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NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
It was there for the taking: a precious San Diego Chargers victory on the road.
The Chargers were one yard away from the Washington Redskins' end zone on Sunday, that close to going ahead in the final seconds of the game. But San Diego couldn't punch it in from one yard out and, just like that, the team absorbed a 30-24 overtime loss.
"We had every opportunity at the end to win," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "We had three shots and we didn't get in."
The Chargers' red-zone blues got the best of them again, as they let a victory slip from their grasp.
Not scoring a touchdown on three chances led to plenty of second-guessing at McCoy's day-after press conference.
"We didn't get in so there's some second-guessing in situations like that," McCoy said Monday. "But as a coaching staff you do what you think is the best for the team. We called the plays for the right situations, but we didn't get it done. We had a number of opportunities, but give Washington credit. It made plays it had to do at the end."
But the focus isn't on how Washington won the game, at least not in San Diego. It's clear the feeling is the Chargers went from being on the cusp of a win and possibly making a playoff run to leaving themselves in a precarious situation.
Sunday's game was the first of four outings which will likely define the season. After Sunday's toe-stubbing, the Chargers face the Broncos on Sunday, then take trips to Miami and Kansas City.
They no longer hold down the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, with teams fighting for that spot -- the Jets, Dolphins, Titans, and even the Browns -- winning this week.
"We're moving forward," McCoy said.
Considering the alternative, it's the best direction for the disappointed Chargers to head.
"I think in that situation, it's our job to make sure we convert third downs and answer those drives," quarterback Philip Rivers said of the failed attempt to win Sunday's game in regulation. "We didn't get many opportunities the first half, and that's our fault offensively for not sustaining those drives. It's not so much our defense; it's that when we get our chances on offense, we've got to stay on the field."
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
-- CB Derek Cox, the Chargers' $20 million free-agent pickup, was benched for the second half of Sunday's game. Cox has struggled since coming over from the Jaguars.
"If there is something we are going to change, week to week or something happens in a game, the players aren't always going to agree with what you do," coach Mike McCoy said. "But that's our job to do what is best for the team." McCoy wouldn't say if Cox would start on Sunday against the Broncos.
-- The Chargers' defense set a team record for not allowing a touchdown in 12 straight quarters at Washington. But once that standard was lost, it was shattered in a big way. The Redskins scored in the second, third and fourth quarters, then in overtime to pull out the win.
-- Since quarterback Philip Rivers took over as the starter in 2006, the Chargers are 3-5 in the game immediately following their bye week.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- RB Ryan Mathews had just one carry in the second half after looking good in the first half while gaining 33 yards on six carries in the opening two quarters. He had but one rush, for one yard, in the second half. He didn't see the ball on the Chargers' final three plays when they were inside the Redskins' 1 near the end of the game.
-- ILB Andrew Gachkar got another start but he might not this coming Sunday against the Broncos. Donald Butler, who has missed all but one play in the last three games with a groin injury, could be back in the lineup.
-- WR Vincent Brown ran the wrong route and it cost the Chargers the football when Philip Rivers was picked off. Brown had a tough game, catching but one of the six passes aimed his way. Brown finished with 17 receiving yards.
-- ILB Donald Butler (groin) may be able to practice this week.
-- T Mike Remmers (ankle) could be down another week.
-- G Chad Rinehart (toe) is expected to increase his practice time this week.
REPORT CARD VS. REDSKINS
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- For a majority of the game, Rivers was a tad off, although the two picks were the blame, partially, of WRs Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen. Rivers threw for two touchdowns and 341 yards, but most of that came late in the game. Allen, the rookie, was fabulous -- eight catches, 128 yards and a score, but he was also dreadful -- dropping a third-down pass and not fighting aggressively for a pass which was intercepted. Danny Woodhead was the top receiver with nine catches for 77 yards - most of the yardage came to backs and tight ends. Protection was decent, allowing but one sack.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Only 69 yards here and what that really needed was 70 as the offense couldn't get that one last yard at the end to win the game. Ryan Mathews started strong and disappeared -- he averaged nearly five yards but had only seven carries. Woodhead got his touches, but averaged but three yards. The Chargers had no real interest in establishing a running game; the run-blocking was decent when the run calls did come.
PASS DEFENSE: F -- The secondary was consistently beat on big plays and at one point, the torching got so bad that starter Derek Cox was benched. When Robert Griffin III did need a big play, it usually came threw the air. On five occasions, Griffin had a completion of at least 20 yards. The Chargers were unable to get any consistent pressure on Griffin, although they did knock down a few passes.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Four rushing touchdowns and 209 rushing yards tell the story as the Chargers had no answers for the Redskins' ground attack. Darrel Young had all four scores and Alfred Morris was a load in gaining 121 yards. The linebackers had trouble corralling anyone once they reached the second level and the secondary was nothing but speed bumps on too many occasions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Two field-goal blocks was big, especially late in the game when it looked like the Chargers were going to escape with a win by a slim margin. And Mike Scifres' punting was sensational with his first two efforts finishing on the Redskins' 1-yard line. Not much from the Chargers return game; coverages were fine.
COACHING: F -- When your team is perched on a rival's 1-yard line and the game is ticking toward its conclusion -- and you have four shots, 21 seconds and two time outs -- and you don't win, something's amiss. That could be the execution from the players, but one most also look at the play-calling and it was curious to say the least. An inside running play by your team's smallest back, a fade to a tight end covered well by DeAngelo Hall and a fade right thrown by a moving quarterback who doesn't do well outside of the pocket is a head-scratcher. And defensively, the tackling was poor and the pass coverages were such that Redskins receivers were often running free. Coach Mike McCoy and his staff have had better days.