Sunday, January 31, 2010
For the Chargers it's the same old story of what if.
Then I thought about their postseason history,since I've been a football fan.I'm a fan of my hometown Detroit Lions.Don't laugh,I know the jokes are coming.But I've always had a soft spot for the Chargers.I don't know why.Maybe it was the lightning bolt uniforms that reeled me in.Or maybe that the Oakland Raiders,who were notoriously dirty back then, always got over on the Chargers(the holy roller game and the 55-21 Monday night massacre come to mind).They always seemed to have a good regular season,only to come up short in the playoffs.Here's a rundown of the Charger playoff misery that their fans had to endure.I'm a Lions fan so I more than feel your pain.
1979-The Chargers finally breakthrough the death grip the Raiders had on the AFC West and win the division.They get a home game against the Earl Campbell led Houston Oilers.But the Oilers were without their starting quarterback,Dan Pastorini.They trot out Gifford Nielsen and the Chargers lost a 14-10 third quarter lead,losing 17-14 on a 47 yard touchdown pass to Mike Renfro.The first of many disappointments.
1980-The Chargers win the AFC West again.Once again they get a home game as they draw a tough Buffalo Bills team.The Bills jump out to a 14-3 lead,but the Chargers storm back with 17 in the second half to win 20-17.Having home field advantage against th wild card Raiders should have been enough to catapult them to their first super bowl berth.The Raiders,led by Jim Plunkett,who was backing up Dan Pastorini(this guy must have been haunting the Chargers back then),came into Jack Murphy Stadium and jumped the Chargers to the tune of 28-7.Once again the Chargers mount a comeback,only to fall short 34-27.Two weeks later they watch the rival Raiders celebrate a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 15.Once again the Raiders get over on the Chargers.
1981-This was the year it was supposed to come together for the Chargers.They rolled into the 1981 season as one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl.Then the rest of the league figured something out.The Chargers for all their aerial antics,couldn't stop anyone on defense.Another thing was that no one counted on the Cincinnati Bengals coming out of nowhere to be the class of the AFC.1981 was a slight disappointment.They won the AFC West for the third year in a row.But there were no home games for the Chargers to fall back on.They went to Miami to battle the Dolphins in one of the most epic playoff games of all time.After jumping to a 24-0 lead,they let the Dolphins back in it to close the gap to 24-17 at the half.Both teams traded punches and wound up being tied at 38 at the end of regulation.Kellen Winslow blocked a Miami field goal attempt that would've won it for the Dolphins.Both exchanged missed field goals in overtime.Then Rolf Bernirschke nailed a 29 yarder that earned them a trip to Cincinnati.They would face a Bengals team,that whacked them 40-17 earlier that season,but had a chance to avenge the loss.One problem.It was too cold.Known as the Freezer Bowl,it was played in -59 degree wind chill.-9 degrees air temperature.Going from 88 degree heat and humidity to extreme cold was too much for the California boys.Plus I always believed that the Miami game took a lot out of them(remember Winslow being carried off the field?).They wound up losing 27-7 and waiting until next year.
1982-In a strike shortned season the Chargers finished 6-3 and earned a first round game against the Steelers, who were a little past the glory days.Being on the road had always been a trouble spot for the Chargers back then.It showed as the Steelers ran out to a 28-17 lead.The Chargers,led by Dan Fouts,made a fourth quarter comeback to notch a 31-28 victory.The win set up a rematch with Miami.The Chargers were destroyed in the "epic" rematch,34-13,once again exposing a poor defense.They wouldn't return to the playoffs for 10 years and one of the best teams in NFL history never made it to a Super Bowl.
1992-After 10 years away from the postseason the Chargers rebounded from an 0-4 start to win the AFC West.They came in with a bang pitching a 17-0 shutout over the Kansas City Chiefs.Once again they end up in Miami and once again were dominated, losing 31-0.Overall,not much was expected from this team,so not a lot of disappointment as there was in past years.
1994-Finally,a breakthrough!They win the AFC West once again.This time they get the Dolphins at home.After falling behind 21-6,they Chargers dominate the second half and win 22-21.They get a shot on the road against the favored Pittsburgh Steelers.The Steelers looked like they would be headed to the big game after being staked to a 13-3 lead in the third quarter.Quarterback Stan Humphries led the team to two fourth quarter touchdowns and a 17-13 win.That would get them their first AFC championship and trip to the Super Bowl.Going against a heavily favored San Francisco 49ers squad,the Chargers were outmatched from the start and lost 49-26.
1995-The Chargers returned to the playoffs to defend their AFC title as a wild card entrant.Playing at home against the Indianapolis Colts,this was supposed to be a win for the home team.The Colts had other ideas.Led by running back Zack Crockett(who?),the Colts ran away from the Chargers for a 35-20 win.This was a disappointing finish to the season since so much was expected coming off an AFC championship season.
2004-The Chargers return to the playoffs after a 9 year drought.They grab another AFC West crown and get a home game against the New York Jets.Falling behind 17-7 the Chargers tie the game only to miss a field goal attempt that would've won the game.They fall 20-17 in overtime to start the 2000's string of playoff misery that mirrored the late 70's and early 1980's.
2006-The Chargers entered the playoffs with home field advantage throughout.That didn't seem to matter to the defending champion New England Patriots.After being ahead 21-13,Tom Brady led the Patriots to a 24-21 win that was frustrating on many levels,from the fans,players,and coaches.After this latest heartbreak,Marty Schottenheimer was shown the door and dismissed from his head coaching duties.They brought in Norv Turner to see if he could get the job done.
2007-The Chargers are the AFC West champs and face the Tennessee Titans and claim a 17-6 win.Earning a shot against the favored defending champion Indianapolis Colts on the road.They go toe to toe with the champs before getting the ko in a 28-24 win.That would get them a shot at avenging the loss to the New England Patriots.With star running back LaDanian Tomlinson sitting out most of the game the Chargers fall one game short of the Super Bowl,falling 21-12.
2008-Although they won the AFC West,the Chargers underachieved and finished with an 8-8 record.They somehow manage a home game against the Indianapolis Colts.After being behind most of the game,they manage to tie it with a last second field goal.They take the overtime kickoff and drive for the winning touchdown.They go on to play the Steelers and take an early lead.After that the Steelers dominate the rest of the way for a 35-24 win that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
2009-Present day.The Chargers run away with the AFC West title.They're favored against the wild card New York Jets at home.Once again the Chargers blow a shot at a possible Super Bowl and fall 17-14 to the Jets.This would mark the latest disappointment in the playoff history of the San Diego Chargers.
They've always been close,right at the doorstep of greatness.Somehow they always manage to come up short when it matters most.This seems to be when they have some of the best players in the NFL and can't come up big.AFC West titles seem to be the most this team can garner.