SAN DIEGO -- Norv Turner did his due diligence Monday, speaking with NFL officiating honcho Mike Pereira about a big blown call in the closing minutes of Sunday's loss at Denver, and submitting clips of other questionable calls.
He knows better, though, than to think the Chargers are going to be left with anything but another gut-wrenching loss.
"Anything that we talk about or anything that is discussed in terms of any of the rules or any of the calls, isn't going to change the outcome of that game," Turner said. "That game is going to be 39-38 forever."
"It's not frustration in my mind," Turner said Monday. "Obviously, you know, I've been through 'em. You're (ticked off) and then you know that no matter what you do, that's not going to change that decision that's been made. You've got to move on. It's gone. It's gone. We get ready and we get started and going and it's not going to be a thought in our mind. Our mind is, how do we prepare to play our best football game on Monday night?"
With Philip Rivers throwing for a career-best 377 yards and three touchdowns, the Chargers rallied from deficits of 21-3 and 31-17. They seemingly had taken control of a wild game and were leading 38-31 in the closing minutes when the Broncos reached the San Diego 1. On second-and-goal, Cutler reared back to throw and the ball slipped out of his hands, bounced off the grass and into linebacker Tim Dobbins' arms.
Referee Ed Hochuli blew his whistle when the ball came out, ruling it an incomplete pass. A review showed it should have been ruled a fumble. Instant replay rules, however, don't allow the opponent to gain possession in situations where the whistle has blown for an incompletion.
"All we can do to fix it is put the ball at the spot that it hit the ground, which is why we moved it back to the 10-yard line, and the down counts and it becomes third down," Hochuli said afterward.
That explanation wasn't good enough for Turner.
"On the last play, it was clearly a fumble," Turner fumed. "Ed came over, the official, and said he blew it. And that's not acceptable to me. This is a high-level performance game and that's not acceptable to have a game decided on that play."
Asked if Hochuli should be sanctioned, Turner said: "That's completely out of my area of responsibility and expertise. I'd hate to answer that one. Again, I spoke on it last night and you know, it's unfortunate."
General manager A.J. Smith didn't return a call seeking comment.
The blown call could affect Hochuli's status.
"Officials are held accountable for their calls," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail Monday. "They are graded on every play of every game. Ed has been an outstanding official for many years, but he will be marked down for this call. Under our evaluation system, an official's grades impact his status for potentially working the playoffs and ultimately whether or not he is retained."
LaDainian Tomlinson, slowed by a jammed right big toe, said the Chargers weren't the only ones bothered by the call.
"I don't know if there's any way you can work around it in your mind, it's just point-blank to me just a missed call," Tomlinson said. "You know, so many people are affected by it. That's the thing that's most disappointing. Because it's not just us, it's our families, it's the fans.
"Prime example: I call my wife after the game and she had been crying, all because of this call. It happens, but, you know, it's huge. That's a big play because they all realize how much we put into it, and that was the one thing she was talking about was how much heart this team had showed and was fighting back, and won the game. Had the game won and to have the game taken away from you, it was tough."
"It's tough," Rivers said. "These are probably the two worst losses I've ever been a part of. So, you move on. It should hurt and it should eat at you and it's OK to still be sick about it right now. But we've got to move forward and get ready for a home game against the Jets that hopefully will get us going."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press