Chargers try to move on
By Bernie Wilson
SAN DIEGO ó Norv Turner did his due diligence Monday, speaking with NFL officiating honcho Mike Pereira about a big blown call in the closing minutes of Sundayís loss at Denver, and submitting clips of other questionable calls.
He knows better, though, than to think the Chargers are going to be left with anything but another gut-wrenching loss.
iAnything that we talk about or anything that is discussed in terms of any of the rules or any of the calls, isnít going to change the outcome of that game,î Turner said. iThat game is going to be 39-38 forever.î
On Sunday, Turner was steamed after an errant whistle erased Jay Cutlerís lost fumble in the closing minutes. The Broncos scored two plays later, and a daring two-point conversion gave them the lead.
The Chargers, favored by many to reach the Super Bowl, were left stunned and 0-2.
iItís not frustration in my mind,î Turner said Monday. iObviously, you know, Iíve been through íem. Youíre (ticked off) and then you know that no matter what you do, thatís not going to change that decision thatís been made. Youíve got to move on. Itís gone. Itís gone. We get ready and we get started and going and itís not going to be a thought in our mind. Our mind is, how do we prepare to play our best football game on Monday night?î
Up next for the Chargers is a prime-time matchup against Brett Favre and the New York Jets.
With Philip Rivers throwing for a career-best 377 yards and three touchdowns, the Chargers rallied from deficits of 21-3 and 31-17. They seemingly had taken control of a wild game and were leading 38-31 in the closing minutes when the Broncos reached the San Diego 1. On second-and-goal, Cutler reared back to throw and the ball slipped out of his hands, bounced off the grass and into linebacker Tim Dobbinsí arms.
Referee Ed Hochuli blew his whistle when the ball came out, ruling it an incomplete pass. A review showed it should have been ruled a fumble. Instant replay rules, however, donít allow the opponent to gain possession in situations where the whistle has blown for an incompletion.
iAll we can do to fix it is put the ball at the spot that it hit the ground, which is why we moved it back to the 10-yard line, and the down counts and it becomes third down,î Hochuli said afterward.
That explanation wasnít good enough for Turner.
iOn the last play, it was clearly a fumble,î Turner fumed. iEd came over, the official, and said he blew it. And thatís not acceptable to me. This is a high-level performance game and thatís not acceptable to have a game decided on that play.î
Asked if Hochuli should be sanctioned, Turner said: iThatís completely out of my area of responsibility and expertise. Iíd hate to answer that one. Again, I spoke on it last night and you know, itís unfortunate.î
General manager A.J. Smith didnít return a call seeking comment.
The blown call could affect Hochuliís status.
iOfficials are held accountable for their calls,î NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail Monday. iThey are graded on every play of every game. Ed has been an outstanding official for many years, but he will be marked down for this call. Under our evaluation system, an officialís grades impact his status for potentially working the playoffs and ultimately whether or not he is retained.î
LaDainian Tomlinson, slowed by a jammed right big toe, said the Chargers werenít the only ones bothered by the call.
iI donít know if thereís any way you can work around it in your mind, itís just point-blank to me just a missed call,î Tomlinson said. iYou know, so many people are affected by it. Thatís the thing thatís most disappointing. Because itís not just us, itís our families, itís the fans.
iPrime example: I call my wife after the game and she had been crying, all because of this call. It happens, but, you know, itís huge. Thatís a big play because they all realize how much we put into it, and that was the one thing she was talking about was how much heart this team had showed and was fighting back, and won the game. Had the game won and to have the game taken away from you, it was tough.î
Nonetheless, the Chargers know they have to move on.
A week earlier, the Chargers lost 26-24 to the Carolina Panthers on Jake Delhommeís 14-yard pass to Dante Rosario as time expired.
iItís tough,î Rivers said. iThese are probably the two worst losses Iíve ever been a part of. So, you move on. It should hurt and it should eat at you and itís OK to still be sick about it right now. But weíve got to move forward and get ready for a home game against the Jets that hopefully will get us going.î