Sunday’s 31-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings was the kind of game some teams could take the easy road and make excuses for.
Yet when the clock struck zero, the San Diego Chargers refused to make a single one.
“Obviously not good enough of the entire football team on the road against a very well-coached football team,” Head Coach Mike McCoy said. “Nothing went right for us today, and it sums everything up from start to finish. Not a lot of positives.”
Overall, the team refused to use the injury bug as a scapegoat for their lack of execution even as a large number of players were forced to miss action throughout the game. In fact, all 46 active members saw the field, including eight offensive linemen with Joe Barksdale as the only man in the trenches to play each offensive snap.
“We have to find a way to get it done,” McCoy reiterated. “That’s our job as coaches and as players; we’ve got to get the job done and we didn’t get it done today. (Injuries) are part of the business. It’s the bad part, but there are no excuses on our end. We got beat.”
Philip Rivers was hit on 12 of his 38 drop backs and sacked four times against the Vikings. Meanwhile, the ground attack was only able to muster 90 yards on 28 carries. But just like McCoy, number 17 refused to blame the offensive line shuffle for the offense’s struggles. Instead, he maintains all 11 players on the field need to raise their game going forward.
“I have to worry about what I’m doing and try to play better,” he said. “The (offensive line) fought their tail off. There were guys out there probably pushing to play anyway. Thank goodness they were dressed because if not, I don’t know what we would have done. Our loss is not on the offensive line. It’s on the quarterback and I can name a lot of things it’s on. Yes, (injuries) make it more difficult. But the guys fought (and what they) gave until the end certainly is appreciated.”
Meanwhile on defense, the secondary was hit hard by the injury bug as well. Brandon Flowers (knee) and Jahleel Addae (ankle) were inactive whileJason Verrett (foot) and Craig Mager (hamstring) were forced out in the first half. As a result, Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams were the only two healthy cornerbacks available for most of the game.
But again, while it would be easy for the defensive backs to make an excuse, the Chargers refused to do so.
“We’re all in the NFL, and when one man goes down it’s the next man up,” said Jimmy Wilson. “That’s the mentality we have to have, and we just didn’t get the win today. I put (the second Adrian Peterson) touchdown on myself. I should have gotten him down, but I couldn’t get a hold of his jersey when he stiff armed me and he busted down into the end zone. That was a big play in this game, and I’ve got to do better myself. As a team we must rally around each other and win games.”
In addition to no excuses being made, there is also no panic in the Chargers locker room. Yes, some say there is a greater sense of urgency, but they all know it is still early in the year. Even though their record now stands at 1-2, there are 13 weeks still to be played. In fact, the Chargers did not post a losing record the last four times they started 1-2, including most recently in 2013 under McCoy.
“(If we made) excuses or not, we took a loss and that’s what it is,” Stevie Johnson explained. “The only way we can get it back is next Sunday….Nobody is panicking in here because we know it is still early. We just move on to the next and learn from the past. We know there’s still hope; it’s just a long season but it’s a tough one today.”
While admitting the positives are few and far between in this type of a loss, Rivers emphasized how confident the Chargers are in what they can accomplish the rest of the season.
“On a game like this, there aren’t a ton of positives but I think our fight, and I know it counts of nothing on the outside, but on the inside, the guys know who fights and who doesn’t. I think collectively we fought to the end but we have a long way to go. We’ve been 1-2 before and have won in double digits. I’m not making any predictions but there’s a lot of football left.”