Confusion set in Sunday as the seconds steadily dripped away.
After hurrying to the line of scrimmage, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers moved his tight end here, his wide receiver and running back there, took a short pause and then dinked and dunked the day away.
From the 11-point halftime lead to a totally out-of-sync two-minute drive, the Chargers gave New Jersey its most befuddling ending since The Sopranos, as the offense collapsed with two fourth-quarter interceptions, which the New York Jets converted into 10 points, and the referees whistled the defense deaf in a 27-21 loss at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
Granted, for the first time in about forever, the Chargers don't have a gray "slow start" cloud hanging over their head like the cartoon character who just can't escape the rain.
And sure, the Chargers, at 4-1 in October, were not desperate for this win, however boosting as they take to the teeth of their schedule.
But how about some desperation? How about less dilly-dallying in a hurry-up situation? Executing against the stout Jets secondary — much less without wide receiver Malcom Floyd, forced out with a hip injury — is no easy feat, but the final sequence of two completions for 7 yards and two tosses out of bounds shouldn't have been so difficult.
Tight end Randy McMichael called the loss "embarrassing" and says to place all blame on the Chargers.
Asked what the team learned from it, Rivers began his answer with a head shake.
"I don't know, and I don't know if it matters," said Rivers, who hadn't thrown an interception in 100 fourth-quarter passes before Darrelle Revis caught a tipped ball and Kyle Wilson undercut a route over the middle.
"I don't know if it matters what we learned, other than something to fill (Monday) morning's news. It doesn't matter. All I heard for six months was the regular season didn't matter. Now, everyone wants to know what's the matter. We're 4-2, and we've been worse. We've been worse. Hey, we had a chance to win this game. We didn't. But the ball is going to get kicked off on Monday night in Kansas City, whether we had won it or lost it."
The Chargers, penalized 13 times for 95 yards, proved this season they are capable of a fast start.
A new question to answer: Can they imitate urgency and win without a cloud overhead?