Hey Chargers, You Gotta Have It
By: Andy Bishop
A once popular Pepsi ad campaign in the early ‘90s stated, “Gotta Have It.”
This phrase entered my mind as the Chargers faced a 24-21 deficit in the final minute of Sunday’s game against the Redskins. They had three opportunities inside Washington’s one-yard line to find the end zone and take the lead.
My precious Lightning Bolts, you must take advantage of this opportunity, I thought to myself. You are 4-3 with Denver coming to town (and off its bye) next week. 5-3 sounds so much more in tune than 4-4. You gotta have it.
You trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter. You’re quarterback has led you on this late 91 and one-third yard drive, which included a key fourth-down conversion. You may not even deserve to be here, but the fact is you are here. Gotta have it!
You’ve got three plays and two timeouts to work with in the remaining 29 seconds. All you need is two feet. You are on the doorstep, at the end of your date, and it is oh so obvious she wants you to go in for the kill. All you have to do is go 90 percent of the way Albert Brennaman. She’ll do the rest. GOTTA HAVE IT!
But no, you do half that Albert, or should I say head coach Mike McCoy. The one running play you try goes to your smallest of four running backs. Then you go with two passing plays so low percentage that Nate Kaeding’s playoff FG success rate gets a good laugh.
You decided to not lose the game, instead of playing to win the game. For some reason you don’t want to make out with Allegra Cole, but with your sister? You went for the safe play, sending it into overtime. The 50/50 coin toss went the way of Washington and it ran through your defense as it had done for a good chunk of the day. 10 plays, 78 yards and a touchdown.
30-24 Redskins. Game over. Dagger in my gut.
Now at an even 4-4 San Diego faces Denver at home before going on the road back-to-back weeks against Miami and Kansas City. Not a single favorable matchup amongst those. The Chargers will likely be the underdog in all of them. They could have really used a win in Washington.
Now I’m not going to sit here and act like the season is over. Indeed, it is easy to dog on the Chargers in retrospect. And I know these guys—coaches and players—work their tails off both during and in preparation of these games. But can you give me a bigger sense of urgency? Can you realize the situation a little more?
When describing the last stages of Sunday’s game in its recap the Associated Press noted that the Chargers “settled for overtime, tying the game on a 19-yard field goal by Nick Novak with 3 seconds on the clock.”
It couldn’t have used a better word: settled. The Chargers clearly can’t do that going forward. When you have an imperfect team that has the potential to be really good, you have to take advantage of opportunities like we saw at the end of Sunday’s game.
The remaining games will continue to come down to a few keys plays where you have to make decisions. You cannot settle. You have to take risks if want to be a playoff team. You gotta have it.