In front of a white-hot sellout crowd at Qualcomm Stadium, the San Diego Chargers defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, 30-21.
However, that wasn’t the entire story of the game.
Questionable calls by the officiating crew along with the return to All-Pro form by Tight End Antonio Gates seemed to be the highlights in this man’s opinion. After the Chargers took an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter, Perch Harvin received a pitch from Russell Wilson and ran along the sidelines for a 51 yard touchdown. Replays showed that Harvin clearly stepped out-of-bounds. The side judge on the play also pointed to where he stepped out-of-bounds. The Fox television broadcasters even brought in Mike Pereira, referee turned analyst, to explain how the review process works. Yet, the play was confirmed.
Since the play was allowed to stand as called, the Seahawks gained the lead, 7-3.
In a future possession, Rivers, who isn’t known for his mobility, ran out-of-bounds and was pushed by Seahawk Linebacker Bobby Wagner. Rivers, livid at the late, unnecessary contact by Wagner, confronted the defender. No penalty was called.
On a later drive, as the Chargers had the ball in the red zone, a questionable holding call was given to tight end John Phillips that took away a touchdown run by Ryan Mathews. Gates eventually scored a touchdown to put the Chargers ahead, 10-7.
Officials tried to make amends by calling a personal foul late hit penalty on Seahawk linebacker Bruce Irvin which lead to Antonio Gates’ second touchdown and a lead for the Chargers 20-7.
As I sat and watched the game from the comfort of my home, I couldn’t help but feel that the officials didn’t seem to want the Bolts to win. The blown call on Harvin’s run was merely the beginning. Non-calls on obvious penalties and flags on questionable calls (that went against the Chargers) and it felt as if the San Diego was battling two opponents: the Seahawks and the officials.
Seriously, how can officials who monitor the games in New York miss such an easy call? The National Football League is in full crisis mode with off the field incidents involving Ray Rice and Adrian Petersen. The Chargers-Seahawks game was also a nationally televised game. The game showed a sizable audience that the league is constantly making mistakes. Granted, mistakes happen. I get that. Yet considering the pains the league has made to get calls right, the NFL can’t afford any more blows to its reputation.
At end of the day, the Chargers overcame a lot this Sunday. The infamous “12th Man” of Seattle were mostly held in check. Although I was appalled at a brief “Seahawks” chant I heard in the third quarter. Gametime temperatures on the field reached 120 degrees and the team overcame that. Richard Sherman, famed Seahawk cornerback, claimed he was the best in the league. Philip Rivers threw the ball in Sherman’s direction on multiple occasions and Sherman wasn’t a factor.
Yes, that was one tall mountain that San Diego climbed on Sunday. Not many experts gave the team a chance (the preseason game earlier didn’t help), but the Chargers controlled the ball, pressured Russell Wilson, and looked good against a team that was perceived to be unbeatable.
I, for one, hope there’s still more of what Gates showed fans on Sunday. I hope the Mathews injury isn’t serious. Additionally, I hope Qualcomm Stadium will continue to host sellout games and host loud, loyal Chargers fans.
I’m wondering now if the organization would consider “persevere” as a team motto.
Photo Credit: James Ebo and Raymond Broome