If you thought Monday night's 31-28 loss to the Houston Texas was an omen of things to come for the San Diego Chargers, you may not be alone.
After bolting to a 28-7 lead, the Chargers watched the visitors score 24 unanswered points, capped off by Randy Bullock's game-winning 41-yard field goal with :05 remaining. When all was said and done, the Texans rallied and the Chargers and their fans were left broken-hearted.
Kicking off the season at home on a Monday night, San Diego (0-1) looked to put behind it the last few seasons of Norv & Co., though this debacle had all the makings of last season's self destruction at home (also on a Monday evening) versus Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. In that game, the Chargers held a commanding 24-0 lead, only to see their division rivals rally for the win.
A season later, the Chargers seemed in cruise control against a Houston (1-0) team thought by many to be a serious contender for the AFC crown in 2013. Early on, the Texans played anything like champs. In the end, though, good teams find a way to win, while the so-so teams find a way to lose.
Quarterback Philip Rivers, who looked like a Pro Bowl signal caller for the first half of the game, wound up with four TD passes, but a critical interception with 9:30 remaining in the contest swung the game. Deep in Chargers' territory, Rivers tried to hit running back Danny Woodhead on a pass play, but Houston's Brian Cushing picked off the pass and took it 18 yards to the house, tying the game at 28.
After a pair of San Diego punts and one by Houston, the Texans used the game's final drive to their advantage.
While the San Diego defense appeared to be more than tiring, Houston's offense moved the ball down field, using several key passing plays and some runs from Mission Bay High product Arian Foster. The Texans moved the ball into position for Bullock's game-winner, sending many in the crowd in white home disappointed.
After the game, Chargers' Head Coach Mike McCoy noted to the press "The effort was there. We just didn't finish it. It comes down to not finishing a football game."
Yes, not finishing a game is something San Diego and its fans are all too familiar with in recent times.
While this loss is just one game, it signaled several things:
* Lack of energy - Chargers' defense looked tired late in the game. Yes, Houston was moving the ball and converting a number of third downs, but conditioning came into play for Bolts;
* The big pick - While Rivers (195 yards passing, 4 TD's) had an overall good game, that fourth quarter interception was a killer. Blame Rivers, the offensive line, whatever. Good teams finish games, something San Diego did not do;
* Where's the running game? - Starting running back Ryan Mathews only managed a meager 33 yards rushing on 13 carries. Again, offensive line gets some of the blame, but Mathews is still not even close to being one of the elite backs in the NFL;
* Upset fans - Lastly, if the sentiments of some of the fans after the game was anything for the Chargers to think about, it was mainly that this team is not ready anytime soon to compete for the Super Bowl. Some fans even mentioned about putting their season tickets up for sale sooner rather than later. As one fan noted on the way out of the game, I've seen this movie too many times before.
After opening the season at home, San Diego travels to Philadelphia (Sept. 15) and Tennessee (Sept. 22) before hosting Dallas (Sept. 29) to close out the month.