posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 09:58 PM
As I stated on one thread before, back in 1979 and the early 1980's, the San Diego Chargers had a team which was presumed destined for lots of Super
Bowl rings. But it didn't happen.
In 1979, they slaughtered the defending champs, the 3-time Super Bowl-winning Steelers, 35-7, in the regular season. The result of that game was
homefield advantage throughout the playoffs for Dan Fouts and his awesome offensive machine. Nobody could wait for the rematch in the AFC Title game.
And to make it super-easy, the Chargers' first round foe, the Houston Oilers, were without their whole offense--by far the game's greatest running
back, Earl Campbell, plus QB Dan Pastorini, who was by no means great, but was perhaps the only man in America who could overthrow Ayatollah
Well, nobody in the country could believe it, but San Diego lost. Fouts threw something like SIX interceptions, FOUR of which went to one defender,
and the Oilers hung on for a win and a rematch, again futile (and blind-zebra-scarred) with the Steelers. S'OK, they said. This offense is so
awesome, we'll get them next year, especially seeing as how the Steelers are really aging.
Came 1980. Steelers indeed aged, and didn't even make the playoffs. The Oilers barely did, and were eliminated at once. The Chargers were again the
#1 seed, but played poorly in their first game and barely beat the upstart Buffalo Bills. Then, in the AFC Title Game, they hosted the Raiders, who
had the temerity to think they would become the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl. The Raiders, who had already beaten Earl Campbell's team,
and then beaten the Browns in arctic weather on the basis of two Jim Plunkett bombs. (14-12 I think.)
And it was like a bomb hit the stadium. Before the Chargers' fans knew it, Oakland was ahead something like 24-0, on absurdities like a pass which
went off an intended receiver's fingers, sailed well downfield and was caught by another Raider receiver, who, because of the deflection, was the only
one down there. He tucked it in, turned around and jogged to the endzone.
The Chargers tried like hell to overcome that deficit with their great offense, and eventually cut it to something like 31-24, but the Raiders got the
ball with about 8 minutes left and Plunkett, a real veteran, managed to kill the entire clock. End of another season.
The next year, while the Chargers were at least as good on offense (maybe better), their defense took a huge fall. They went to Miami and won what
readers have seen me describe as the greatest game in NFL history, 41-38, in double OT, in a game which guaranteed tight end Kellen Winslow's place in
the Hall of Fame. Then they went to Cleveland for one of the harshest weather games ever played--and they, especially their most important player,
Fouts, fell completely to pieces, and they got their tails kicked by a team not intimidated by super-cold weather.
The next year was football's "strike year," with a 9-game season and 8 teams from each conference making the playoffs. The Chargers pulled off
another offensive masterpiece in their first game, scoring two TD's in the late 4th quarter to come from behind against the Steelers and make it to
the second round.
The second round took place in Miami, where people remembered oh-so-well the 41-38 game. Miami piled up tons of points again, but Don Shula and
company had figured out how to deal--in good weather, no less--with the great Fouts and his arsenal of receivers, and they routed San Diego.
And that was it. The team that looked like a lock for many Super Bowl appearances never made a single one.
Here is my question:
At what point do we start entertaining the possibility that, because of chokes and bad luck and outcoaching and perhaps just not being as good as they
look, the Indianapolis Colts may be this generation's version of those dazzling Chargers teams? Yes, I know how great Indi looks on offense. Trust
me, they don't look any better than Fouts looked when he had all his weapons. And I know Indi has a defense, unlike the Charger teams of 1981 and
thereafter. But the Chargers of 1979 and 1980 had a pretty damn good defense, too, before Louie Kelcher gained, oh, 250 pounds, and other things went
IS THIS TEAM A MODERN VERSION OF THOSE CHARGERS--a combo of being snake-bit, choke-prone and maybe, just maybe, not as good as we fans fancy them to