|Chargers coach Norv Turner says he wants to stick to the facts rather than hear a lot of conjecture, but the facts indicate that his team hasn't gotten the job done very often in crunch time. (US Presswire)|
San Diego is coming off a disappointing 31-24 primetime loss Sunday night against the Saints (1-4). The defense surrendered 17 unanswered points in the final 15:11 of play while the offense frittered away opportunities with four costly penalties and two turnovers in their final two drives.
Coach Norv Turner began Wednesday's press conference by taking issue with writers and sports talk show hosts who have said the Chargers have a problem with closing out and winning close games. “There are a lot of theories about our team, a lot of people talking,” Turner said in response to criticism.
Like a lawyer making a closing argument for a guilty client, Turner intimated that the facts support the case that the Chargers are strong in close games. “Break down and look at facts -- and I care about facts. Not about conjuncture.”
Fact: The Chargers have not won or tied a game with a last-possession touchdown since Week 9 of 2009.
Fact: Since Week 9 of 2009, 10 of the Chargers 17 losses were by seven points or less.
Fact: Since Week 9 of 2009, only nine of the Chargers 28 wins were by seven points or less.
Fact: Turner is 49-69-1 in games decided by one score or less as a head coach in his career -- the second-worst record in NFL history.
Despite a history of shortcomings, Turner insisted his team can perform well in close games. “We just have some areas [where] we have to improve and play a little bit better,” Turner said. “We aren't very far away.”
Turner was pleased with how his team appeared to put the loss behind them and turn their focus to the Broncos. “I can't say enough about the veteran leadership we have on our team and the way they came back in here today, all business” Turner said. “I think there really is a sense of excitement about playing on Monday night. Playing a divisional opponent [and] an outstanding football team. It's an outstanding opportunity for us.”
QB Philip Rivers pointed out that the Chargers are still well positioned in the AFC West. “We are playing for a two-game lead in the division at the bye [week],” Rivers said. “If that don't get you fired up, nothing will. It's exciting. If you told us in August this is where we'd be - - I don't know anyone who would have turned down that.”
Injury update: No injury report was released Wednesday because with the Monday night game, the official work week does not start until Thursday. The following observations were made: CB Shareece Wright returned to practice for the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the season's opening kickoff. LT Jared Gaither (groin), K Nate Kaeding (groin) and RB Ryan Mathews (unknown) suited, but only observed practice.
What's next: The Chargers' normal work week begins Thursday with a practice out of pads. The padded practice will be on Friday this week.