CARSON, Calif. — Different city, but the same story for the San Diego-turned-Los Angeles Chargers.
The Chargers fell to 0-3 on Sunday, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 24-10 after turnovers put them in an early 14-point hole from which they never recovered.
“You might say we’re the same ‘ol Chargers, and right now we are,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “Until we prove differently we are. So we’ve got to go back to work, and we’ve got to get better. The coaches and players.”
The Chargers lost 24-21 to the Denver Broncos in the season opener when a potential game-tying field goal was blocked with 1 second left. Last week, a 54-yard field goal with 1:10 to play sent them to a 19-17 defeat to the Miami Dolphins.
This time, the Chargers’ first two possessions ended in Phillip Rivers throwing interceptions, giving the Chiefs a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game, before Rivers had a single completion to a teammate.
“It was tough, to spot a good football team like that 14 points early, with the turnovers we had,” Lynn said.
Rivers finished 20 of 40 for 237 yards and three interceptions. He could have thrown five, had Marcus Peters dropped an easy one in the third quarter, and what was initially ruled an interception by Daniel Sorensen early in the fourth was overturned by replay.
“It was a rough day,” Rivers said. “You hate be be the guy that let’s down the group.”
The Chargers didn’t fold completely, however, as they got within a touchdown on Melvin Gordon’s scoring run late in the first quarter, and a 29-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo on the last play of the first half.
“It was a 17-10 game at the half, and I’d played terrible,” Rivers said. “We were right there in the game, thanks to the defense and the guys hanging in there. We were right there in the game and had multiple opportunities.
The Chargers’ best opportunity to draw even came after the first play of the fourth quarter. On a fourth-and-14 at their own 39, the Chiefs tried a fake punt only to see Albert Wilson thrown for a 4-yard loss.
With a first-and-10 at the Chiefs 35, a pair of runs and an incomplete pass failed to yield a single yard.
“Obviously after the fake punt that was a terrible three-and-out,” Rivers said. “We had other opportunitites to make it a 17-all game, but we just couldn’t put it together.”
The Chargers’ six second-half possession went punt, punt, turn the ball over on downs, punt, punt, before time ran out.
“A quarterback is going to have a couple of bad throws, a couple of bad plays,” Lynn said. “That’s going to happen over the course of a season. As an offense, we have to overcome it.”
Gordon suffered a knee injury late in the second quarter after rolling up 78 yards and a touchdown on 15 first-half carries. He gained just four yards on two carries after the injury.
“He stayed in at halftime for a little while,” Lynn said. “He came back out, he was cold. He eventually worked himself back into the game, but the knee did slow him down some.”
Despite Sunday’s disappointment, Rivers thought there were positives to take from from the losing effort.
“I sure hope Melvin is OK, because he ran the heck out of the ball,” Rivers said. “I thought he ran really good. I thought the guys up front battled really good. That’s a good pass rush. We did a good job with the protection.”
After allowing the Chiefs scoring drives of 43 and 34 on their first two possessions, the Chargers held Kansas City to 164 yards and 13 first downs before Kareem Hunt broke free for a 69-yard scoring run in the final minutes.
“I thought the defense kept us in the game,” Lynn said. “They played hard. Melvin Ingram, everytime I was turning around, he was getting a sack. I love his energy, his passion on the sidelines.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the Chargers, who play their third consecutive home game next Sunday, facing the Philadelphia Eagles (2-1), are not dead yet.
“”They’re 0-3 but they’re not out of it,” Reid said. “It’s hard to win in this league, and Anthony (Lynn) has them playing hard and they can get back into this. They’re not out it.”
Lynn agreed, saying, ” I feel like this group has a lot of character. This group comes to work everyday, and they work hard. I just know from my personal experience when you do that each and every day and every week eventually it’s going to turn around. Not next year, but this year.”
Not if they’re the same ‘ol Chargers.