The Chargers did just about everything wrong that they could Sunday. They got stuffed on three straight plays at the Patriots' goal line, including on fourth-and-1. They then gave up a 99-yard touchdown drive to Tom Brady's boys. Oh, and San Diego turned it over four times -- two interceptions and two fumbles -- and lost by 14 at New England, 35-21.
Now here's the silver lining: San Diego had a chance, a real chance to win this game. That unending string of miscues and mental mistakes kept the Chargers from scoring a huge intra-conference win on the road.
Had this happened to the Chargers in the playoffs, it would have been devastating -- a brutal way to end a promising year. The fact that it occurred now, in Week 2, should only fuel the Chargers further.
Keep in mind that this is a San Diego team that is accustomed to calling in sick until about mid-October before trying to crank it up and make the playoffs. You're seeing a different approach in 2011.
The Chargers were sluggish in Week 1 against Minnesota but, as opposed to similar early-season situations in the past, they found a way to get a win. That made Sunday's trip to Foxborough a much more relaxed situation. Sure, it would have been nice to get a leg up on the Patriots now, in case those two are battling for home field come playoff time.
But still, it was far from a must-win for San Diego, especially with Oakland falling in Buffalo and last year's division champs, Kansas City, looking like the Texas State Fightin' Armadillos before Scott Bakula showed up to play quarterback.
San Diego plays the Chiefs, Dolphins and Broncos in the next three weeks. The combined record of those teams? 1-5, with Denver narrowly keeping that group from 0-6 thanks to a win over the lowly Bengals.
The turnovers are obviously a concern for the Chargers -- even in September, you do not want to hand games away, especially to quality teams.
It's also an issue that can be patched up.
This isn't meant to take anything away from the Patriots, who, right now, are an offensive juggernaut if the league has ever seen one. New England took care of the football and was opportunistic, if not incredibly stingy, on defense. The Patriots deserved to win and the final score reflected that.
For San Diego, though, chalk it up as a learning experience and something to grow on. There are some games teams lose because they're simply not as good as their opponent. And there are others when they measure up pretty well but just don't execute.