Fumbling finish

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Jul 6, 2005


Chargers second-guessing themselves after miscues lead to season's fourth close loss

PHILADELPHIA – Another fourth quarter went amok.

One interception was all but wasted; one was thrown. MartyBall reared its conservative head. A blocked field goal was returned for a touchdown. A fine play that could have made this story read another way ended in a fumble and ended the game.

And so the Chargers lost another close one yesterday, this time 20-17 to the Philadelphia Eagles.

While the Eagles celebrated along with those fans remaining among the announced crowd of 67,747 at Lincoln Financial Field – those who had not left early thinking their team had lost or been scared off by the false fire alarm and call to evacuate the stadium in the fourth quarter – the Chargers headed back to the locker room for a pep talk that is starting to sound stale.

Head coach Marty Schottenheimer once again told a group of stunned, silent football players that they comprise a good team.

They want to believe.

But a thought hovers like a specter, now that a season full of chances is vanishing before their eyes.

"That's not going to get us anywhere," linebacker Steve Foley said. "We have to come out with a 'W.' I don't care how well we compete or how we beat a team up and down the field. If we don't come out with that 'W,' there's no success. Everything goes out the window. You can sit here and say we did this well and that well. That's not going to count for anything. Plain and simple, we've got to win. Just win."

Quintin Mikell's block of Nate Kaeding's 40-yard field goal attempt and the 65-yard return for a touchdown by Matt Ware that gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead with 2:25 remaining sent the Chargers to their fourth loss – by a total of 12 points.

So, a team that could be 7-0 is 3-4.

"A good team has got to have a good record to go to the playoffs," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "People can say, 'Oh yeah, they're 3-4, they're a great frigging team.' We have to find a way to finish."

Yes, the Chargers used the F-word again following another win-turned-loss.

The inability to "finish" is enough to give the Chargers nightmares.

"You think you played well enough," safety Bhawoh Jue said. "But you ask yourself at night, 'Could I have made one more play?' Probably."

It is enough to make them crazy.

"Yeah, it just about makes you want to snap on just anybody," cornerback Quentin Jammer said. "The first person to say something wrong to you, you're just ready to snap. That's what losing on one of those plays will do to you."

It is getting old.

"We've had this conversation before," Edwards said.

It also halted the chase for a record.

LaDainian Tomlinson not only ran 17 times for a career-low 7 yards, he did not score, leaving him tied with Lenny Moore as the only men in NFL history to score in 18 straight games.

Tomlinson's best chance was a dive to the half-yard-line in the fourth quarter.

"It was pretty close," he said.

The story of the season. As there had been following the four-point loss to Dallas, the three-point loss to Denver and the two-point loss to Pittsburgh, there were again many mentions yesterday of how one play could have changed the outcome.

Yesterday's one play? Take your pick.