Source: Associated Press
By Bernie Wilson
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Chargers picked up right where they left off in January.
Eight months after stumbling out of the playoffs against the New York Jets, the Chargers lost 21-14 as road favourites against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night.
It's another slow start during Norv Turner's tenure as head coach.
Before the season, Turner said he thought this team can be the best in his four seasons as head coach.
The Chargers were without holdout left tackle Marcus McNeill and Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Even if Jackson had signed the contract he was tendered as a restricted free agent, he would have been sidelined due to a three-game NFL suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Another player the Chargers clearly missed was Kassim Osgood(notes), a three-time Pro Bowl special teams player who was allowed to leave as a free agent. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who visit on Sunday for the Chargers' home opener.
Osgood caught the game-winning 24-yard touchdown pass from David Garrard in the Jags' 24-17 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. It was Osgood's first TD catch since 2004. Although Osgood was a star wide receiver at San Diego State, Turner never gave him a chance to play the position while he was the Chargers.
"You can get into that," Turner said when asked Tuesday if the Chargers missed Osgood. "A year ago, when we lost all the guys throughout the year, we were able to replace them. I believe we can replace anyone who's not here. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about people who aren't here."
The Bolts' big breakdowns Monday night were on special teams, including rookie Dexter McCluster's team-record 94-yard punt return for a 21-7 halftime lead.
"The disappointing thing, obviously, was our coverage game," Turner said. "I don't know if they were affected by the footing, the weather, they became tentative. But we had a number of guys, six or seven guys, who have been stellar special teams players here over the last two to three years, have tough plays and tough production on the coverage teams. It's obviously something that we have to address and we have to address quickly and get better at."
To put the loss in perspective, the Chargers did more in three months last year — they won their final 11 regular-season games — than the Chiefs did in three years. Kansas City won only 10 games combined the last three years.
Accustomed to scoring more than 30 points a game, the Chargers have scored 28 combined in their last eight quarters. They lost 17-14 to the Jets in the playoffs.
The Chargers have nearly 10,000 tickets available for their home opener, including more than 7,000 general admission tickets needed to be sold to lift the local TV blackout. The Chargers have been able to lift the blackout for 48 straight regular-season and playoff games.