Familiar failures haunt Chargers, who blow big lead and lose to Saints in overtime
The Chargers blew a third double-digit lead and a second consecutive 17-point lead but found a new way to lose the game Monday.
A new way that harkened back to their recent, frustrating past.
Michael Badgley’s 50-yard field goal on the final play of regulation hit the right upright, opening the way for a 30-27 New Orleans victory in overtime.
Badgley also missed a first-quarter extra point that proved crucial.
“In practice, he’s been kicking outstanding,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “He’s healthy. His leg strength is better than it’s ever been. No, he’s kicking good. He just missed tonight.”
Badgley emerged as a rookie during the 2018 season to steady a position that had been a major issue for Lynn and the Chargers before his arrival.
Entering Monday, Badgley had converted 85% of his field goals and 98% of his extra points. He was 54 of 55 on extra points before his first attempt against the Saints sailed wide right.
One of the few things Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hasn’t done is win a game and Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints continued the trend.
“Yeah, I’ll be the first to say he’s got to do better,” Lynn said. “But we could have done some other things better, as well.”
Behind quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers opened a 20-3 lead toward the latter part of the second quarter.
The rookie passed 17 yards to Keenan Allen, four yards to Mike Williams and three yards to Hunter Henry for touchdowns. He’d finish 20 for 34 for 264 yards and four scores, a high for him and the most by a first-year quarterback on “Monday Night Football.”
The Chargers also had a 17-point, second-quarter lead the previous week at Tampa Bay before a late turnover led to a momentum-shifting Buccaneers touchdown right before halftime.
Likewise on Monday, the Saints scored on a one-yard Drew Brees run with only 14 seconds remaining in the second quarter, altering the mood of the night and setting up a New Orleans comeback.
“The guys are putting themselves in position to win these games and we’re just not finishing the games,” Lynn said. “It’s not one thing here or there. Yeah, I could give you a ton of excuses. But I’m not about excuses. At the end of the day, we’ve just got to get it done, and that’s on me.”
The Chargers also blew an 11-point, third-quarter lead in an overtime loss to Kansas City in Week 2.
The defeat Monday was the fourth straight for the Chargers (1-4). They’ve dropped 13 of 16 one-score games dating to last season.
“Once we win one of these damn games, I really believe they’re going to come in bunches,” Lynn said. “And I can’t wait.”
Chargers receivers coach Phil McGeoghan did not travel with the team to New Orleans but remains a member of the staff.
After such an impressive first two quarters, Herbert and the offense sputtered for much of the second half.
One of the issues was the loss of Allen, who left the game shortly after his touchdown and did not return because of back spasms.
Allen and Herbert hooked up for 28 completions — on 40 targets — in their first three games together.
“It affected the whole football team not having Keenan out there,” Lynn said of his three-time Pro Bowl player. “Keenan’s one of our playmakers.”
The Chargers also struggled to consistently protect Herbert, who was sacked three times and hit 12 times total.
Guard Trai Turner (groin) and tackle Bryan Bulaga (back), the starting right side of the offensive line, missed the game because of injuries.
The NFL was looking to move the minimum amount of games to accommodate the postponement of Broncos-Patriots. The solution was to essentially redraw the Chargers’ schedule.
“My quarterback was running for his life a little bit there…” Lynn said when asked about the offensive woes in the second half. “They stood up. We made some mistakes too. But their defense stood up and they stopped us.”
The winning points came on a 36-yard field goal by Wil Lutz on the first series of overtime.
The Chargers had one final chance, but their overtime possession ended near midfield when Williams took a short pass from Herbert and narrowly missed converting a fourth down.
Williams finished with five receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. His spectacular leaping grab for a 29-yard gain in the final 10 seconds set up Badgley’s failed 50-yard try.
And so, the frustration for the Chargers continued.
“I believe in that locker room,” Lynn said after falling to 6-15 since the start of last season.
“I believe those men will bounce back. We have a lot of football left in front of us. I believe we’ll get this ship corrected and moving in the right direction.”
Miller reported from Los Angeles.
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