Familiar Script to Another Loss

The good news for Chargers fans? There are only nine games left in the season and this team is quickly running out of new ways to lose. This after a tough loss to New England in which San Diego purposely left two fumbles on the ground and banged a game-tying field goal off the upright.

The Chargers have heard it all season long: They would be undefeated if only they could protect the football and stop imploding on special teams. So what do they do in a vital game against the Patriots? Turn the ball over on four consecutive drives and end the game on a missed 50-yard field goal (it would have been a 45-yard attempt if not for a false start on the previous snap).

As usual, the Chargers were statistically dominant. They out-gained the Patriots, 363-179. San Diego gained more first downs (23-15), did better on third down (46 percent to 25 percent) and fared a full 2 yards better in per-play average (5.1 to 3.1).

Of course, thanks to a handful of painfully dumb plays, none of it mattered.

K Kris Brown
Donald Miralle/Getty
Richard Goodman caught his first career pass early in the second quarter, good for 25 yards, only to place the ball on the ground before ever being touched down.

On the very next drive, Philip Rivers threw a sideways pass to Jacob Hester. The ball fell incomplete and no one made an effort to fall on it, except for Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich, who scooped up the live ball and returned it 63 yards down to the San Diego 8-yard line.

There were also smaller yet significant blunders. Ryan Mathews dropped an easy pass on a third-and-2. Patrick Crayton dropped a ball on San Diego's final possession that may have extended the drive. And Buster Davis had another drop this week after dropping three last week.

The plethora of offensive miscues undercut a strong performance by the defense. Other than New England's opening drive of the second half (17 plays, 8:35 off the clock), the defense was stifling and aggressive. Tom Brady was sacked four times (twice by Antwan Barnes, once each by Shaun Phillips and Antonio Garay) and the New England running game averaged just 2.3 ypc.

But as has been the case five times already this season, the Chargers could not put all three phases together for 60 minutes.

Can the Chargers salvage this season? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com 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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