You remember this catch? Of course you do, FAITHFUL READER. It was at the end of the first half of the Sunday Night game in 2006. It is the only time the Chargers have beaten the Steelers since the 1994 AFC Championship game. It was the first time we saw that Philip Rivers could truly pass the Chargers to a win. Malcom Floyd would also go on to prove himself as the Chargers best deep threat that season. Yes, Jackson did catch that miracle pass in Seattle. But Floyd blew past his man in Cincy and I still maintain that if he hadn't gotten hurt (what a shock, I know) that we might have been able to Patriots away in January.
In fact, Floyd caught Rivers' first touchdown pass ever. In the 2004 finale against Kansas City, Rivers threw what appeared to be a massive chuck in the corner of the end zone. It ended up being a touchdown, of course. At the same time, the Jets were backing into the playoffs by losing to the Rams. I was at a bar watching the Bolts, obviously. That was the first of our many missed opportunities.
I hate to start things out like that, but it's what we think about all the time while watching this team. It's impossible to be a Charger fan without watching them through a prism of disappointment. When they finally atone for their playoff pratfalls, we'll stop dwelling on the past.
Obviously, I was thinking about Malcom Floyd after he got his big contract this week. I love the guy, but he showed his flaws a bit last week. He dropped one ball when he was about to get clocked and let another one go through his hands. Of course, had he held onto the first one and gotten injured I would have complained about that. We all would have. Let's hope Vincent Brown isn't that injury prone. Gates dropped a pass later on that was right in his gut. But Floyd is Rivers' primary target these days. I'm sure opposing defenses know that too, so Meachem and Royal need to get free and quick. It was just last offseason that it seemed the Chargers might let Floyd go and sign Rivers' old Wolfpack buddy Jericho Cotchery.
Was it a good business decision to sign Floyd right now? I don't quite see it, but it's not the worst thing AJ has done. I hope this Jared Gaither wave of optimism doesn't get swept away. It seems like he'll play in New Orleans, but who the **** knows. That stat in the U-T that Rivers has been pressured more than any quarterback in football was pretty frightening. It doesn't excuse Rivers' decision making, however.
Last Saturday I went to see Springsteen at Met Life Stadium. It was The Boss' 63rd birthday on Sunday and the show was delayed due to storms. True to form, Bruce came on and played until about 2:00AM. My buddy Mike saw Eli Manning on a golf cart before the show. I couldn't help think about talking to him the night before the draft and telling him that karma would catch up to him. That hurts.
But it didn't hurt more than the ass kicking I watched on Sunday. I am sure that Atlanta really is a good team, but they aren't as good as we made them look. They didn't need to be good against us. The Mathews fumble was a killer, especially since it was first game back and he really looked good up until that point. It took him one play to get hurt and two series to cough the ball up on the goal line. So he's already done both of the things he set out not to coming into this season. It has to get better from here on in, right? Never say that about the Chargers. Tomorrow they'll take the same field where Rivers mouthed "worst day ever." But it wasn't the worst day ever. It wasn't even the worst day the Chargers had last season.
In 2009, the Bolts came out of the bye and destroyed the Queefs. It came out later on that they were out late the night before. The same thing happened in the days leading up to the playoff loss. What's the moral of the story? You can do whatever the **** you want if you win. I don't have a problem with AJ calling out Mathews. He's the one who traded up to pick him. In Acee's piece, he suggested that AJ was beaming about Mathews' performance before the fumble. He has every right to say that there will be a zero tolerance policy on putting the ball on the turf. But it is something that you usually expect to hear from the coach.
Actually, Norv did suggest that Mathews wouldn't get an infinite number of chances. But I can't imagine it having much of an effect coming from him. Plus, how can the Chargers act like they are such hard asses when they still let Norv and Tweety draw paychecks? Of course, Kaeding won't be kicking tomorrow. Novak has proven to be a little unclutch as well, so I would have been fine with the Bolts picking something from Column C for their field goal kicker. Ironically, Arrowhead was the site of one of the few clutch kicks Kaeding ever had. In his rookie year, he had that field goal after Osgood chased down Dante Hall to force a fumble. Seriously, what other pressure kicks did Tweety ever make? The one against the Bengals in 2009? If he missed it, they would have gone into overtime. At the time, the 50-plus yarder seemed to be a sign of better things to come. But we know it was just a tease. In the 2008 Wild Card game, he kicked the field goal that forced OT. But that was a bit of a chip shot, as were the 4 he kicked in Foxboro in the AFC title game. Sadly, that was the last game the Chargers had without a touchdown before last week.
So I'll admit that last week made me think that the Bolts haven't learned a thing from the past. Rivers said it was just the team "stubbing its toe." But he said the same thing last year and they kept on losing for the same reasons. So even though some might say that this is a game the Chargers can win, I think it's a game they HAVE to win. Doing so won't convince me that this things are entirely different, but it will make me feel a hell of a lot better. After last week's game, I was thinking about this nugget from early Aerosmith. You know, back when they kicked ass?
Times they're a changin
Nothin' ever stands still
If I don't stop changin'
I'll be writin' out my will
It's the same old story
Never get a second chance
For a dance to the top of the hill
Baby I'm a dreamer
Found my horse and carriage
No more, No More
Talk to you tomorrow. Protect the dream, or at least don't put it on the ground.