The San Diego Chargers are known for their usual slow start and hot finish in the month of December. But what about the start/finish in the game itself? There is an obvious advantage to scoring first and leading at halftime. Defining a team/franchise’s character includes many factors, including but not limited to, their ability to fight back in the face of adversity as well as keeping the gas pedal down to separate from one’s opponent.
Theories about starting out fast and procrastination have been researched using marathon runners all the way to college students. Marathon runners are typically told to run slower at the beginning of the race in order to have the energy to finish strong. On the other hand, students who procrastinated find themselves often physically sick, having a nervous breakdown and ultimately receive worse grades than those who perform right away. I decided to look into the end results of Charger games when they had to lead compared to being behind at halftime.
From the 2006 season through last season, not counting the postseason, when the Bolts have a lead at half, their record is 56-15. That equates to a 78.9% of games where San Diego leads at half, they win the game. That is incredible. You could spin it to the likes that the team doesn’t let off the gas pedal. Another spin would be that they have a huge lead and coast to victory; ending what should have been a blow-out to a nail-bitter. Both of those would be correct. There are many games where the blue and gold continued their dominance til the end. However, there are equally the same amount of games where they coasted and had to score in the 4th quarter to preserve a win. Either way you slice it, statistically for them to lead at half is an almost guarantee. Now let’s look at the flip-side.
During the same span, when the team from America’s finest city were down at halftime, their record is 17-30 – or a 36.2% of winning those games. A significant drop compared to when they are leading at the break. Sure there are games when the Chargers fought back only to lose by a few points, but the stats are there; as clear as a sunny day in San Diego.
Why the disparity in records when it comes to halftime? Perhaps one theory is that they tend to negate the run game and air it out; becoming one-dimensional. When any team becomes facile, defenses key on it and emphasis their attack one that one weapon. There is no more trick plays or play-action passes that will work in these scenarios. Of course another theory could be that the teams doesn’t have what it takes to come back and fight victoriously when seemingly defeated. I will let you decide.
Now of course, like snowflakes that will never see the gorgeous city of San Diego, every season is different from the others. In fact, there have been two seasons in which the Bolts had a winning record when losing at halftime; last season (3-2) and the infamous 2006 season (4-1). During that 14-2 run in ‘06, the one game which impressed me the most was against Cincinnati in week 9. The Chargers were down 28-7 and ended up victorious with a score of 49-41. This game was near the beginning of a 10 game win streak for the blue and gold and it also happened to be the biggest deficit at half where the end result was a win. Now I am sure you are wondering about how this relates to our playoff games.
In our 9 playoff games from 2006-2013, the Chargers have been up at half only three times – with a record of 1-2. Going against their normal self-parody of leading at the break, this is unnerving as we can all agree how important playoff games are in order to claim the sought after Super Bowl title. On the other hand the usually porous record when behind going into the second half, the Bolts are an even 3-3 in playoff games. Emotional roller coaster is one way to sum up all this data. Spinning this in a positive light, we know for a fact that the Chargers are never giving up in games that matter the most.
So far this season? San Diego is a dismal 1-3 in games they are trailing at half. Out of their combined 4 losses thus far, the only game the Super Chargers lost while leading at half was against Kansas City. There are only 5 games left in the season, and I don’t know about you, but I want to see our Bolts begin red-hot and enter the locker room with the lead.
What are your opinions/theories on this information? Why do the Chargers seem to need a halftime lead in order to be triumphant? Is it a character flaw? Or is it as simple as becoming too one-dimensional? Comment below and let the debate begin!!
Thanks for reading.