Shaky Los Angeles Chargers take a Texas two-step step backwards in their quest for the playoffs

Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert (10) climbs away from Houston Texans’ DeMarcus Walker (55) … [+] during the decisive defeat of the Chargers on Sunday, which thwarted their playoff plans. (AP Photo / Eric Christian Smith)


It was a Chargers loss to a Houston team that was decimated with injuries that will be long remembered.

Face Plant in Los Angeles on Sunday in H-Town? Well, that too, because the Chargers produced a 41-29 belly flop to thwart their playoff plans.

When the Chargers played in San Diego and Houston’s troop replied to the Oilers, there was another ugly defeat.

Longtime Chargers watchers recall when the Oilers, minus the standout running back Earl Campbell and quarterback Dan Pastorini, angered the Dan Fouts-led Chargers in the 1979 postseason.

Sunday’s disaster for the Texans isn’t as costly as the Pratfall was an elimination game decades ago. Still, LA picked its worst time to deliver its most inept performance of the season.

Were the Chargers (8-7) without key contributors like linebacker Joey Bosa, wide receiver Mike Williams, Safety Derwin James Jr. and running back Austin Ekeler?

Yes, and the Texans’ list of unavailable players dwarfed that. However, it didn’t stop Houston (4-11) from taking one of the most unlikely wins of this NFL season.

The Chargers had their rising star in quarterback Justin Herbert and their proclaimed rookie coach wizard in Brandon Staley. But neither did much and the rest of their tour group couldn’t grasp this gap.

LA have now lost two games in a row and could very easily end the season with their nose against the playoff window with two games left. It’s outside the glass, and if so, then it’s partly because of the terrible competition on Sunday at the NRG Stadium.

Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers watches his team’s devastating loss to. from the sidelines … [+] the Houston Texans Sunday. (AP Photo / Eric Christian Smith)


“That’s the tough side of the NFL,” said Staley. “It was a struggle for us all season and it will continue like that.”

Especially after the Chargers took a haymaker from the Texans that same day, the Kansas Chiefs Chiefs cruised for their sixth AFC West crown in a row.

That’s the same squad the Chargers had on the ropes in the game before the Houston horror. While LA rolled snake eyes on a series of fourth downs, which is the gambit of the playing Staleys, the Chargers worked overtime looking for a season sweep from the Chiefs.

Then came the Sunday bankruptcy, which limited an 11-day period of time for chargers to switch from a playoff lock to someone fiddling with the key.

With Houston’s 31-year-old Rex Burkhead plunging to a career high of 145 yards and the Chargers having no answer for quarterback David Mills, the result was a long flight home with their season hanging by a thread.

The Chargers are far from toast, but it’s a crowded house at 8-7 of the wildcard contenders. Few have as much at stake as the Chargers as they continue to battle for their place in the pecking order of the LA sports landscape.

While the Chargers stumble around as if to stiffen the last call, the Los Angeles Rams grabbed another playoff spot on Sunday by beating the Minnesota Vikings at 30:23.

The Chargers SoFi Stadium landlord looks good for a piercing postseason run, and not so long ago the same was said of the Exciting Chargers.

But after a surprising 4-1 bolt from goal, the bolts are left with a game over .500 with the visiting Denver Broncos and a trip to the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Texans hit the jackpot wrestling with the Chargers when their numerous blemishes were exposed. Staley was hired in part for his success in coaching defense. But as this season goes by, it’s this side of the ball that leaves a trail of banana peel.

“Whether we won or lost, it’s just a game in the NFL,” said Staley. “If we had won, nothing would have happened to us.”

But they lost and everything came into focus. The Chargers, with such a porous defense, are likely to miss the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.

Those numbers speak for an organization with a head coach who makes a living by playing analytics and trying to generate a new fan base, not in favor of the Chargers.

“We just made too many mistakes, that’s all. We didn’t play very well and they did. “

This quote belongs to Fouts after he heaved five interceptions in the 1979 playoff loss to Houston. But actually it’s timeless and could be attributed to anyone who worked for the Chargers on Sunday.

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