LANDOVER, MD. — No matter how many times and in what ways San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was asked, he was not about to publicly acknowledge any problems with the plays his team tried in Sunday’s key sequence.
Three times in the final 30 seconds of regulation, the Chargers ran plays inside the 1-yard line with a chance to take the lead against Washington.
Here’s what happened: run stuffed for no gain, incomplete pass, incomplete pass.
San Diego settled for a tying field goal there, then lost 30-24 when Washington scored on the opening drive of overtime.
“Hey, in this business, would’ve, should’ve, could’ve — if one of those three plays worked, there’s no questions asked,” McCoy said. “When they don’t work, the questions come out and they won’t stop.”
Added the first-year coach, whose team is 4-4: “I’m not questioning what we did. We’re not questioning that. This is a team game. It’s the San Diego Chargers’ organization. And I’m not questioning any of the calls. We did what we thought was best to win the football game and we’re moving on.”
Philip Rivers didn’t want to second-guess the plays that were tried then, either — and he said the first-down run by Danny Woodhead was an audible — but the quarterback was not so sure about the officiating that put his team in that spot.
On a second-down play from the Washington 6, Rivers tossed the ball to Woodhead, who darted toward the end zone and reached the ball forward as David Amerson tackled him near the sideline.
The neon pylon got knocked over — by the football or by Woodhead’s body — and initially, the play was ruled a touchdown.
But after a video review, the call was changed, giving the Chargers a first-and-goal a bit inside the 1. All scoring plays are subject to review.
“By no means blaming it on that, but I don’t know how you decide where to spot the football. If he didn’t score, and you’re 100 percent he didn’t score, where do we put the ball? The back end of the ball was on the 1-yard line, almost,” Rivers said, his hands shoved into his pockets.
“The ref on the field … says he sees it touch the pylon. I know you couldn’t tell that from the video. … I’m by no means saying that cost us. But I thought he got in,” said Rivers, who was 29 of 46 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Especially when it was called on the field, I thought it was going to be a hard one to overturn.”
And then, as Rivers continued, he came upon probably was San Diego’s biggest takeaway from the afternoon.
“Then again, if we have the ball on the half-yard line (for) three plays, it’s our job to score,” he concluded. “And we didn’t.”
Said tight end Antonio Gates: “It’s never the play-calling. It’s the execution. … Those are the plays you have to make to win in this league.”
Washington, too, knew that was a key stand.
“First-and-1 on the goal line? Most cases that’s a touchdown,” Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
Woodhead did not want to really weigh in on whether he thought the original call of a TD should have stood.
“It was close,” said Woodhead, whose bridge of his nose was bloodied. “We didn’t end up keeping it.”
There were plenty of things San Diego did well, including pinning Washington (3-5) at their own 1-yard line on the hosts’ first two possessions, blocking Kai Forbath’s first two field-goal tries, and defensive end Sean Lissemore’s pick-6 after Lawrence Guy batted a pass by Robert Griffin III.
There was also the spirited rally after trailing 24-14 on the road with the clock running under 4½ minutes remaining.
Still, the Chargers did plenty wrong, too.
They only went 3 for 9 on third-down conversions, while allowing Washington to go 12 for 17.
“Third downs,” Chargers safety Eric Weddle said, “we were atrocious.”
They also couldn’t stop Washington’s running game, which totaled 209 yards on 40 carries. That included three short rushing TDs by fullback Darrel Young, who entered the day with two carries all season and ended the game with a 4-yard burst in OT.
Notes: Chargers RB Ryan Matthews had only seven carries for 34 yards, and only one carry after halftime. Approached by reporters after the game, Matthews cut an interview short as he wiped away blood from his nose. McCoy said Matthews was fine. … Lissemore’s score was the first by San Diego’s defense this season. … The Chargers hadn’t blocked a field-goal try since Nov. 3, 2002.