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San Diego Chargers blow another big prime-time lead

The old coaching staff is long gone. The general manager was fired. But the San Diego Chargers still know how to break the hearts of their fans like few other teams.

Leading by 21 points midway through the third quarter on "Monday Night Football," the Chargers watched the Houston Texans storm back to steal the game 31-28 on the road.

The collapse was reminiscent of San Diego's Monday night meltdown last year, when it blew a 24-0 halftime lead to the Denver Broncos. I also couldn't help but think of Philip Rivers' depressing fumbled snap on Halloween in 2011. Put the Chargers on ESPN, and disaster is soon to follow.

"There was never a feeling of desperation. We were in control. We stayed poised," Rivers said after the game. "We're sick, I'm sick, that we're not 1-0."

The Texans deserve a ton of credit for the comeback. Quarterback Matt Schaub was sharp all night, converting a number of third-and-long plays down the stretch. (There was no fourth-and-29 on Monday, but there was a third-and-18 to rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins.) Linebacker Brian Cushing made a sensational diving interception that he returned for the tying touchdown. Coach Gary Kubiak knew just when to break out a fake punt during all the madness.

Still, the Chargers failed to close. A first down or two in the fourth quarter would have won the game. Rivers brought back visions of 2009 with four early touchdown passes, but the offense completely bogged down late. San Diego's last five drives combined for 10 yards with an interception. Four of those drives didn't gain more than a yard.

The scale of the collapse will overshadow all the good things the Chargers did for much of the game. That's just how sports work; it's difficult to think clearly after blowing a 21-point lead. San Diego can't even blame Norv Turner for this one.

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