Frontrunners Fall Again

San Diego blew another one. This time, the team gave up a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter en route to dropping its first game to the Oakland Raiders in seven years. The loss is disappointing, but not surprising. These are the Chargers; this is what they do.

At first, this game looked like a repeat of San Diego's losses in Kansas City and Seattle. The special teams continued their historically bad play, giving up two blocked punts in the first four minutes, and the Raiders capitalized to take a 12-0 lead.

But this time, the Chargers had plenty of time to come back. Or, more accurately, the offense and defense had more opportunities to put their fingerprints on another loss.

The offense turned the ball over three times, losing two fumbles in the red zone and a third while marching for a go-ahead field goal in the closing minutes.

LB Stephen Cooper
Thearon Henderson/Getty
The defense, ranked No. 1 coming into the game, allowed Oakland consecutive touchdown drives of 12 and 14 plays as the Raiders scored 20 of the game's final 23 points. Those two backbreaking TD drives covered 97 and 73 yards, respectively, giving Ron Rivera's defense plenty of chances to get off the field.

It never could, so instead the Raiders left the field with their first victory over the Chargers in their last 14 meetings. San Diego goes home with a losing record (2-3), including an 0-3 mark on the road and an 0-2 mark in the division.

Chargers fans get some peace knowing their team has dug out of this hole before. The Chargers have started 2-3 in three of the last four seasons, yet they've won the AFC West title in each of Norv Turner's three full seasons at the helm.

Turner, who said famously this offseason that this will be the best he has ever coached, now struggles to find justification for that statement. In fact, though five weeks one could make a very convincing argument that this is the worst Chargers team he has ever coached.

The offense is explosive, yet it had a chance to produce the tying or winning score late in each of San Diego's three losses and failed every time.

The defense, as evidenced in Oakland, is still not good enough to get off the field when it matters. And that was against one of the worst offenses in the entire league.

And the special teams … well, let's just say Steve Crosby better get his résumé ready, and he may not want to mention anything that has happened during the 2010 season.

Hopefully, come January, Chargers fans won't feel the same way.

What did Chargers fans think of the game? Find out inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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