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Most heartbreaking moments in Los Angeles Chargers history

What are the most heartbreaking moments in Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers history?

Ask a rival and they will remind you that every year feels heart breaking since the Chargers haven’t made a Super Bowl since the 90’s or won a Super Bowl period. Their history includes success in the early part of the 60’s followed by long playoff droughts from 1966-79, 1983-91, and 1996-2003.

The Bolts are more respectable lately but still only made the playoffs twice in the last decade. They’ve lost their fair share of games on special team errors and late turnovers. That is a lot of mediocrity and heartbreak to sum into a few moments.

Still, these are the most hurtful moments in a relationship filled with tragic history for Chargers fans across Los Angeles and San Diego.

5. No Super Bowl for Fouts

Look up players or teams to not win a Super Bowl and Dan Fouts usually comes up. That’s pretty heartbreaking as is considering he ended his career as their all-time leading passer.

With Fouts, the Chargers lost in the AFC Championship game in 1980 and 1981. They also lost by a field goal in the Divisional round in 1979 despite beating both the Super Bowl teams (the Rams and Steelers) with a high-powered offense that season. In 1981, they lost a freezing cold AFC title game to the Cincinnati Bengals.

However, 1980 is the most heartbreaking since their season was ended by the Raiders in the AFC Championship game. Fouts threw 336 yards and two touchdowns as the Chargers tried to pull off a comeback win versus their arch-rival. They held the Raiders to only six points in the second half after trailing 28-14 in the first half.

Still, they fall short in 1980 and Oakland going on to win the Super Bowl over the Eagles didn’t make that loss any easier.  The next year, the lost 34-13 to the Dolphins during a strike season. Their run was over after that trouncing so 1980 ended up being the closest they got to a Super Bowl until the 1990s. Heart breaking for Fouts and Chargers fans.

4. Losing Relocation for L.A.

Never forget the Chargers and Raiders almost built a stadium together in Carson before the NFL approved the Rams plans for SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The AFC West rivals linked for a plan to Los Angeles as last ditch efforts to get new stadiums in their home state amid failing negotiations with their home markets.

On the other hand, the Rams billion dollar owner Stan Kroenke spearheaded efforts for SoFi which included an option to house a second NFL team. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones lobbied in favor of the Rams project over the Raiders and Chargers.

The second NFL team that joined the Rams in Los Angeles ended up being the Chargers. It made some sense given their proximity to L.A. from San Diego. However, this is a heart break because of what came after as the Chargers left San Diego.

Despite numbers indicating a lack of Chargers fans in Los Angeles, the Chargers left San Diego two years before the new stadium. Fans were pissed and even threatened to align with the Chargers worst rivals. Chargers home games became sold out with opposing teams fans.

Things would’ve looked a lot different if the Chargers-Raiders deal was approved. Their partnership would have been more balanced since the deal aligned two family ownerships with the Spanos and Davis family in Los Angeles instead of the billionaire Kroenke. Kroenke’s already been way over budget but that other deal wasn’t quite as costly. Not to mention, the current SoFi Stadium looks like the old Rams logo from above.

It appears the Bolts are also third in selling personal seat licenses versus the Rams and Raiders in Vegas. This L also hurts more because the Raiders ended up finessing their own stadium with public funds in Vegas, sans another team. It doesn’t get much more heartbreaking for the Chargers than reluctantly rooming with the Rams at SoFi and playing the long-time rival Raiders, who they almost partnered with, in a state of the art arena once-per-year.

3. Injuries versus the Pats

The 21-12 loss versus the Patriots in the 2007 AFC Championship is iconic because Philip Rivers started six days after tearing his ACL and meniscus. Rivers was only 26 at the time and in his second year as a starter.

That game was supposed to be a sign of things to come. A mini-rivalry was heating up as the Chargers lost to the Patriots in the postseason the year. The Chargers had an interception in the fourth quarter stripped which set up a tying score for the Patriots. New England ended up eliminating the Chargers with a field goal as time expired.

However, the Championship loss in 2007 was more devastating because the Bolts lost with Rivers a year wiser and a new offensive head coach. After the 21-24 loss to the Pats in the 2006 divisional round, the Bolts made a change at head coach by firing Marty Schottenheimer. Norv Turner was brought in partly because the offense played too conservative with the lead in the 2006 loss.

Stakes were higher in the Championship game in 2007 and the Chargers couldn’t manage more than a field goal with Rivers battling his knee, Ladianian Tomlinson limited to a few snaps and Antonio Gates also hobbled. Still, Rivers wouldn’t play the Pats again in the Playoffs until 2018 and the Chargers haven’t reached AFC Championship again since.

Who knows if healthy Tomlinson and Gates change that second postseason outcome? We do know the Pats were rolling that year at 18-0 before they were upset in the Super Bowl. Randy Moss and Tom Brady were breaking records for New England’s offense.

Thus, the Chargers offense was still facing an uphill battle which is why it breaks more hearts than the first playoff loss to New England. The Chargers were great both years but the Patriots were a juggernaut that second time around.

First and Only Super Bowl Loss

It was a California showdown in the Super Bowl between the Chargers and 49ers in 1994. Leading into the Super Bowl, the Chargers overcame first half deficits in both of the playoff wins. Meanwhile, the 49ers team featured Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Steve Young and more. They were favored by more than two touchdowns over Bolts.

This is an obvious heartbreaking moment for the Chargers since it was the closest they got to winning a Lombardi but the 49ers put the Championship out of reach early. San Francisco took control leading 14-0 in the first quarter. The Chargers scored a touchdown in the second but it was 28-10 at halftime.

Super Bowl XXIX ended with the Chargers holding a 49-26 loss.  San Francisco cemented themselves among the NFL’s elite with their fifth Super Bowl. The 49ers made the big game twice since while the Bolts have not returned to the Super Bowl. Again, even more heartbreaking.