No Chad Ochocinco. No Terrell Owens. No problem.
The Chargers’ usual second half push for the playoffs will fall short after the Bengals pounded them 34-20 Sunday. It was an inexplicable display of awful defense at the worst possible time for the Chargers. It’s been an inexplicable season for San Diego, and this latest letdown will hand the Chiefs the AFC West title.
The Chargers entered the game second in offense and first in yards allowed. They were second in the league in point differential. None of that will matter because they couldn’t win a game they absolutely needed Sunday.
When the story of the 2010 Chargers is told, their special teams failures early in the season will be blamed for their record. Fair enough.
It’s worth remembering, though, that the Chargers were soundly outplayed three times this year. The Rams, Raiders, and Bengals all beat San Diego up. Not exactly title contenders there.
Carson Palmer completed 16-of-21 passes for 269 yards and four scores Sunday. Jerome Simpson had 124 yards and two scores, while Andre Caldwell had 87 yards. Not exactly Jerry Rice and John Taylor there.
It’s hard to really explain this Chargers team, but G.M. A.J. Smith now has a long, frustrating offseason to figure out where things went wrong.