Part of the challenge facing the in their move from San Diego to Los Angeles is introducing their history, their stars, their fan favorites, their triumphs to a new fan base 110 miles north.
But instead of providing an annotated history of the franchise to thumb through, the Chargers have given their new fans the gift of a quick review.
You didn’t have to watch the nine losses by one possession a season ago. You didn’t have to know that close games, well, they usually don’t go that well.
In seven days, the team has delivered the CliffsNotes version of the past few seasons to the new market — be good enough to be close, be talented enough to win and, in the end, find a way to lose.
Sunday, in their first game at StubHub Center — their soccer stadium turned home for at least the next three seasons — it fittingly came down to kicks. And, in a way longtime fans of the franchise know, that’s probably not a good thing.
Rookie Younghoe Koo missed a pair of field goals, including a potential game-winner from 44 yards with five seconds left, to seal the Chargers’ seemingly predestined fate in a 19-17 loss to the .
In their last 24 games decided by one score or less, the Chargers have managed to win five.
Sometimes it’s interceptions. Sometimes it’s fumbles. Sometimes it’s defensive breakdowns. In their season opener, it was a blocked field goal.
And Sunday it was Koo, who pushed the ball just to the right of the goal post, denying the team a last-second win in front of a less-than-capacity crowd of 25,381 paid in attendance.
After making a 41-yard try, Koo also missed a 43-yarder just before halftime.
“First quarter, fourth quarter — every kick is a game-winner,” Koo said, his voice shaking.
In a two-point game, by his own measure, Koo cost the Chargers twice.
The kicker has been one of the feel-good stories in the NFL, beating out Josh Lambo for the job after going undrafted out of Georgia Southern. Koo began playing football after moving to the United States from South Korea, earning a level of fame because of his ethnicity, name and viral-video trick shots.
But two games in, it has been rough.
While he’s been perfect on five extra points, he’s missed three field goals in four tries, including one that was blocked that could’ve sent the Chargers into overtime in Week 1 against Denver.
“Younghoe is going to learn how to be a professional, how when you have a bad day, you’ve got to put it on the back burner and move forward. He’s going to have to learn that quick,” Chargers offensive tackle said. “The NFL is unforgiving. He’ll have to learn that really fast.”
Whether he’ll get another shot or not is as uncertain as the Chargers’ special teams these days. Coach Anthony Lynn didn’t offer a supreme vote of confidence when he said the Chargers are “always looking to improve and upgrade.”
The special-teams struggles — the Chargers also had a punt blocked — were magnified exponentially by how well Miami performed in that facet of the game. Kicker Cody Parkey, whom the Dolphins claimed on waivers from Cleveland earlier this month, connected on four field goals and put Miami ahead for good when he drilled a 54-yard kick with just more than a minute left.
The Chargers defense deserved some of the credit for Parkey’s busy day, shutting Miami out of the end zone on three trips inside the Chargers’ 20-yard line. Miami’s only touchdown came when quarterback Jay Cutler found receiver Kenny Stills on a 29-yard pass.
That led the Chargers down the field into Koo’s range after Parkey’s deciding field goal was maybe as predictable as the ending.
All game Rivers picked the Miami defense apart, completing 31 of 39 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown to — the 112th of his career, more than any other tight end to play in the NFL.
The Chargers managed just one additional touchdown, a one-yard run from Melvin Gordon, despite 367 yards of offense.
“We just have to find a way to make it happen. We have to make some more plays. We shouldn’t have it come down to a field goal,” Gordon said. “We should’ve been up. We had some possessions where we got down there and didn’t score as an offense. We could’ve put ourselves in a better position. Everyone has to be accountable.”
As Gordon continued his answer, he knew it sounded familiar.
“I know it’s repetitive,” he said.
And, he’s right. Lightning keeps striking whether the Chargers are in San Diego or Denver or Carson.
“It’s kind of hard to believe,” defensive end Joey Bosa said. “Coming from last year, I didn’t think it’d be happening like this still. But it’s not like it’s happening for no reason. There are reasons it’s happening. We have to fix them.”