The theme of the Chargers 2016 season seems to be finding new ways to lose. This week, rookie punter Drew Kaser gets the blame as he botched a seemingly perfect snap on the Chargers game-tying field goal attempt, sealing a 31-34 loss.
It’s not totally on Kaser because many thought that the Chargers would go for it instead, considering Mike McCoy’s job was on the line, and they needed only one yard for the first down. The conservative approach is one of the main things San Diego fans loathe, and he had his perfectly justifiable chance to go for the win on Sunday, and it slipped away.
This game started off very sloppy, with both teams turning the ball over their first possession. Brandon Mebane intercepted a rushed Derek Carr throw, giving the ball to the Chargers on the Oakland 30-yard line. On 3rd-and-2 the Philip Rivers found Antonio Gates for the first down, but Gates was stripped of the ball, giving it right back to the Raiders.
The Chargers defense held strong and held Oakland to a field goal, but the offense only was on the field for one play before Rivers was intercepted going deep to Travis Benjamin. After a long return on the pick, San Diego’s defense answered the call again allowing zero yards leading to a missed field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
The Chargers finally found a rhythm on the next drive, moving the ball down the field before capping it off with a 29-yard Tyrell Williams touchdown on a perfect throw over the top.
The Raiders would add two field goals, in part by Joey Bosa getting his first sack of the year, and the Chargers would add a field goal and another interception but would lead at the half 10-9.
The Bolts hit a big play right after halftime when Rivers hit Hunter Henry on a short pass and he showed some speed turning up the field for a gain of 59 yards. Two plays later Melvin Gordon added his seventh touchdown of the season on a screen pass, sprinting in from 18 yards.
After San Diego’s defense allowed a 64-yard touchdown catch by Amari Cooper, the Chargers hit another big play to Tyrell Willams on a 50-yard catch. Melvin Gordon would almost score on the next play but did set up a 1-yard Hunter Henry touchdown reception to take a 24-16 lead.
Oakland would settle for a field goal to cut the lead to five points before the meltdown would begin. On the second play of the following drive, Melvin Gordon would lose a fumble for the second time this season and gave the Raiders the ball on the San Diego 38-yard line. The Chargers would force a fourth down, but the raiders elected to go for it and Michael Crabtree found the end zone, and a two-point conversion made it 27-24 Oakland.
They were not done. The Chargers went three and out, but that was not the worst part. Rookie Drew Kaser appeared to injure himself while kicking the shortest punt I have ever seen, going only 16 yards to the San Diego 32-yard line. The Raiders would capitalize using a questionable pass interference call on Dexter McCoil in the end zone to get the ball on the 1-yard line. They would punch it in easily to extend the lead to ten.
The Chargers would come back and sustain a long drive and once in Oakland territory used a flea flicker type play to hit Travis Benjamin for a big play to the 17-yard line. After three Melvin Gordon runs, Philip Rivers hit Antonio Gates for a 4-yard touchdown to cut the lead to three with 6:21 remaining.
Needing to get off the field, Joey Bosa came up with his second sack of the day, to force a third and long. The Raiders came up two yards short on third down and were forced to punt.
Down by four, the Bolts moved the ball easily never facing a third down until they were already on the Oakland 19-yard line. It was a 3rd-and-2 and Melvin Gordon rushed for only one yard and forced Mike McCoy with a hard decision. He elected to play for the tie, and he paid for it.
After Kaser fumbled the snap, the Chargers were burned again by wasting a timeout early in the half. They were able to stop the Raiders but had to watch precious time tick down as they only had one remaining timeout, and had only eleven seconds left when they got the ball back. They tried a lateral play unsuccessfully and had sealed another blown second-half lead.
The Chargers now have been beaten ten straight times in the AFC West, and are look like a better team than they were in 2015, but the results are looking eerily similar. There have been multiple reports saying that head coach Mike Mccoy’s job status would be linked to how the team performed in weeks five and six, against the Raiders and Broncos.
The Chargers will play the Broncos in primetime this Thursday at 5:25 at Qualcomm, and if the Bolts can’t find a way to win, it could be the last week for Mike McCoy.