Chargers Digest Another Missed Opportunity

"You like to be playing your best game in January in games like this," coach Norv Turner said. "Certainly, we weren't, for whatever reasons."

The Chargers were on the wrong end of a 17-14 game, losing to the New York Jets in an AFC divisional playoff game. The AFC's No. 2 seed was left grasping for answers as to why it played one of its worst games after a solid season with so much at stake.

"You want to play your best game when you get to this point and we obviously didn't do it," said Philip Rivers, who had two interceptions in the loss after throwing only nine all season. "It's disappointing because you want to make enough plays and play well enough to win the game. We fell three points short but fought like crazy to try to overcome some of those mistakes, but we just didn't get it done."

Once again.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, their playoff history is one of disappointment.

Those great Air Coryell teams from 1979-1981 never reached a Super Bowl and now a collection of players who have won four consecutive AFC West titles have not advanced past a conference championship game.

The Chargers were favored over the Jets, but swear they didn't look past them.

"No, not at all," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "There is no such thing as underestimating somebody at this point. If someone makes it to this position in the playoffs you can't underestimate them. Like I said earlier, they had the winning formula to be here."

The Chargers thought they did after capping the regular season with an 11-game winning streak. But once again, the Chargers will start next season hoping that will be the season they win their first Super Bowl.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Rivers solidified his spot among the game's elite quarterback, throwing for more than 4,000 yards for the second consecutive season. The Chargers amplified their pass-first attack and the result was 13 wins, the second-most in franchise history. Among the reasons for that explosion was wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who had his second straight 1,000-yard season with nine touchdowns. Other bright spots were the play of rookie right guard Louis Vasquez and the versatility of tackle Brandyn Dombrowski. Tight end Antonio Gates was fit and he contributed 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns on 79 catches in another Pro Bowl season. Defensively, outside linebacker Shaun Phillips set a franchise mark with a league-high seven forced fumbles to go with a team-best seven sacks.

WHAT WENT WRONG: The Chargers were racked by injuries along the defensive line and it was a shortcoming they wrestled with throughout the season. Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams was lost in the season opener and teams were able to run on the Chargers from that point on. The Chargers' running game never did find any traction as it was consistently ranked near the bottom in every category throughout the season. It was clear LaDainian Tomlinson is no longer the stellar back he once was as age and wear-and-tear took its toll.


--RB LaDainian Tomlinson didn't sound confident about returning to the Chargers next season. He still wants to play, but it's doubtful it will be in San Diego.

--K Nate Kaeding will have a difficult offseason as he has to digest missing all three of his field-goal attempts in the loss to the Jets.

--WR Legedu Naanee played more as the season wore on and he could be a big contributor next season.

--OLB Shawne Merriman could be heading into free agency; the Chargers attempting to retain him is no lock.

--WR Vincent Jackson's contract has expired and he is due for a big payday. The Chargers won't let him get away.

--LT Marcus McNeill also needs to have his contract extended. McNeill will remain a Charger.

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