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No charmed Chargers

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: The Press-Enterprise

    SAN DIEGO - It isn't 2004 anymore.

    Not that the San Diego Chargers needed the reminder, but a smack-themselves-in-the-head loss to Dallas in their opener clearly separates them from their magical run last season.

    The Chargers combined a charmed life with clutch play last year on their way to a 12-4 record and a playoff appearance.

    On Sunday they made more mistakes in their 28-24 defeat at Qualcomm Stadium than FEMA Director Michael D. Brown on his résumé. The Chargers repeatedly turned opportunity into bad news.

    Dumb penalties on defense, a shanked punt and a dubious management decision that kept Antonio Gates out of the season opener all helped put them in the losers lounge one week into the season.

    Even with the errors, the Chargers had a chance to win with a first-and-goal at the 7 with 42 seconds left. Four misfired passes later it was 2005 and the Chargers were 0-1.

    "We feel like we're better than last year," said quarterback Drew Brees. "We feel like the sky is the limit."

    That may be, but the sky just got a little farther away.

    Dallas scored the game-deciding touchdown with just over three minutes left in the game. It came at the end of a short, 44-yard drive, set up by a punt that Mike Scifres scuffed all of 18 yards off the side of his foot.

    "I don't remember making any punts like that before," said Scifres, in a disconsolate mood afterwards but willing to take blame. "It's unacceptable. It's all my fault."

    Not exactly.

    The Cowboys moved the ball to the San Diego 31. But two runs went nowhere and a false start put the Cowboys in a third-and-16 hole. And suddenly they were out of it. Cornerback Quentin Jammer was called for a holding penalty on an incomplete pass, and Dallas had a first down and new life at the 32.

    The Cowboys kept moving and scored the winner on a 2-yard pass play involving two of Coach Bill Parcells' former doghouse residents from teams past -- ex-New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe to ex-New York Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

    But the Chargers weren't much interested in Dallas' heartwarming redemption tales. They had a loss to explain.

    "It could have gone either way," Jammer said of his critical holding call. He was already living dangerously in the defensive backfield. He was called for pass interference on a third-and-9 earlier in the fourth quarter, keeping another Cowboys drive briefly alive.

    There was no shortage of Chargers admitting to their miscues.

    Rookie pass rusher Luis Castillo was called for roughing the passer in the third quarter on a third-and-long play that was collapsing around Bledsoe at the Dallas 10-yard line. Castillo's unnecessary whack on Bledsoe's head revived an 80-yard drive that tied the score at 21.

    Castillo called it a "big rookie mistake," even though he said he was trying to swat the ball, not Bledsoe's coconut.

    "I want to apologize for it," he said.

    Obviously it was one of many goofs magnified by the defeat.

    "We made some mistakes, but you have to come back from your mistakes," Jammer said. "We beat ourselves."

    Brees accepted responsibility for the four incomplete passes at the end of the game, although he was never in a position to stand up, take aim and fire from the pocket. The Cowboys blitzed each play and forced him to scramble and/or sling it quickly.

    "We had four shots and I needed to come through," Brees said. "So if you're going to blame it on somebody, go ahead and put it on me."

    Again, there was more to go around -- and up. It would have been nice if the Chargers had one more option at the end -- namely tight end Gates, last year's big-play monster. But a summertime contract dispute ended with the Chargers assigning Gates a non-roster spot that kept him from playing Game One.

    "We win the game and that would not even be brought up," said Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who refused to be sucked into the discussion.

    "We had enough people out there that if they play the way they are capable of playing -- offense, defense, kicking game -- then we can win the game."

    In the end there was nothing to do but try to forget and move on. There are the Broncos to worry about next week in Denver.

    Even receiver Eric Parker wasn't much interested in rehashing his leaping, clutch, fourth-down catch with 42 seconds left that gave San Diego a chance to win at the Dallas 7.

    "Drew just threw it up," he said, shrugging off the 33-yard play. "You've got to make a play.

    "We'll get another chance next week. We'll come back and be spectacular."

    Spectacular is good, too, but smarter might work even better.

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