Chargers fall to 0-2 after late game problems against Titans

Denny Simmons / / USA TODAY NETWORK
The Chargers, blow another fourth quarter lead with less than three minutes left, this time in a 27-24 OT loss to Tennessee.

It took overtime for the Chargers to lose 27-24 to the Tennessee Titans, but it might as well have felt like deja vu for them.

It was similar to the loss last week to the Dolphins. Explosive plays, penalties, and bad offensive play calling late led to their 0-2 start.

The secondary was called into question last week after they allowed Tua Tagovailoa to throw for 466 yards while Tyreek Hill had 215 of them, along with two touchdowns.

On Sunday, after the Chargers went up 11-0, they allowed Ryan Tannehill to throw a 70-yard pass to receiver Treylon Burks to set them up for a Derrick Henry one-yard touchdown. 

To start their final drive of regulation, Tannehill went to Chris Moore for a 49-yard gain on Michael Davis.

The secondary struggled again, and this time, there was no Tyreek Hill.

“We got full belief in those guys, everybody that plays for us in the back seven, it’s early in the season, and we’re gonna keep getting better,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said.

After halftime, the Chargers defense made several mistakes. They faced a 3rd-and-13 on their 38-yard line when safety Derwin James was called for a hitting a defenseless receiver call when he hit receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. That moved the chains.

A couple of plays later, the Titans faced 3rd-and-6 at the Chargers 24-yard line when Tannehill’s pass went incomplete, but he was hit late by Sebastian Joseph-Day, which was called. The Titans turned it into seven points after a Tannehill 12-yard touchdown run.

“If those don’t happen, then we’re off the field, and we feel a lot different about our day,” Staley said.

The little things and mistakes that the Chargers keep making have them at 0-2.

The offense wasn’t perfect at all. The bright spot was that they got receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams going as they combined for 16 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns. The problem is Josh Palmer and Quentin Johnston didn’t impact the game.

Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was very creative at times to get players open and score points, but when it’s counted, the offense stalled.

It stalled last week when the Chargers needed a touchdown late to put more pressure on Miami, and it did this week against Tennessee.

The Chargers’ offense stalled twice after Allen’s second touchdown, which could have put the game away. They also moved the ball up on their last drive of regulation, but as soon as they got in the red zone, they struggled like last week.

On a crucial third down before the end of regulation, Harold Landry got through and sacked quarterback Justin Herbert to make Cameron Dicker tie the game instead of win it.

“Their front is really good; tough block, and we just didn’t do a good job today,” Staley said.

They also had terrible play calling on the three and out in overtime. On their third down, the offense looked confused by what was supposed to happen, so Herbert threw the ball away and never saw it again.

Titans kicker Nick Folk put the game away with his 41-yard game winning field goal.

There were positives from both sides of the ball. The Chargers defense sacked Tannehill five times, with Joey Bosa eating twice and Tuli Tuipulotu eating for the first time.

Joshua Kelley and the run game wasn’t there on Sunday, but Herbert was moving the ball up the field consistently, with Allen catching for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Starting 0-2 differs from what anyone on this team pictured as their start.

Staley got testy during his postgame press conference. He was asked if there are lingering effects from the Jacksonville Jaguars playoff loss last season.

“Our team has played its heart out in two games, and we’ve lost two tough games, but this has nothing to do with the Jacksonville game,” Staley said. “If you ask anyone in our locker room, it has nothing to do with the Jacksonville game, and that’s just the truth.”

He wasn’t happy after that question when he was asked about the mood in the locker room after the loss.

“How do you think the mood is?” Staley asked. “How do you think it is? It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s a tough, tough group, and there’s a lot of pride in that room. We put a lot into this, and we got a good football team. So we’ve lost two tough games. We’ve got to bounce back, learn from our mistakes and be ready for Minnesota.”

That Minnesota game will be challenging, especially with them having some extra days rest after playing on Thursday night and being 0-2. 

It is still a long season, but they must correct this before it is too late.

“We have 15 games ahead of us,” Staley said. “We’re doing a lot of good things out there. The mistakes that we made out there, we can correct all of them. We’ve got a really good group in all three phases.”