Chargers end their season on a cold note

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After their tough loss to the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn spoke with the media on Monday. The game obviously did not go as Lynn and his team had planned and hoped it would, and by the score, it appeared they were over-matched.

Yet, quarterback Philip Rivers did connect for three touchdown passes, one to his long-time target, tight end Antonio Gates. But in the first half the Chargers were outscored 35-7 and when New England is given that big of a lead, they rarely (if ever) let it go.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers

In the second half Los Angeles out-scored the Patriots 21-6, but they were still two touchdowns short of the win.

The Chargers were primarily beaten in the running game. Sony Michel finished the game with 129 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The next running back for New England, Rex Burkhead, had 12 yards and one touchdown.

In comparison, the entire running game for the Chargers only chalked up 19 yards on the ground and one TD by Melvin Gordon III. To win, Los Angeles needed more from its running game and the New England defense was able to shut it down.

Rivers threw for 331 yards and three TD’s, with one interception. New England QB Tom Brady had 343 yards passing and one TD.

Defense wins games and the New England defense stepped up. They sacked Rivers twice and scored seven hits on the QB. The Chargers defense had only two hits on Brady.

On Monday Coach Lynn stated the obvious, the New England Patriots were the better team on Sunday. When asked if they would do anything differently in the game, Lynn said, “We would do a lot of things differently. We were looking at the game on the plane coming home [Sunday] night. We had a game plan. We went in and we didn’t execute as well as I would like. They did a heck of a job of executing. They attacked us pretty good, as you saw. They were the better team [Sunday], no doubt.”

But there is little, if any, melancholy in Lynn’s attitude. “Any time you have a season like that, you don’t want to see it come to an end because we put ourselves in the position to do something special — and we fell short. We did not play our best football [Sunday]. We have to live with that for the rest of the offseason — but like we just talked about with the players, we look forward to coming back here on April 15th, building another team and trying to do it again.”

He likes his team, not just for their abilities on the field and the spirit in the locker room, but for who they are as men. “This team had a lot of grit, a lot of resolve. This team never quit. Even though we weren’t playing our best ball [Sunday], we didn’t quit. They came back out in the second half and outscored the other team 21-6. We had dug ourselves in a hole in the first half, so it was a little too late, but they never quit. They’re going to play four quarters. It’s a high-character team. You don’t hear about these guys getting in trouble outside of football — getting arrested and things like that. It’s a good group.”

Philip Rivers is 37 years old and fans might wonder how much longer he can play. Lynn has no doubts and is very optimistic about his quarterback. “I thought Philip played really good football this year. He was very consistent. He was playing at an MVP level. That’s a credit to him, being 37 years old and coming back in the best shape of his life. He was unbelievable. I saw this coming last year in OTAs, just the way he ran around, the way he looked and the way he was throwing. He’s a good football player. He’s a Hall of Famer, so that speaks for itself.”

Chargers LB Melvin Ingram

Lynn added he believes Rivers can play at that level for a few more years. “After what he showed this year, I really think he can play for a couple more years — maybe even more. Who knows? I don’t know what these guys take these days, they play forever.”

The Chargers. for the most part, are out until next season and the fans can expect another good team. But for the coaching staff and seven players, there is the 2019 Pro Bowl. The entire coaching staff will be in Orlando for the January 27 game: Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon II, WR Keenan Allen, C Mike Puncey, DE Melvin Ingram; and the starters: S Derwin James and Special Teams Adrian Phillips. Tackle Russell Okung is a first alternate.

There are four teams still in the hunt, the New England Patriots who will travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams, who will get it on in the Big Easy against the Saints.

Photos by Claudia Gestro
Top photo: Chargers HC Anthony Lynn