SAN DIEGO — Embattled coach Mike McCoy was livid after his San Diego Chargers blew a 13-point lead with less than seven minutes left against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
There was no way he could try to sugarcoat this pratfall the way he had with the two other losses this season in which the Chargers had a late lead.
His state of mind after Sunday’s 35-34 loss?
“Furious,” he said. “Major disappointment. I mean, to have the lead we had and to fall apart? Major disappointment. Frustration is an understatement. I can’t say right now in this microphone how I really, truly feel.
“I mean, to have the lead we had and to fall apart Major disappointment.”
With the Chargers trying to protect a 34-21 lead, Melvin Gordon fumbled and Darryl Tapp recovered at the San Diego 13, setting up Brees’ 5-yard TD pass to Michael Thomas on fourth-and-2 to pull to 34-28 with 4:50 to go.
Travis Benjamin then fumbled after a reception and Nate Stupar recovered at the San Diego 31. Seven plays later, fullback John Kuhn scored his third TD of the game, on a 1-yard run. The PAT made it 35-34.
Rivers, who was Brees’ understudy for his first two NFL seasons, was intercepted by B.W. Webb with 1:10 to go.
“Everything that happens, it starts on me,” McCoy said.
But he didn’t hold back.
“I think Melvin Gordon is a good ballplayer. He put the ball on the ground,” McCoy said. “Travis Benjamin put the ball on the ground. There are certain things that happen in this game that are unacceptable. The return game let the ball hit the ground. It’s everybody. It’s just not one player. It’s all three (phases) that at some point in the game did a poor job.
“We are making critical mistakes at critical times. We are giving other teams the opportunity to beat us. We are giving it away.”
Gordon had a fumbling problem last year as a rookie that got him benched twice.
“We don’t have a drill to fumble. We have plenty of ball security drills, protection drills, tackling drills,” McCoy said. “There are plenty of drills out there.”
The Chargers seemed to have it in control after Rivers directed a 14-play, 74-yard scoring drive capped by Gordon’s second 1-yard scoring run of the game to give the Chargers a 31-21 lead with 12:15 to play. Rivers kept the drive alive with a pinpoint, 16-yard completion to Tyrell Williams to the New Orleans 7-yard line.
Josh Lambo kicked a 47-yard field goal with 8:39 left to make it 34-21.
“It seems like each loss we say, ‘I don’t know if it can get any tougher than that,’ ” Rivers said. “Then somehow we find a way to top each one. This one is really unlike any other that I can remember in the way it happened.
“You’re up 13 with 6:50 left and two snaps later, you’re down one. So it’s just tough.”
The Chargers have lost 15 off their last 20 games.
“You try to laugh to keep from crying, literally,” Rivers said. “You kind of throw your hands up and say, ‘What in the world just happened?’ This will be a time we have to grow closer together and stay together tight.”
Fans are in an uproar, and this isn’t a good time for that. The Chargers will ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve a $1.1 billion public subsidy in the form of increased hotel occupancy taxes to help build a stadium and convention center annex downtown.
Asked about his job security, McCoy said: “I know one way and that is to come in tomorrow and work my (rear end) off and get this team ready to go to Oakland. I don’t worry about any of that. I’m coaching this football team the way I know how to do it and we are going to grind.”