SAN DIEGO ( — More than 24 hours later, Antonio Gates still couldn’t believe it — or explain it.

The Chargers’ 37-0 loss at Miami on Sunday was their worst defeat in 18 years.

“I’ve never been a part of something of that magnitude at all in my sports life, period,” said the star tight end, who’s been with the Chargers since 2003.

What had Gates shaking his head Monday afternoon was that a Philip Rivers-led team crossed the 50-yard line only once, on the opening drive. That drive ended when rookie Branden Oliver was stuffed on fourth-and-1 from the Miami 22.

“In this league, you just don’t lose like that. Guys are too talented, guys are too good. It just wasn’t our day,” Gates said.

“I don’t want to blame absolutely no one. I take the blame about what I could have done to prevent that,” he added. “That’s the message that we as veteran leaders send to the rest of the group: `What can you do better to help us win. What can you do better to help us prevent a situation like that.’ That’s real hard to do. I mean, for a team to beat us like that, it just wasn’t the San Diego Chargers that I’ve been a part of that, that we’ve built. It wasn’t our best performance by far.”

The Chargers (5-4) are in a freefall going into their bye, having lost three straight games by increasingly larger margins.

After rallying to beat winless Oakland, the Chargers lost at home to Kansas City, 23-20, and then on the road to Denver, 35-21. They’ve gone from being tied for the NFL’s best record at 5-1 to now needing to rally to get a playoff berth.

Sunday’s debacle was their worst loss since a 45-7 defeat to New England in 1996. It was their first shutout loss since a 34-0 defeat at Kansas City in 1999, when Jim Harbaugh was their quarterback.

Rivers was intercepted three times and lost a fumble. It got so bad that Rivers made way for backup Kellen Clemens. The line played so poorly that San Diego had only 50 yards on 19 rushes.

Coach Mike McCoy didn’t have any answers on Monday.

“We flat out played poor, obviously. Look at the scoreboard. It’s not going to lie,” McCoy said.

The coach said no one could blame the preparation.

“We had the right mindset going in, understanding the importance of the next game, playing a good team, on the road, going to Miami, what it means playing a conference opponent and what’s at stake there, the importance of those games. We played poor as a team. We did a poor job coaching.”

“When you get beat 37-0 you obviously did something wrong,” McCoy said. “It’s hard for me to think of a game that I’ve been involved in that’s been like that in a long time. It’s part of the game and it’s a perfect example of, you don’t go out and play your best game, you’re going to get exposed. We got exposed in a lot of areas.”

After their bye, the Chargers host the division-rival Oakland Raiders, who have yet to win a game in the 2014 season, following their loss to Seattle on Sunday.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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