COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers are looking forward to Sunday's home opener against the Miami Dolphins, but only after being thrown into the time machine when falling to the Denver Broncos.
Few would fault the Chargers of reflecting on 2016 after a familiar loss to open 2017. The Chargers lost eight of their games last year by seven or fewer points and they were on the wrong side of a squeaker again: 27-24 to the Broncos.
A feel-good ending for the Chargers -- they rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit -- wasn't meant to be. Kicker Younghoe Koo's field-goal attempt that would have sent the game into overtime was blocked. What made the deflection more disheartening was that Koo was successful with his kick just before it -- but not before the Broncos had called time out.
"I had no doubt he was going to make it," head coach Anthony Lynn said. "He has ice in his veins."
But the Chargers, who've won once in two seasons in the AFC West, were once again dunked by a familiar opponent.
"It was really frustrating because I feel like we were coming," Lynn said. "His second kick was just as solid but we gave up some pressure on the right side."
Which put the Chargers on the wrong side in their fight for L.A. While the Chargers bungled through the first three quarters before making a comeback, the L.A. Rams demolished the Indianapolis Colts the day before.
But the Chargers, winners of nine games in two-plus seasons, fell short again.
That was the short-term assessment. But the big picture, according to quarterback Philip Rivers, revealed something else.
"I think our toughness and fight stood out," he said. "This one hurts but we got a long way to go."
--Wide receiver Keenan Allen survived the first game, and yes, that's news. Allen wrecked his knee in last year's opener and didn't play again for the entire season. The Chargers are counting on Allen to return to his Pro Bowl form. Quarterback Philip Rivers took aim 10 times at Allen and he responded with five catches for 35 yards. He also had two drops, which were part of a game where the Chargers offense seemed a tad off in the early going.
"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, making one or two bad plays every drive," Allen said.
But the return of Allen, who was restricted to eight games in 2015, was a welcome sign for the Chargers.
--Head coach Anthony Lynn was pleased with how his rebuilt offensive line held up. Not only did it stifle linebacker Von Miller and crew, it did so without hearing the snap count in the din of Denver.
"That team is a good pass-rushing team we really kept it in check," he said. "We did it good enough to win. I am not disappointed in the offensive line."
--With a short week ahead, the Chargers won't be in pads much, if at all, leading to the game with the Dolphins. "This is going to be more of a mental week," Lynn said.