Trailing 31-26 with just one second remaining, Chargers rookie quarterback (and potential breakout star) Justin Herbert floated a perfect fade route to backup tight end Donald Parham, Jr.

Parham hauled it in, too, and began celebrating immediately.

Except, sadly, it wasn’t complete. It wasn’t even really close, with the right angle:

Scoring an apparent last-second touchdown, only to have it taken away via replay review and the game end that way, has to be one of the more brutal ways to lose a game. Also, shout out to Parham, who had to be one of the only people who knew he didn’t actually catch the ball but celebrated as if he’d won the game anyway.

It’s not the only time the Chargers have lost in heartbreaking fashion this year. It’s not even the only time they’ve done it on the final play thanks to a slight error; against Carolina, they had a hook and ladder opportunity set up to perfection, only for this to happen.

So, while losing a game like that has to be, well, horrible, there’s still a lot of positives for Los Angeles. Herbert is chief among them; he was 28/42 for 326 yards and two touchdowns, and came that close to throwing a third one. (He came very close on the play before that, too.)

This was always going to be a rebuilding year for the Chargers, but being very competitive and identifying a potential franchise quarterback is a hell of an important step. Plus, if you’re not going to make the playoffs anyway, losing games like this can only help from one perspective.

They could very well be poised to take a huge step forward next season, and while the Chiefs look like they’re going to be tough for years to come in the AFC West, that doesn’t mean the Chargers can’t push them. Thanks to Herbert’s development, they might be able to do that sooner than anyone expected.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.