When the Chargers win, it’s wonderful.
When the Chargers lose, it’s often weird and soul-crushing.
If you’re a Charger fan, you know what I mean. This is a franchise that has found unbelievable ways to lose games. Close games never seem to go the Chargers’ way. Instant replay calls? Never. What other franchise has had three game-changing replay calls go against them at the end of a game? Three. Separate. Calls.
The Chargers are the only team in NFL history to be hurt by the fact that replay equipment wasn’t turned on in time to start the game.
Next time some NFL fanbase says they’ve got it bad, Charger fans pull this out. Here are 10 of the Chargers’ most disappointing losses since 2000. We could have done 20.
10. Chiefs 19, Chargers 7 – 2014 Week 17
With a playoff spot on the line, the Chargers lost to Chase Daniel.
Period. That should be enough.
Chiefs starter Alex Smith was hurt, so in stepped Daniel (now a Charger) to make just his second career start. He threw for 157 yards, but the Chargers couldn’t block the Chiefs’ defensive line and couldn’t capitalize on three red zone trips in the fourth quarter.
9. Chiefs 25, Chargers 20 – 2001 Week 8
Flutie-Mania was alive and well for the Chargers, who were 5-2.
The Chiefs dominated the first half and led 19-0 at the break. Drew Brees came in for Doug Flutie, who had gotten rag-dolled on a sack and suffered a concussion. Brees led a great comeback, putting the Chargers up 20-19. But the Chargers’ defense fell apart.
Tony Richardson scored with 1:26 left, and Brees tried to scramble at the end of the game and threw a forward lateral.
The Chargers wouldn’t win another game that year.
8. Seahawks 27, Chargers 20 – 2010 Week 3
This is just one of those games you just don’t believe.
The Charger special teams were the laughingstock of the NFL. They gave up a kickoff return to Leon Washington early in the game, but Philip Rivers orchestrated a great comeback and threw a TD pass to Antonio Gates with six minutes left.
But the Chargers had to kickoff again.
Somehow, Washington got loose again on the return and went 99 yards for his second score of the day, and this one was the difference.
7. 2017 Weeks 1 & 2
Anthony Lynn is the Chargers coach, and in 2017 the team is in Los Angeles playing home games at the StubHub Center.
The kicker is a rookie: Younghoe Koo.
Week 1 in Denver, Koo drills a 44-yarder on the last play of regulation to send the game to OT. But Broncos coach Vance Joseph called a timeout. Koo’s second attempt is blocked by Broncos Shelby Harris. Chargers lose.
Week 2 at home. In an eerie coincidence, Koo lines up a kick from 44 yards that could beat the Dolphins. He misses it. The pro-Dolphin crowd goes wild. The celebratory cannons are mistakenly shot off.
Two weeks later, Koo gets cut by the Chargers.
In 2022, Koo just signed a five-year $24 million dollar deal with the Falcons after three great seasons.
6. Raiders 23, Chargers 20 – 2015 Week 16
There is a football law that says you never take points off the scoreboard.
It’s ignored. It usually always works out.
Not for the Chargers, though.
Josh Lambo made a 53-yarder with under nine minutes left to put the Bolts ahead of Oakland 20-12, but (current Charger) Khalil Mack was called for holding. Automatic first down for the Chargers.
They take the points off the board. But the drive stalls. Lambo comes out to kick a 48-yarder. He misses.
Oakland goes ahead on a Michael Crabtree catch. Give Lambo credit. He makes a 45-yarder with 55 seconds left, but in OT, Oakland wins it on a field goal.
5. Titans 23, Chargers 20 – 2019 Week 7
The Chargers are driving for the go-ahead score in tight game in Tennessee. Austin Ekeler comes close to scoring on a 15-yard catch and run.
Instant replay says no.
Chargers start inside the Titans 1. They move back five on a false start. They move up five on a Titans pass interference call.
Handoff to Melvin Gordon. It’s called a touchdown.
Instant replay says no.
Handoff to Gordon again. He’s hit. No call by the refs.
Instant replay says it’s a fumble. (Clearly it was).
Three different replay review calls, all against the Chargers.
4. Chiefs 23, Chargers 20 OT – 2011 Week 8
The Chargers were seconds away from setting up a short field goal to beat the Chiefs on Monday Night Football in KC.
All they had to do was take a couple of knees, kick it, and get home.
Then the unthinkable happened. Rivers fumbled the snap with 1:04 left. The Chiefs recovered. The game went to OT. The Chargers won the toss, got the ball, but didn’t move it. Kansas City did. The Chargers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on the most basic movement in football.
3. Broncos 39, Chargers 38 – 2008 Week 2
You don’t want to believe NFL officials are biased, but you remember this game and you just wonder.
The Chargers got hosed on an early fumble call on Chris Chambers because the replay equipment wasn’t set up yet. With under a minute left with the Chargers leading 38-31, Denver quarterback (and future reality TV star) Jay Cutler clearly fumbles as he goes to throw the ball inside the Chargers 10. Somehow, the ball is ruled a fumble. Somehow, even though the Chargers recovered it, it’s still the Broncos ball.
Referee Ed Hochuli copped on live TV to the mistake, saying it should have been a fumble.
Cutler threw a TD pass two plays later and then the Broncos went for two and got it for the win.
2. Ravens 16, Chargers 13, OT – 2012 Week 12
For various reasons (just Google it), this is not what Ray Rice is most remembered for in his NFL career.
Charger fans will never forget him.
Leading the Ravens 13-10 with under two minutes left and facing a fourth-and-29 – yes, I said fourth-and-29 – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco dumped the ball off to Rice.
You could always count on Flacco to make elite decisions.
But Rice wouldn’t be denied. The Charger defense had sagged off. Rice got to midfield, cut all the way across the field, got a dirty block and then was stopped close to the first down line.
The refs had moved the chains thinking it was a first down, but then when the Chargers challenged the spot, they had to reset the chains!
Rice looked a yard short, but in all the commotion, it was ruled a first down.
The game goes to OT. Ravens win. Chargers coach Norv Turner was canned at the end of the year. It was the longest fourth down conversion in the NFL in 11 years.
1. Patriots 24, Chargers 21 – 2006 Divisional Round
You know how they tell defensive backs late in games to ‘just get down’ after an interception. This game is why.
The 2006 San Diego Chargers could lay claim to the title of the best team to never win a Super Bowl. This was a team in its prime with a young Rivers, Tomlinson and a great defense led by Shawne Merriman.
Already the world was suffering from Patriots Fatigue. New England came to take on the top-seeded Chargers, and it looked like the torch was being passed.
The Chargers led 21-13 with six minutes left. Tom Brady was picked off by Marlon McCree. It should be over. But McCree tries to run, Patriots uber-pest Troy Brown pokes the ball away and (salt in the wound) former Charger Reche Caldwell gets it back for New England.
Don’t give Brady extra chances.
The Patriots score, go for two, get it, to tie the game. Then kick a field goal to go up 24-21. Rivers drives the Chargers down in final seconds for a Nate Kaeding 54-yard attempt. He misses. Despite going 14-2, the Chargers fire Coach Marty Schottenheimer a month later.
The entire history of the NFL might be different if McCree had just gone down.