'You Can't Explain This Kind of Disappointment'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Don Boomer/North County Times
    Chargers fans are stunned after the team lost 17-14 to the New York Jets at Qualcomm on Sunday.

    Unfortunately, LT and the Chargers are free next Sunday.

    Mistakes made against the New York Jets and their rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez ended the Chargers' winning streak on Sunday, once again dashing their hopes for a Super Bowl.

    On the way to their 17-14 loss at Qualcomm, the normally consistent Nate Kaeding, who has hit 69 field goal attempts in a row -- missed three, QB Phillip Rivers and his stable of receivers never really ignited, and running back LaDainian Tomlinson ran for a very quiet 24 yards.

    It's not known exactly how many of the 69,498 fans at the game were disapppointed, but it certainly was the majority of them.

    "You can't explain this kind of disappointment," Tomlinson said after the game. "You had it all thought out on how it was supposed to go, and this was the best shot we had. To lose this game today, I'm at a loss of words. No one expected to lose tonight."

    Tomlinson didn't have an answer when asked if Sunday was his last game in San Diego, other than to say he had enjoyed his run as a Bolt.

    Rivers was more pragmatic in his responses.

    "There's only one team happy at the end," Rivers said. "Unless you win it all, it eventually ends like this, either this week or next week or at the Super Bowl. Obviously, you want to be the team standing at the top, but for 31 teams, it ends like this."

    Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, was even more frank.

    "I've been here seven seasons and the same thing happens every year," Cooper conceded.

    Sadly for Chargers fans, they are only too aware of it ending like this. In 2006, the Bolts lost the playoff opener to New England, then gave up their hopes the following year when the Patriots beat them again. Last year, the won in the first round, but lost to Pittsburgh, who won it all.

    Oh, and the Jets? It's not their first time crushing playoff dreams in San Diego. They knocked the Bolts out in 2004, too. The closest the Chargers have ever come to taking it all was in 2004, when the 49ers beat the Bolts 49-26 in San Diego's only Super Bowl appearance.

    The Jets will play the Colts in Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game next week.