San Diego Chargers crumble again when in tough spot


The San Diego Chargers avoided their normal slow start this season. We still don't know if they are any good.

New Orleans rallied to score the final 17 points in a 31-24 victory over the Chargers on Sunday night at the Superdome, giving the Saints their first victory of 2012 on a record-breaking night for Drew Brees.

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A number of calls went against the Chargers at the end of the game, including a roughing-the-passer penalty on Melvin Ingram that erased a San Diego touchdown and a potential 31-14 lead. The Saints scored on the ensuing drive to make the penalty a 14-point swing. A shaky offensive pass-interference penalty on Antonio Gates also hurt San Diego's cause on its final drive.

The Chargers couldn't close. They are 3-2, but look at the teams they beat: Oakland, Tennessee and Kansas City. Those are three of the worst teams in the NFL. The Saints could be placed in that "worst teams" category, too, because of their confused defense and lackluster running game, and the Chargers just lost to them.

There are things to like about this Chargers team, from Corey Liuget on defense to Philip Rivers' solid overall play. But the reality is they have faced two tough situations this season. They lost both of them, getting creamed at home against the Atlanta Falcons and losing in prime time Sunday night.

The Chargers escaped their habit of slow starts. We still have our doubts they will escape their habit of overall mediocrity.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.