By JAY PARIS
San Diego State lost by going wide right.
The San Diego Chargers fell by going wide right, too.
With their play-calling.
The Aztecs fell to Navy, 17-16, in Tuesday’s Poinsettia Bowl when Donny Hageman’s 34-yard, field-goal attempt wasn’t straight.
The Chargers’ season is kaput after Sunday’s 19-7 loss to the Chiefs.
Despite being in Arrowhead Stadium, the offense never got pointed the right way and the result was predictable.
“You score seven points you are not going to win many games,’’ quarterback Philip Rivers said.
Rivers is right and there’s that word again.
For the Chargers it was win-and-in. But the playoffs won’t include the Chargers for the fourth time in five seasons.
The reasons? Many and welcome to what’s being dissected in every NFL locker room where bags are being packed for the offseason.
But the Chargers were too conservative early, too conservative late and too bad the season is over.
Lean to the left, lean to the right, fight, fight, fight?
The Chargers got the listing to the right, but the left?
Not so much.
The Chargers played it closed to the vest with the biggest of pots at hand. We speculate that speaks more to the Chargers’ circumstances than coach Mike McCoy’s tepid strategy and coordinator Frank Reich’s docile play selection.
Hopefully McCoy ditched being bold because his offensive line was patchwork, many skill-level players were sitting and Rivers had more bruises than a bargain shopper after the holidays.
“There’s no denying we were a beat-up team,” Rivers said.
Maybe that explains, despite the desperate situation and dire straits, the Chargers displayed little gumption.
It seemed the Chargers were depleted emotionally as well. They started slow before showing the urgency required to win in Arrowhead. Maybe it was the fallout from the heart-stopping wins at Baltimore and San Francisco. Maybe it was relaxing when learning starting Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was idle.
Whatever, the Chargers didn’t win, didn’t deserve to win and don’t have anyone to blame but themselves.
“We’re not making excuses,” McCoy said. “We didn’t play well enough to win.”
The Chargers will long recall this Midwest trek as an opportunity wasted. They faced a backup quarterback leading a team that was in reverse — losers of four of its past five before Sunday.
But a Chargers season that was toe-tagged many times couldn’t be revived on one more occasion.
It’s rare to prevail in a game when allowing seven sacks, converting 2 of 11 third-downs and committing three turnovers.
It’s rare to prevail in a season when winning but two AFC West games — both against the Raiders — losing three home dates and scoring one offensive touchdown or less in five of the final eight games.
A season minus the playoffs is a season lost. But in losing, the Chargers (9-7) gave everyone a heck of a ride.
Which only means everyone aches for one more loop around the roller-coaster.
“We needed to win 10 to get No. 17 and we fell one short,” Rivers said. “Twenty teams will be upset and we will be one of them.”