The Jaguars tried their hardest to gift-wrap a win for the Chargers on Sunday, but the “you take it; no, you take it!” battle extended into overtime, where the Jaguars finally accepted a 20-17 victory. It was a wild ride, so let’s examine the best parts of two teams desperately trying to lose a football game.
Immediately after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles safety Tre Boston intercepted a Blake Bortles pass. The Chargers, up 17-14, weren’t yet in position to run out the clock—Jacksonville still had all three of its timeouts—but the play put the fate of the game in L.A.’s hands.
The Chargers handed the football to running back Austin Ekeler to try to pick up a first down … and he immediately coughed it up. Jacksonville’s Tashaun Gipson recovered the fumble and ran into the end zone, and for a moment it looked like the Jags would win in regulation. But the officials ruled that Gipson was down by contact on the Chargers’ 36-yard line, and Jacksonville got the ball there down three with 1:45 left to play.
Already in field goal range, the Jags seemingly had overtime secured … until they didn’t. On second-and-10, wide receiver Marqise Lee ran a route near the end zone and got sandwiched between two Chargers defenders, which appeared to draw a flag for pass interference. Lee decided to celebrate.
Here’s the thing about celebrating a play that’s not an accomplishment for the offense, but actually a mistake by the defense: It’s taunting. After his dance, Lee mimicked a referee throwing a flag, presumably to reference the apparent pass interference call—but the officials immediately flagged Lee, a 15-yard penalty. Then, after a discussion on the field, the officials decided that the hit on Lee was clean and that there was no flag on the Chargers, giving the Jaguars a third-and-25 from L.A.’s 37-yard line.
On the next play, Blake Bortles did this:
With 1:24 left in the game, the Chargers were suddenly in the same position as before: They just needed to kill time to preserve their would-be three-point win. But Melvin Gordon wasn’t able to pick up a first down—despite three tries—and the Chargers chewed up just 19 seconds of clock, punting with 1:08 remaining.
Jacksonville, who had already inexplicably abandoned the run earlier in the game, called six straight passing plays for Bortles. He picked up 21 yards on those dropbacks, and the Chargers gifted him another 15 when defensive end Joey Bosa was called for a late hit with just 20 seconds left in the game.Jacksonville kicker Josh Lambo booted a 34-yard kick through the uprights just a few plays after the Bosa hit to send the game into overtime. Each team was trying so hard to lose that it only made sense that we would need more time to see who’d end up taking the L.
The Jags got the ball first in extra time and proceeded to rely, once again, on Bortles to generate offense. Predictably, the team went nowhere and quickly gave the ball back to L.A.
Then Philip Rivers did this:
Jacksonville was called for taunting again—this time by Aaron Colvin—but the team was already in chip-shot field goal range. And just to fully make sure the Jags took the win this time, the Chargers committed a defensive delay of game to turn what would have been a 35-yard attempt into a 30-yarder.
Lambo nailed the chip-shot field goal, and we could finally determine which team was the better loser of football games: the Los Angeles Chargers. And really, losing unloseable games is the thing the Chargers are best at—Jacksonville never had a chance of stealing the crown.