Chargers vs. Titans: Late-game play-calling draws fans’ ire, criticism

The San Diego Chargers suffered a 20-17  loss on Sunday that was reminiscent of Week 1’s poor finish against the Houston Texans. 

After a fundamentally sound start to the game that saw the Bolts lead by a touchdown through most of game, things went south. 

The Bolts looked like they were going to complete another difficult road win for the second straight week until an ugly fourth quarter dashed their hopes of proving the cynics wrong. The Titans scored 10 unanswered points in the final frame, and the Bolts seemed to have few answers for them on defense.

Forget the dropped interception by Marcus Gilchrist that would’ve ended the game, or the 34-yard heave by Jake Locker inside the half-minute mark. San Diego had a chance to put the game out of reach by getting more first downs and controlling their own fate. Nine out of 10 Chargers’ plays prior to the Titans final score in the fourth quarter were running plays, and while hindsight is 20-20, the fans have been relentless in their criticism: 




It’s understandable that a fan base that saw Marty Schottenheimer call games conservatively for years, often to the detriment of the team, and Norv Turner succumb to the same mistakes would be livid after watching the Bolts lose a much-needed game in this fashion.

But when the Chargers put the ball in Titans quarterback Jake Locker’s hands with 2:05 remaining deep in their own territory, head coach Mike McCoy was playing the percentages, which were deeply in San Diego’s favor. 

He eluded to that in his post-game comments (As transcribed via

 “It comes down to the end of the game where we’ve got to make a play, and they made one more play than we did.  So give them the credit where it’s deserved.  We put them in a situation, and we didn’t finish the game.  So we’ve got to improve there.”

In other words, the coaching staff, despite popular opinion, gave the Chargers every chance to close out the game, and the players didn’t execute. In the NFL, that’s all that matters. 

Photo Credit: Rick Shultz / Getty Images 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His credits include Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report, among others.


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