An unfortunate turn of events

The Chargers were setting up shop for a score that would put them up by seven with two minutes to go in the game. It was then that the football gods decided against driving the chariot that held the Chargers' bandwagon.

"This loss was really hard to swallow because with five minutes left we felt that we had them," fullback Lorenzo Neal said.

Each year, there are certain games that simply need a touch of luck and the beneficiary of that fine lady often sees it more than once in a given year.

This is clearly not that year for San Diego.

Instead of going up by seven, they were down by three in the blink of an eye.

What happened?

"Our tight end sees the snap, gets himself set and does a hinge move," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "What Steve (Foley) has to do is get his hand on the man and then drop his leg and get the outside guy.

"The mistake is we let a guy through and we have to get him blocked. We failed to block the guy who was the most dangerous man."

The Eagles say they knew before the snap. Quintin Mikkel got the block and Matt Ware took the perfect hop into the end zone.

"We watched some film and saw there was a little bit of opening there," said Mikkel. "Their tight end didn't really get down in the gap as hard as we came in off the edge. We knew if we got a chance it would be there so we worked on it all game. It was sweet."

"I just saw the ball coming down and, you know how usually the ball hits the ground and takes a funky bounce, right or left? It bounced straight back up," an amazed Ware said. "This is crazy. I grabbed it up and tried to get into the endzone. I was looking out of the corner of my eyes making sure no one was going to catch me, high knees and pumping my arms."

But the Chargers got the ball back and were only down by three. Quarterback Drew Brees hit Antonio Gates for nine yards and followed it up by hitting Reche Caldwell for 22 yards. The ball sat at the Philadelphia 37 yard line with a minute and a half on the clock.

It was the next play that defined the Chargers season and their inability to come up with the big play, the big stop, the big something that would push them into the win column more often.

Caldwell caught the rock short of the first down, cut inside and was on his way down inside the twenty when Sheldon Brown tore the ball free from his grasp and effectively ended the drive and the game.

"Most definitely I was trying to strip the football and even if he would have carried me 6 or more yards, it would not have made a difference, because they were in field goal range and I was just trying to make a play for the team," said Brown.

You would have thought Caldwell would know.

In field goal range, neither team owns a timeout, and the game is on the line.

"I am disappointed because I feel that I let my teammates, the coaches, and the fans down," said Caldwell. "You have to hold on to the ball when you are in that time of a game."

He actually made the fans happy. The fans in Philadelphia that is.

The play was reviewed to see if it was, in fact, a fumble.

"When it unfolded, my sense was that it was going to be too close to overturn," Schottenheimer said. "I take no exception to it. We get paid to hold onto the ball. That's part of our job, and unfortunately we didn't do it."

The series of unfortunate events is common among teams that don't possess the killer instinct that finds a way to win football games no matter what is thrown their way.

The team lacks the ability to finish, to close out games. They have not lost a game, including playoffs, by more than four points in 21 consecutive games, the seventh longest streak in NFL history.

Twelve points is the margin over the Chargers four losses this year. And luck rides somewhere else this year.


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