Once again, the Chargers fell flat in the playoffs, losing to the Jets, 17-14, in an AFC Divisional Game.
So instead of preparing for a matchup with the Colts, the Chargers were doing exit interviews.
"I think when you put the whole thing together we didn't get it done the way we had over the last 11 weeks," coach Norv Turner said.
Much credit has to go to the Jets. But there is also no doubt the Chargers played one of their worst games of the season.
Penalties, bonehead plays and a lack of production at critical times made for a lot of long faces on Monday at Chargers Park.
"We all had expectations of winning the championship, and it's disappointing when it comes to a halt," LaDainian Tomlinson said.
Turner, though, said the future remains bright.
"We have got an outstanding football team and we have got good players and great character players and people that you want to be around on a daily basis and these guys will get it done," he said. "They will get this thing done -- there is no question in my mind.
"I think the future for this football team is outstanding."
And while bummed Chargers fans will find the words hollow after so many crushing playoff losses, Turner said the Super Bowl will someday come to San Diego.
"That is our intention and our goal," Turner said. "I believe this team is capable of coming back and putting itself in position to make a run at it over the next period of time."
Many thought the time was now. But the Jets had other ideas.
"We won 13 games. That is a lot of games," Tomlinson said.
But it wasn't enough.
"We did some things we haven't done all year," Tomlinson said. "It's heartbreaking to lose like this and I don't think there is anything you can take out of it. You take the feeling with you how you felt, losing that game, into the offseason to fuel you to train and get ready for the next season and try to give it another shot."
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson likely played his last game as a Charger, ending one of the most decorated careers in franchise history. When asked if he wanted to return, Tomlinson said: "I can't tell you that right now," he said, after a long pause. Tomlinson nearly wasn't retained last season. But unlike last season, the Chargers will show their hand early in the process as Tomlinson is due a $2 million roster bonus on March 1 and then his $3 million salary for next year. That's too rich for a back that'll be 31 and is coming off a season in which he had career lows in rushing, rushing average and carries. "I've heard all the speculation," Tomlinson said. "But I'll tell you what -- I've had a heck of a time here and if it is (over), I've enjoyed the ride."
--QB Philip Rivers saw his playoff record drop to 3-4 with another shaky showing in Sunday's loss. After being intercepted but nine times during the regular season, he was picked off twice in Sunday's second half. "You want to play your best game when you get to this point, and obviously didn't do that," Rivers said. "It's disappointing because you want to make enough plays and play well enough to win the game. We just didn't get it done."
--Among the reasons the Chargers did their annual playoff face-plant were 10 penalties. "The penalties were very uncharacteristic of us," OLB Shawne Merriman said. "Why? I don't know but you can't win like that. We can't expect to win a game in the playoffs with that many penalties. The worst part is that it's just not us."
--LT Marcus McNeill's contract needs to be done. McNeill played at a Pro Bowl level this past season and he is the key to the Chargers being able to fling the ball around the field. McNeill is a good locker room guy as well, and his signing will be a top priority for the Chargers.
--WR Vincent Jackson, the team's top deep threat, is due for a new contract. Jackson would come with mitigating circumstances as there is a chance he is looking at a suspension next year if he is convicted of his second driving under the influence charge.
--K Nate Kaeding couldn't find the mark Sunday, which is crazy considering he entered the game with an NFL record of 69 straight field goals from 40 yards or closer. He missed two that fit that category Sunday; he also missed on a 57-yarder.
--ILB Brandon Siler started the season as a special teams player and ended it in the starting lineup. Few Chargers saw their stock rise more than the physical Siler.
--RB Darren Sproles will likely have a new running back mate next season with LaDainian Tomlinson not expected to return. Sproles had the franchise tag this season and the Chargers aren't interested in letting him leave next year. Sproles was the one bright spot Sunday in the running game as he averaged 11 yards on three carries.
REPORT CARD VS. JETS
PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Philip Rivers wasn't on his game and he never did get in a rhythm. He threw two interceptions and the whole passing game seemed off-kilter. The Jets' varied pass rush gave the Chargers fits and while Rivers was only sacked twice he never did look comfortable. Too many drops as well as Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates couldn't wrap up passes. Gates did have a nifty one-hand catch; third-string TE Kris Wilson had the team's only scoring catch. The Chargers lean so much on the passing game that when this unit struggled, the whole team fell down.
RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- The Chargers haven't been able to run the ball with any consistency all season and proved it once again Sunday. The run-blocking was suspect -- the Jets' top-ranked run defense had something to do with that. But LaDainian Tomlinson showed his age and Darren Sproles wasn't used enough.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Mark Sanchez wasn't asked to do much, but he did enough to win. The Chargers allowed a scoring pass when LB Tim Dobbins got lost in his coverage. But Sanchez wasn't pressured enough -- although he didn't throw all that much. Quentin Jammer was good, but his pass interference didn't help. Antonio Cromartie played to his reputation -- he doesn't like to hit.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Chargers knew the Jets were going to run and they still couldn't stop it. The Jets piled up 169 yards on the ground and controlled the line of scrimmage. The Chargers were pushed around as their run defense once again showed it is the team's biggest shortcoming. Eric Weddle will have to wait a long time before the memory of being flattened by Shonn Green for the key touchdown fades.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Nate Kaeding missed three field goals -- one from 57 yards -- and that was an absolute killer. Kaeding's inability to hit even one of those attempts helped deflate the hopes this team had in the game. Nothing special on returns; coverages were fine. But it can't amplify too much how big of a killer Kaeding's misses were.
COACHING: F -- Norv Turner said his bunch was coached-up and ready. But the Chargers for some reason lost their composure and committed too many penalties. The tightness that the team came into the game with could not be ignored. Ron Rivera did a good job on defense, holding the Jets to 17 points. That should be enough, especially with the Chargers' potent attack.
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