Chargers Utterly Inept in Loss to Jaguars

Given a multitude of chances the Bolts find a way to lose

For 58 minutes the Chargers and Jaguars played a fairly pedestrian football game. Then they threw that pedestrian football game into a blender with the Tasmanian Devil, a bucket of hot sauce, and a bottle of dish soap.

The final two minutes of the game featured three turnovers, a defensive touchdown that was called off, and a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that drastically altered field position. And that was all BEFORE former Chargers kicker Josh Lambo made a game-tying field goal to force overtime and a game-winning field goal in OT to give the Jags a crazy 20-17 win over the Bolts.

The Jaguars scored first thanks to a little strategery. In the first quarter Jacksonville faked a punt and backup running back Corey Grant, perhaps inspired by his alma-mater Auburn’s 40-17 shellacking of then-top-ranked Georgia on Saturday, ran 56 yards for a touchdown. With that one carry, his only of the day, Grant was the game’s leading rusher since Melvin Gordon and Leonard Fournette, the two first-round draft picks, combined for 60 yards on 33 carries.

The extra point attempt by Lambo was blocked so the Jags were up 6-0. The Chargers took the lead in the 2nd quarter on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to running back Austin Ekeler. The rookie also caught a TD pass in the 3rd quarter from 22 yards out. Ekeler was the Chargers’ leading rusher and receiver on Sunday.

Jacksonville tied it up when Blake Bortles hit Marqise Lee for a 6-yard score, then found Lee again on the 2-point conversion try to even it at 14-14. In the 4th quarter Nick Novak, who was released to make room for Lambo who was released to make room for Younghoe Koo who was released to make room for Novak, nailed a 50-yard field goal to put the Bolts up 17-14.

And that leads us to … the final two minutes.

Bortles tried to force a pass into coverage; it was tipped and picked off by safety Tre Boston. That looked like it was going to seal it for the Chargers. But on the very next play Ekeler fumbled. Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson scooped it up and ran into the end zone for a touchdown that looked like it was going to seal it for the Jags. But after review the officials ruled he was down by contact so Jacksonville had it at the Chargers 36 yard line.

A defensive pass interference penalty on Trevor Williams moved the Jags to the 14-yard-line but then Lee was called for taunting Boston after a collision in the end zone. Moved back 15 yards, Bortles threw an indescribably awful pass. It was like The Phantom Menace of passes. He over-threw everyone and hit Boston in the hands for another interception that looked like it was going to seal it for the Chargers.

The Bolts ran it three times with Melvin Gordon right into the line to make the Jags burn all their time outs and punter Drew Kaser let loose his latest bad punt, setting the Jags up at their own 48 yard line. On the outskirts of field goal range Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa was called for roughing the passer when he tossed Bortles aside like a giant stuffed animal after the ball had been released. It was by no means a violent move but in today’s NFL it’s going to get a flag every time.

The improved field position helped the Jags move close enough for Lambo to hit from 34 yards and force extra football.

Jacksonville won the toss and punted, pinning the Bolts at the own 10. On 3rd down and 9 Rivers decided to gamble with a deep pass down the sideline to Travis Benjamin, who looked like he had a play on it only to have A.J. Bouye rip it right away from him. Bouye returned it to the Chargers 2-yard-line. Another unsportsmanlike penalty against Jacksonville moved it back 15 yards, still well within Lambo’s range.

Bortles set Lambo up on the left hashmark, which the kicker prefers, and then the Bolts defense was called for a delay of game penalty. That moved the kick up five yards closer, which proved to be huge because safety Adrian Phillips got a hand on this kick, as well, but it had just enough to go through and FINALLY seal it for the Jags. Those extra five yards likely would have made a difference and kept the Chargers alive. Instead they fall to 3-6 with yet another close loss while the Jags improve to 6-3 and stay in first place in the AFC South.

The Chargers return to Carson for their latest Los Angeles road game next week against the Bills.

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