The Chargers started this game as hot as any season I can remember, scoring three touchdowns in three drives to start the game. The team was balanced and was looking like a well oiled machine moving the chains with ease, and Melvin Gordon was a man on a mission scoring two rushing touchdowns on the first two drives. Keenan Allen was doing what he does, making defensive rookie of the year Marcus Peters look like a rookie, and had 6 catches for 63 yards. The Chargers led 21-3, and not only looked like they would run away with the game but possibly win the division.
Then late in the second quarter Keenan Allen went crumpling to the ground on a non-contact injury. Even though the Chargers had a huge lead, the game never felt safe once Keenan Allen was carted off the field crying, and being consoled by his teammates on his way to the locker room.
The lead wasn’t safe as the Chiefs outscored the Chargers 24 to 6 in regulation, after Allen’s injury, to send the game to overtime. Once they got there, the Chargers guessed wrong on the coin toss and never even touched the ball. Alex Smith led a ten play, 75 yard drive capping it off with his legs, on a two yard, 3rd down quarterback keeper to seal the victory.
There are many things you could point to for why the team self-destructed, whether it was Josh Lambo’s missed field goal with 11:25 remaining, or the offense playing ultra conservative and scoring only three points in the second half and abandoning the running game. Or maybe it was the defense allowing the Chiefs to score on four consecutive drives to end the game. Even the special teams has to take fault as rookie punter Drew Kaser struggled all game, averaging only 35.6 yards per attempt. Then when the Chargers needed to pin Kansas City back, ahead by seven with less than two minutes to play, he managed only a 17 yard punt to give the Chiefs prime position to tie the game.
In the end it doesn’t really matter. The Chargers did what they did 5 times last year, blew a fourth quarter lead. There is plenty of blame to be shared, but no-one will take more heat than Mike McCoy, who made several questionable decisions down the stretch, and his seat suddenly went from warm, to uncomfortably hot in the first week.
Moving forward San Diego’s coaching staff will have to figure out what do with its new look offense with no Keenan Allen, who they fear has a torn ACL injury. They were never able to find a rhythm without Allen last year, but they hope the additions of Travis Benjamin and Hunter Henry can pick up the slack in the passing game. One thing for sure, the Chargers will need to rely heavily on Melvin Gordon to keep this offense formidable, with a less than stellar receiving corps.
The Chargers play next on Sunday September 18th against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm stadium at 1:25 pm Pacific Time.
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