What's the old Bill Parcells saying? "You are what your record says you are" ? If that's the case, then the L.A. Chargers are exactly what their record says, a very bad 4-8 team going absolutely nowhere.
But then again (extreme Bills Simmons voice), are we sure the Chargers are bad? Yes, they're four games below .500 and yes, they're still starting an aging, former franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers who appears to be squeezing the very last drop of juice he has left. But this same L.A. team just won a first-round playoff game a season ago, and it's been in all 12 games it's played in to the very end in 2019. The defense, which features a pair of elite pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III, is still stout, ranking fourth in the league in yards allowed per game. On offense they've got weapons galore in Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, plus a top tight end in Hunter Henry who replaced a franchise legend in Antonio Gates. They should be, as the kids say, "a wagon."
And yet, the Chargers are 4-8, with all eight losses coming in excruciating fashion. We said last week that the Detroit Lions were arguably the worst team to have to root for, but the Chargers might have the edge. Sunday at Mile High was perhaps the most brutal defeat of the season, one final nail in the coffin. With 14 seconds remaining, L.A. Kicker Michael Badgley hit a 46-yarder to tie the game at 20-20, all but forcing overtime. After the kickoff, the Denver Broncos offense came onto the field with nine seconds left and set up as if it was going to run a play, rather than kneel down and settle for OT. Rookie quarterback Drew Lock did indeed run a play, and it went as poorly as it possibly could have for the Bolts. Watch as Lock chucks it up hoping fo one thing: a bogus pass interference call.
As you can see, the referee promptly tossed a yellow hanky, almost as if he was ready to do so before the play even started. Here's a better angle of the supposed "PI," AKA Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton purposely running into Chargers corner Casey Hayward hoping for a call:
Contact? Absolutely. No one's debating that. But it's clearly Sutton who initiates the contact, while Hayward gets his head around in time and is going for the ball just like Sutton. The beauty of the NFL is that this is a spot foul, making it a 37-yard penalty that put Denver in field goal range, which was literally the only reason for running a play from your own 28-yard line with nine seconds left. It set up a 53-yard game winner, a chip shot for Brandon McManus at Mile High:
Since a mid-season two-game win streak, L.A. has now lost three straight games in the final minute, two of those by three points or less. Making this rough stretch worse is the fact that the fanbase could be witnessing the end of Rivers, who coach Anthony Lynn was reportedly considering replacing with Tyrod Taylor had he struggled in Denver on Sunday. His fourth quarter heroics may have bought him until the end of the season, but that could be it for No. 17, at least as a Charger. After that L.A. will move on to a new QB, a new city, a new stadium and, hopefully for Chargers fans, a new style of play that doesn't include losing in absurd fashion. For now, as the many NFL voices of Twitter pointed out, the Bolts are the GOAT of painful Ls: