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Chargers Miss Another Superbowl Chance


The hottest team in the N-F-L is out of the playoffs. The San Diego Chargers lost to the New York Jets 17-14 at the Q. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris.

The hottest team in the NFL is out of the playoffs. San Diego Chargers were grounded by the New York Jets defense in front of a soldout crowd at Qualcomm. The final score, Jets 17, Chargers 14. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris. Well, Jay, the Chargers won 11 games in a row going in to Sunday's playoff game. They also had a week off before yesterday's game. What went wrong from your standpoint?

JAY PARIS: They choked. Everything was lined up for them to win this game and to advance in the playoffs. They played tight, they played too conservative, and I'm not a big curse guy, but it seemed like they brought the baggage of previous Charger faceplants with them. I mean this was a team that was built to win now, was built to win this year, with it as healthy as it's been all year pretty much, and they just didn't perform up to their standards. I don't think if you were picking players you certainly would pick more players on the Charger team with all their stars. But the better team won yesterday, not necessarily the team with the best players.

PAMELA DAVIS: Well, it looked like the Chargers couldn't get the offense going, and the New York Jets capitalized when they needed to. Why couldn't Philip Rivers get it going?

PARIS: Well, you got to tip your helmet to the Jets, I mean that's the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, and that's a recipe for winning, having a great defense and a strong running game. And Rivers was pestered, and the offensive line wasn't able to keep up with the pressure that the Jets pass rush was giving, and they weren't able to throw their downfield stuff as much as Chargers. So Rivers and that offense never did really get into a rhythm, and the plain calling was a little suspect, but don't overlook the Jets. They were giving the Chargers fits and they proved it all game long.

DWANE BROWN: The Chargers also had an uncharacteristic 10 penalties in yesterday's game. What's up with that?

PARIS: That's discipline and that's coaching, really, when you look at a team, especially the type of penalities. If you're holding a guy so your quarterback doesn't get killed, that's one thing, but unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and false starts and just a team that was playing too tight. You know, you want to be playing your best when the stakes are the highest, I mean, that 11-game winning streak, that's great and everything, but it's like you did well on those little quizzes in your class that count for, you know, 5 percent of your grade, and then when it comes time for the final you totally tank, and that's what happened Sunday.

DAVIS: Nate Kaeding is the most accurate placekicker in NFL history. He made 69 consecutive field goals under 40 yards, and missed all three attempts yesterday. What happened?

PARIS: Playoffs. Uh, when you get to the playoffs everything's magnified, and everything's amplified, and maybe the pressure that's not there earlier in the year is tenfold from what it is in a regular season game. Playoff football is a different animal, and people that shine when the lights aren't the brightest, sometimes don't shine when they have to, when it is playoff time. And he certainly can make those kicks, he proved it all season long, but all season long wasn't the playoffs, and you've got to produce in the playoffs. That's your legacy, that's what you're known for, and Nate -- tip of the hat from me anyway -- stood there and answered every question yesterday in the locker room. That says a lot about him as a man, but he's being paid to put the ball through those skinny uprights, and he didn't do it yesterday.

BROWN: Well, quickly Jay, let's talk about the San Diego Padres. They did make some moves over the last week or so, do you think they should have traded third baseman Kevin Kuozmanoff off for Scott Hairston?

PARIS: Well, I think it kind of fits into their template if you will. He gets a substantial raise, they're loaded with third basemen in their organization, including Chase Headley, who's been kind of miscast as a left fielder, so they figured instead of paying Kouz millions of dollars for being an average player, they're going to look elsewhere, and look for a little cheaper labor. And they've also got Heath Bell coming back next year. I thought that was key, that's a good move there. There's still some moves to be made but Kouz didn't quite pan out, you know, good hitter, but he's kind of like an Arizona tourist. He'd show up, late part of the year when it got hot, and you know he had slow starts every year, so, on we go.

DAVIS: And that is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris.

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