San Diego, CA. A 27-3 loss, and at home nonetheless. This is an outcome which would put quite a damper on a nice 2-0 start to the season for any NFL team. For the San Diego Chargers, it was a rude awakening that they may not be anywhere near as good as they or their fans had thought. After wins over Oakland and Tennessee, the Chargers were feeling very good, especially when they have had a reputation for beginning most seasons very slowly. Philip Rivers looked like he had put a terrible 2011 behind him, and the defense had looked very strong during their first two games. With Atlanta coming to town, it had all the makings of another San Diego win, as it would be a litmus test of sorts to really see where this Chargers team is right now. Much to the surprise to nearly all NFL fans, this game was never close, as it was the visitors who made a strong case of being legit early season Super Bowl contenders.
What should everyone make of this 27-3 blowout loss to Atlanta? The Falcons were making the cross-country trip to the west coast, which has led to many losses over the years for east coast teams. They were also traveling after a Monday night game at home, so it was a very short week as well. This had all the earmarks for a sluggish performance from Atlanta, and another resounding Chargers victory outdoors in the intense heat. San Diego was looking to prove that their 2-0 start over two bad teams was not a fluke, and they were for real. Chargers fans had to feel that the team was back to themselves after a couple of down years which were fraught with disappointment. For years, this team has been the top dog in the AFC West for the most part, challenging the likes of New England, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh atop the AFC. 2012 was looking like a year where San Diego would reaffirm that they are back to being the favorites in the west, even with all of the attention that Denver has gotten with their new signal caller. So now at 2-1, and getting blown out at home, it shouldn’t necessarily be time for anyone in So-Cal to panic, right? It is just one loss, and the Chargers are still in first place. Overreacting is what most NFL fans do, and the Chargers have the talent to bounce back and move on from this ugly defeat. This would all be the proper thinking in this situation, but not in this case. This loss has the appearance of one that may very well stick with the San Diego Chargers a lot longer than normal.
The Chargers looked lethargic and disinterested versus Atlanta. It was a perfect time to flex their muscles and dominate a visiting team who should have been tired and had every excuse to come out flat. San Diego needed this game, and this win. It was more important than just one regular season game on the schedule. It was a game where they were facing a very good opponent, and a game where they could prove they were for real this year. Instead, what they showed was that the first two wins were simply wins over bad teams. After facing the Raiders and Titans, a blowout loss to the Falcons may drop this team back to square one and leave a lingering feeling of mediocrity within the locker room. With games against Kansas City, New Orleans, and Cleveland coming up in the next month, don’t be surprised if the Chargers lose one or more of these games that they should win. This is a team who at 4-1 last year, looked to be a contender in the AFC West. They then went on a six game losing streak, with a few of those losses coming against teams they should have easily defeated. Although still a talented team with a talented QB, this San Diego Chargers team may not be at the top of the AFC West much longer.
Denver Sports by J Simp