Poor clock management costly for the Chargers

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The Chargers are 2-6, but they’ve been in every game this season, with all of their losses coming down to the final moments, including Sunday’s loss to the Raiders, in which an apparent game-winning touchdown on the last play was overturned by replay. So why do they keep losing close games?

One answer may just be bad luck. But another answer is that poor clock management has been extremely costly for the Chargers.

As noted by Warren Sharp, the Chargers had the ball at the two-minute warning, trailing 31-26, needing to go 55 yards to score the game-winning touchdown against the Raiders. With all three timeouts, two minutes should have been plenty of time for the Chargers to score the game winner. There’s no guarantee of driving 55 yards, of course, but the clock should not have been what ended the Chargers’ chances.

The clock was what ended the Chargers’ chances.

On the first play after the two-minute warning, Justin Herbert ran the ball and was tackled inbounds. The Chargers let 28 seconds run off the clock before finally deciding to call timeout. On the next play, the Chargers were tackled inbounds again. And again on the next play, when the Chargers used their second timeout. And then they were tackled inbounds again on the next play as well. Two plays later they were tackled inbounds again and used their third and final timeout with 28 seconds left.

In all, the Chargers got out of bounds on just one of their first seven plays after the two-minute warning, and they used all three timeouts in that time.

On the play after the Chargers’ third timeout they completed a pass inside the 5-yard line, but the clock was running, so they had to waste first-and-goal spiking the ball, rather than running a play. On second-and-goal the Chargers knew — and the Raiders knew — that they had to pass, because a run would keep the clock running and end the game. The Chargers’ second-and-goal pass was incomplete with one second left. And then on third-and-goal time expired on the overturned touchdown.

The Chargers should have had another fourth-and-goal play, but time expired. The Chargers should have had more flexibility with their play calling and the ability to threaten the Raiders with a short-yardage run, but they were out of timeouts so they had to pass. The clock management was inexcusable.

17 responses to “Poor clock management costly for the Chargers

  1. I remember wondering what the Chargers were doing running all these short plays in the middle of the field.

    At the end though before the overturned TD, I thought it had all worked out perfectly.

  2. It couldn’t of been due to the fact that it was two outstanding plays by Isaiah Johnson!? Give credit when due!

  3. Is Anthony Lynn tanking? Obviously his players aren’t but oh my god has his coaching been nothing short of sabotage….

  4. Gruden had his moments as well….4th and 2 and he punted…so he put his faith in our defense?? Our defense is not good Jon…not good at all..let our offense win the game!!

  5. Yeah, this kind of thing is inexcusable. It shows that they didn’t have a plan for the aftermath of each play. Letting 1/4 of your time tick off before calling a time out is just ridiculous.

  6. Hindsight is 20/20. He also didn’t want to leave the Raiders’ explosive offense with NAY time left on the clock to try to take a few shots down the field to win the game. Chargers were down by 5 at that point. All the Raiders would need would be a FG to win it if there was any time left on the clock.

    They had 2 great chances to win the game from the 4 yard line. The Raiders made 2 great plays to stop them. None of it was “inexcusable,” it was just great football.

  7. Bad clock management is a common problem for NFL coaches. There have been analytics brought into the game. Clock management would be an easy target for teams to get an advantage.

  8. That’s very nitpicky. A lot of time ran off because Herbert kept throwing over the middle checkdowns.

  9. You give the Chargers a coach who can manage the clock and they’d be the talk of the NFL right now and possibly still undefeated. Multiple blown leads, bad clock management last night…. Lynn is only still employed because nobody cares about the Chargers so there is no uproar to fire him. If they were in a city with an actual fanbase every question every week would be on when he’s getting canned.

  10. The most maddening thing to me in football is the team that lets any seconds run off the clock before calling a timeout. That decision should be made before that precious play is even snapped.

  11. I mean, they had two chances to win and the WRs dropped the ball. Can’t really fault that too much on the coach. You expect the coach to “put the team in a good position to win” and I’d say he’s done that quite a bit this year but execution has failed. This is nothing new for the Chargers even back with Mike McCoy. Some franchise just struggle win and close out close games. (Chargers, Lions, Falcons)

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