The San Diego Chargers blew a 21-point third quarter lead and lost 31-28 to the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Does that storyline sound familiar? It should, because San Diego blew a 24-0 halftime lead and lost 35-24 to the Denver Broncos last year on MNF (giving us this precious GIF for the ages).
This time around, an ill-timed penalty help swing things in favor of the Texans.
The Texans were down 28-14 early in the fourth quarter and were going to settle for a 37-yard field goal on 4th and 8. They made the kick, which would have changed the score to 28-17. But Chargers defensive tackle Cam Thomas was penalized 10 yards for unnecessary roughness for making contact with the center on the field goal attempt. Thomas was penalized as part of a new rule that states the snapper is defenseless and cannot be contacted “in the head or with the crown, hairline or forehead parts of the helmet to any parts of the body.”
The 10-yard penalty gave the Texans first down at the nine, and Matt Schaub threw a touchdown pass to Owen Daniels on the next play to make it 28-21. Both teams punted on their next possessions, and then Texans linebacker Brian Cushing made a beautiful interception on Philip Rivers and returned it for a score to tie the game. The Texans kicked a winning field goal as time expired to win 31-28.
The penalty wasn’t as bad as the one Lavonte David committed to hand the New York Jets a victory in Week 1, but it was nearly as critical.