EDITOR’S NOTE: Everyone has a story to tell about their best or even worst memory being a San Diego Charger fan. What’s better than being able to share your story with others who can relate to the raw emotion you felt that day? This will be a reoccurring series that revisits various memories from Charger fandom. It will also grant other fans the opportunity to experience those vivid memories that may not have been able to at the time.

 

 

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Let’s think back at least a few years ago when the San Diego Chargers were dang near impeccable. Blazing through each game leaving their opponents in the smoke was almost like taking candy from a baby. It was apparent that during the 2009 season the Bolts were destined to make the playoffs and accomplish things they haven’t arguably done since 1994. Yet, it all came crashing down by a lousy three points.

The Chargers finished the 2009 campaign with a 13-3 record and took 1st place in the AFC West. I had such an immense feeling of pride and gratification for what San Diego was able to do that year. There were even some bragging rights when Philip Rivers marched into New York and took it to Eli Manning’s house in a 21-20 victory over the Giants. There’s no doubt that he thinks about that game every now and again.

The Bolts were set up to face off against the 9-7 New York Jets in the AFC Divisional playoff game at the Q. Full of confidence, the team looked to propel themselves past this easy win to face off against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. Yet, the game was poorly overlooked.

A low scoring match turned into an anxious nail biter as the clock ticked down to its final minutes. In clutch fashion, Rivers ran into the end zone and scored a 1-yard touchdown. Desperate, the Jets were left with nothing but to attempt an onside kick. Whether it was an act of God or not, the Jets recovered on San Diego’s 29-yard line. Even with a stout defense, the Bolts couldn’t stop the Gang Green from converting on a 4th and 1; granting them the first down in the final seconds of the game.

Shortly after watching Mark Sanchez and the Jets kneel down to end regulation, I felt this emotion I hadn’t experienced before. Sick to my stomach, I sat there in my living room, glaring at the television screen in shock, and thought “how could this be?” I found myself staring aimlessly and faintly hearing my so-called friends boastfully saying “the Chokers are at it again” as they laughed in arrogance. How was it even possible that the Chargers, a team that excelled in the regular season, could have taken the Jets so lightly? My fandom took a huge hit that night as I lay speechless on the carpet floor.

No, I wasn’t around for the Holy Roller, and nor was I around for other various heartbreaking games that occurred before I was even born. Yet to me, this one was the most heartbreaking of all in most recent years. I would never admit it, but it was possible that I cried that night as I watched another AFC team that wasn’t the Bolts continue onto the AFC Conference Championship game.

As I look back, the Chargers have had some rough seasons. I honestly can’t blame non San Diego fans for criticizing the Bolts for their struggles. When the word “choke” is uttered by anyone, I can’t help but get red in the face and feel the urge to backlash. I never want to feel like I did that night, but I know that’s unlikely. Football is known for upsets, shockers, and heartbreak. Have you ever heard the term “any given Sunday”? It’s a phrase often used in professional football which implies that any team has the capability to enter a match-up and take away the win.

The 2009 AFC Divisional game has forever granted me the disgust for the New York Jets. Call it as you will, but I will always remember that game as the one that got away. I can vividly remember, probably etched in my mind by now, the incredible LaDainian Tomlinson sitting on the sideline and looking at the scoreboard in disbelief and disappointment all at the same time. I felt, as did most of you, the pure letdown of the decade in that moment. I wish the Chargers will never have a game like that again, but that’s unrealistic. It is honestly one of the worst games that will forever be imprinted in my memory.

 

Briana Soltis

12 Responses to Memories from a Chargers Fan: The 2010 AFC Divisional game

  • Anonymous says:

    The worst memory of mine was the loss in Jan 2007 Divisional Playoff game against the Pats. Coming of a 14-2 season and LT breaking the all-time TD record to go one and done in the playoffs. It’s something I still haven’t recovered from.

  • Briana Soltis
    Briana Soltis says:

    I can see that being a tough one too. I guess I remeber my so-call “friends” laughing in my face when they lost to the Jets. Very embarassing

  • frank says:

    I was at that game and it as literally unbelievable what happened. I just remember Kaeding missing field goal after field goal (about 4 in total I thought). After Sanchez took a final knee, it literally started to rain in the stadium as if the Charger God’s were crying. I looked up along the stadium rim and there was a guy walking along the top rim. I thought he was going to jump and commit suicide but as it turns out it was a stadium working going to turn on the lights or something. There were a bunch of Charger fans on field level ripping their jerseys off and throwing them on the field in disgust. It was a horrible, horrible day.

    • Briana Soltis
      Bri says:

      WOW. I didn’t know it was that bad at the stadium. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sure there are worse games but this has stuck with me since then and probably always will.

  • Briana Soltis
    Bri says:

    I truly appreciate the positive comments! It has been expressed to me that fans do not like to discuss or talk about the lows of being a fan and that I should stick to the high’s. Life would be fairly boring if we didn’t talk about either. Again, thank you!

  • Will McCafferty says:

    I was at both Jets playoff losses and they were both excruciating. I also watched the NE loss on TV. My personal worst feeling was losing the SB. Even though the Bolts were heavy underdogs and many felt they were lucky to be there, it was the first, and so far only, time they were in the SB. I think what made it worse was the way they lost. From the first SF offensive play, you could sense it would be a long day. It was never close, despite a good second half by the offense.

    • Briana Soltis
      Briana Soltis says:

      I have heard that the NE game is the worst memory for a lot of Charger fans. Maybe I will write about that in a few weeks. Will, maybe I could take your perspective and write about the SB loss in 1995? I’m positive people would like to read that. Unfortunately, I was only 6 years old lol

      • I was living in FL in ’95, quit my job after we won the AFC Championship, and went to work with my ticket broker friend for 2 weeks in Miami to earn a ticket to the big game (and amenities). I had the sinking feeling the whole time we’d lose, but it was much worse than I could image. It was never even close. My friend and I can be seen on highlight reels when Ricky Watters runs in for a TD, we’re in the 1st row of the endzone. but all you see is the top of our heads since we were looking down at our shoelaces. Still not as painful as the NE game in ’07, we were expected to win that one!!

  • Bri, the flip side to the SB loss was the victory that year in the AFC championship over the Steelers. That was the happiest moment of my life outside of the birth of my children and my wedding day. I was living in Orlando and there TONS of transient Steelers fans there. I was at the local (huge) sports bar and it was like a ratio of 5 Steelers to 1 Chargers fan. We were being heckled the entire time. When Gibson batted down that O’Donnell pass and it was determined we were in the SB, my friend and I were running around the place, screaming our lungs out. I was literally bawling like a baby. It’s hard to believe that was 20 years ago. We are due for another!

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