennessee), then proceed to drop 12 straight. Not exactly a loss San Diego can be proud of.
Another blown opportunity came in Week 3 at Tennessee, where the Titans rallied with less than a minute to play, scoring a 20-17 win over the Bolts. Again, a loss to a team that is under .500 heading into the last two games of the season.
Fast forward to Week 5 and the ugly 27-17 loss in the Bay Area to the rival Oakland Raiders.
If you watched the first 30 minutes of play, you would have thought the Chargers were still asleep back at their hotel. A late rally fell short, leaving San Diego with one of its ugliest setbacks of the season.
Two more missed opportunities came in November in Weeks 9 and 11, losses to Washington (30-24 in overtime) and Miami (20-16), respectively. Again, both games the Chargers very easily could have won.
Yes, you can certainly make an argument that San Diego very well could have lost their victories versus Philadelphia and Kansas City (both three-point) wins, so maybe this all just crying over spilled milk.
The fact is, a Charger team that could and should have finished a few more games this year could very well now be in the discussion with Denver and Kansas City for AFC West supremacy.
Then again, isn’t this the Charger way of doing things in recent times?
Give their fans something to salivate over and think about (playoffs)…. only to watch the hopes die?
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.