Call it a lost Sunday. A lost coach. A lost quarterback. A lost season. Lost confidence in the organization.
A third straight season without a playoff appearance is now on the horizon with a star quarterback battered into submission by sacks, hits, a leaky offensive line, receivers who cannot get open and running backs who seldom bust off big runs.
It was a game that really wasn’t very close, played by a team that wasn’t very good, and truly now, is a symbol of a once-elite team that is now mediocre.
Peyton Manning was vintage Peyton Manning — throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He survived a blitz-happy defense, may have overthrown some receivers early, but kept at it until he wore down what was left of the Chargers’ defense.
And he did it by himself after heavy duty running back Willis McGahee left early with a bruised knee. No running game? No problem, because Manning carries his team with his right arm.
Philip Rivers, suffering through the worst season of his career, continued his downward spiral with two interceptions, three fumbles, four sacks and 11 hits by pass rushers. It was as an anemic performance as you have seen in more than a decade. He did throw two touchdown passes to Danario Alexander late, but the game was over, the Broncos had called off the hounds.
San Diego went nearly 40 minutes into the game with just one first down. At one stretch in the third quarter, they had 13 possessions for a total of 64 yards in total offense. They had one quality drive in those 13 possessions stretching into the third stanza. It brought back terrible flashbacks of some of the games Ryan Leaf quarterbacked in the days of the (1-15) seasons.
For one Sunday, the Chargers’ defense played their hearts out. They blitzed Manning all day and, yes they had three sacks, but that came on 29 blitzes. And when they needed defensive plays, they had no gas left to deliver them.
The longer it went, the more you were sure Manning’s next play would be a big play to blow the game open.
The Bolts had another punt blocked. They had virtually no run game. They tried an onside kick to start the third quarter, hoping to get great field position and surprise the Broncos. They did — they got the ball and proceeded to go three-and-out from the 50.
Alexander, the refugee from the Rams, caught big passes late, when the game was all but decided.
Anybody see big money wide receivers, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd? Seldom.
There was virtually nothing from Ryan Mathews, the hoped-to-be replacement for the legendary LaDainian Tomlinson. Star tight-end Antonio Gates looked like he has reached 100,000 miles on those tires and never seemed to be a threat.
The leakage in the offensive line was awful. Here’s a snapshot for your memory — Rivers barking at his right tackle-right guard to slide block to the right to stop a blitz, and Jeromey Clary acting like a traffic cone, standing still, as linebacker Von Miller blows by, crushing the quarterback.
It was a shameful effort by the once bright light coach Norv Turner. It was another mistake-prone outing for the collapsing Rivers. It was a waste of an effort by a Chargers defensive that spilled its guts and left some blood on the field.
So San Diego comes home with a (4-6) record. There will be no hope of finishing first in the division, because Denver has beaten them twice.
And their hopes of hanging tough in the wildcard race are nowhere in sight.
Turner’s team is in another brutal tailspin, having lost five of six. They may get a break in the schedule, coming home to beat teams they might beat if they play well. But that is now open to debate.
General Manager A.J. Smith’s off-season spending spree has not brought them much in the way of impact players. Turner’s play calling seems to be plagued by non-producing skill players. Rivers has no confidence in his offensive line.
Bad loss to the enemy, Peyton Manning and Denver. Bad roster right now. Bad quarterbacking on top of it all. Bad season.
Sunday’s shelling in Denver only drives home everything the fans have been exposed to in the last three seasons. Losses upon losses now bring us to the loss of confidence in everyone in the organization.
Good news? Maybe there will be a housecleaning at the end of the season. New leadership may be the only hope for a better future. There are just six Sunday’s left in a sorry NFL season.
You cannot hang your hat on anything positive right now about the Chargers — you just hang your head.
Tomorrow has to be better than today, where everything seems to be lost as it relates to the Bolts.
What do you think, Southwest Riverside? Is all hope lost for this team? Is it time for change? Tell me in the comments section below: