The Los Angeles Chargers’ overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday continued a frustrating trend.
The Bolts own a 21-10 record when holding a lead at any point in the fourth quarter with Justin Herbert at the helm, which is the most such losses in the NFL since the 2020 season, according to NFL Research.
Sunday’s result also marked the fourth consecutive one-score defeat for L.A. dating back to last season, including the wild-card loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in which the Chargers held a 27-0 lead late into the second quarter.
Head coach Brandon Staley scoffed at any idea of last year’s playoff defeat affecting his team in 2023.
“I’m not worried about the Jacksonville loss — the Jacksonville loss hasn’t carried onto the season whatsoever,” Staley said during his post-game press conference when a reporter brought up the game. “If you’ve seen our training camp or you’ve seen the way we’ve played in the first two games, it hasn’t had an impact on our team whatsoever. Our team is connected, our team has played its heart out in two games, and we’ve lost two tough games. It has nothing to do with the Jacksonville game and if you ask anyone in our locker room, it has nothing to do with the Jacksonville game. And that’s just the truth.
“It’s a convenient storyline for you and for everybody else, but it’s not the truth. We’ve lost two tough games but the guys in that locker room, the men in that locker room they are finishers and they have what it takes and we’re excited to prove ourselves.”
The opportunity was there for the Chargers to turn around the late-game trend on Sunday.
Down three points and with 2:22 to play, Herbert drove the Chargers down field with relative ease, completing six of seven passes to get in the red zone and in full control with a ticking clock and all three timeouts from the 25-yard line. But after two short completions the Chargers were faced with a third-and-3 from the 7-yard line, and Titans pass rusher Harold Landry ruined any thought of a go-ahead touchdown with an 8-yard sack of Herbert, which forced L.A. to settle for a chip-shot field goal to tie with one timeout unused.
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The Chargers went three-and-out after three straight incompletions by Herbert to open overtime, and an eight-play, 38-yard drive by the Titans was all they needed to set up Nick Folk for a 41-yard game-winning kick.
The late-game sequence in regulation reflected the overall inefficiency by the Chargers on Sunday. In five red-zone appearances against Tennessee, the Chargers hit paydirt just twice. In fact, Cameron Dicker’s game-tying 33-yarder was actually his longest of the afternoon (27, 30). Also aiding their faulty outing, the Chargers were only able to convert first downs on two of 14 third-down attempts (though they converted all three fourth-down attempts). All four penalties by L.A. also happened in the second half, two of which were crucial to the Titans’ third-quarter scoring drive to take their first lead of the game.
On a day when the Chargers had no real problem moving the ball against a very good Titans defense sans Austin Ekeler, frustrations were mounting after their latest close loss.
“We just lost a game in overtime — how do you think the mood is?” Staley said of his locker room.
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