With the rain coming down steadily throughout the night,
Nate Kaeding had three chances to come away with a positive. His first kick had the look of a ball that got tipped at the line – it didn't – but the trajectory looked awful from the start.
He missed that kick at the eight minute marker in the fourth quarter from 45 yards out.
He gained a yard on his next kick and pulled it to the other side – and it wasn't very close at all. That came a minute and a half after the first one.
Seen on the sidelines practicing, many doubted he would get the chance to redeem himself. But right after the two minute warning, Kaeding was back on the field. He lined up from 46 yards out and it had the distance but was off the mark.
"I've been involved in a lot of kicks like that and if you make them you are a great player," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "And if you don't, everybody talks about it until you finally make one."
Nate Kaeding still has to make one. He has missed four straight and needed one to rebound. It was the playoffs in 2004 against New York that he missed his field goal and it sent the Chargers home for the rest of the winter.
"You never want to see a guy struggle, especially like that…," Longwell added. The veteran in Green Bay, coincidentally, made his kick from 53 yards out.
"This is where you make your bread," said Kaeding as he shook his head in dismay.
With the Chargers facing one of the toughest schedules in the league, they will need a confident Kaeding when the season begins. The kicker is often the difference between a win and a loss and that was evident on Thursday.
Longwell says Kaeding will bounce back. He just needs to see different conditions and learn from the experiences.
"You can draft for potential but you cannot draft for experience," the hero said. "When it comes to crunch time…"
The biggest worry is how Kaeding will respond after such a game. This, luckily, was the first preseason game. He has three more games to trot onto the field and make fans forget. Short term memory is the one thing he has on his side. Kicking a game-winner, something he has yet to truly do, will do wonders. He needs a good game next time out.
Only Kaeding knows and he wasn't talking much after the game.