Things could not have gone worse for the Jacksonville Jaguars at the beginning Saturday’s Wild Card Game. Trevor Lawrence couldn’t stop throwing interceptions and the team fell behind 27-0 late in the first half. They came back to win 31-30. But of course, if one team is celebrating a monumental collapse, another is commiserating after an equally monumental collapse. In this case, that team is the Los Angeles Chargers.
While the Chargers had a commanding lead throughout the first half, there was a sense that things could have been better. A turnover deep in Jacksonville territory netted only a field goal. On the one Jaguars first-quarter possession that didn’t end in a Trevor Lawrence interception, the Chargers forced a three-and-out and started just shy of midfield. They didn’t score or even pick up a first down.
That, combined with Jacksonville’s touchdown just before halftime and another on its first possession of the second half, left a comeback feeling plausible.
The Chargers couldn’t get out of their own way. Cameron Dicker missed a short field goal. When the Jaguars scored a touchdown, Los Angeles’ Joey Bosa slammed his helmet to the ground, feeling a false start should have been charged. With that, the Jaguars applied the penalty on the conversion, moving the ball to the one-yard line and went for a two-point conversion. It worked, and with it, Jacksonville trailed by only two.
That was especially relevant minutes later, when the Jags got the ball again, moved into field goal range and called on Riley Patterson to try a 36-yard kick as time expired. It went through, giving Jacksonville an improbable win.
Great Jaguars comeback or amazing Chargers choke? Yes. pic.twitter.com/QuQYArRfjd
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) January 15, 2023
The Chargers have long had a reputation for choking big games away. Saturday night’s meltdown did nothing to change that.
“Of all the heartbreaking, awful, soul crushing Chargers moments, this has to be the absolute worst heartbreaking, awful, soul crushing Chargers moment of them all,” Rich Eisen of the NFL Network said.
Former NFL receiver Torrey Smith compared this loss unfavorably to the blowout TCU experienced against Georgia in the CFP National Championship Game. “I’d rather lose like TCU than lose like the Chargers. My heart hurts thinking about that one.”
Of all the heartbreaking, awful, soul crushing Chargers moments, this has to be the absolute worst heartbreaking, awful, soul crushing Chargers moment of them all.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 15, 2023
Of course, there were some other comparisons drawn with another NFL franchise known for struggling to close games out.
NFL Memes tweeted a photo of the Atlanta Falcons logo in Chargers colors with the caption, “BREAKING: Chargers new logo.”
Coley Mick of Underdog Fantasy had a similar thought, tweeting an X-Ray with the Falcons logo, saying “Just got the Chargers X-ray back.”
BREAKING: Chargers unveil new logo pic.twitter.com/RMC3gAn6ZA
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) January 15, 2023
Just got the Chargers X-ray back pic.twitter.com/ffeKb6LMt5
— Ol’ Saint Mick (@ColeyMick) January 15, 2023
Of course, a loss like this brings coach Brandon Staley’s job stability into question. He was already being heavily criticized for playing Mike Williams (who was subsequently hurt) in a meaningless Week 18 game. Saturday’s loss only increased the calls for his job, with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith already having one coach in mind.
“Congratulations @SeanPayton,” Smith said. “Welcome to Los Angeles as the new coach is the @chargers . There is no way Brandon Staley can keep his job after blowing this lead. There’s no coming back from this for him!”
Congratulations @SeanPayton. Welcome to Los Angeles as the new coach is the @chargers. There is no way Brandon Staley can keep his job after blowing this lead. There’s no coming back from this for him!
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 15, 2023