SAN DIEGO — Initially, the side judge said it wasn’t.
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy thought it was. The replays, when shown in slow motion over Qualcomm’s Jumbotron and on ESPN’s broadcast showed the ball just clipping the end zone’s pylon.
After looking at the play again, referee Scott Green reversed the call and the touchdown, a pass from quarterback Philip Rivers to receiver Vincent Brown, was deemed good.
At the half, the touchdown appeared to have little significance with the Chargers holding on to a 21-7 lead entering the third quarter. What significance it may have had at the time showed that the ball, as oblong and uncaring as it is, was seemingly bouncing the Chargers’ way.
And then the ball bounced away from the Chargers and into the hands of the Texans.
The Texans would lead a comeback starting in the second half, finishing the Chargers off with a game ending field goal from Randy Bullock.
“This is a tough one, obviously,” McCoy said. “When you play a good team like the Houston Texans and…you’re up 28-7, you’ve got to put the game away. You can’t give them any plays.”
McCoy credited his players for playing extremely hard. “We just didn’t finish it. That’s what it comes down to, not finishing a football game. We’ve got to do a better job moving forward. There’s something we’re going to learn from every football game we play in. Good, bad, whatever it’s going to be,” he said.
A momentum swing for the Texans was likely capped in the fourth quarter when Cam Thomas was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty during a field goal attempt.
The explanation McCoy received from the officials was that going for the block Thomas kneed the Texans’ center in the head. “That’s what was called; you’ve got to live with it. That’s part of the game,” he said.
With the penalty enforced, the Texans were able to score on the following play to get within one score of tying the game.
“We got to do better at finishing a game,” said Dwight Freeney. “That’s a generic statement but we’ll figure it out when we get to the film and watch it.”
Freeney said there are a thousand reasons for the loss, though he added that they don’t know what they are yet.
“We have to watch the film and analyze it,” Freeney said.
“You learn through experiences and the more types of situations that you get into. You’ll learn how to finish them. We’ll try to finish them, and we’re working too to work at that. It’s not the end of the world, though. We’ll learn from it and try to get better.”
Manti Te’o, watching from the sidelines due to a lingering foot injury, said it was frustrating not being able to open the season on the field.
“Our team is really good,” Te’o said. “That’s what I took away from it. Now we just have to fix the little things and we should be fine.”
On finishing games, Te’o said, “Obviously there’s four quarters in a game and you’ve got to play every quarter and so we started off strong and we’ve just got to finish things in the back end.”
With the players off on Monday, the Chargers are facing a shortened week, having to travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles Sunday.