SAN DIEGO The sorry state of the San Diego Chargers can be summed up in one word: "MAR-TY! MAR-TY! MAR-TY!"
The fans have had it just four games into Norv Turner's tenure as head coach, and Sunday's shocking 30-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs who rallied for 24 straight points and got huge plays from two rookies caused the Chargers to lose their Southern California cool.
After booing ineffective quarterback Philip Rivers for most of the second half, the fans amped up their anger.
When Rivers threw the last of four straight incompletions from the Kansas City 5-yard line with less than four minutes left, those who weren't streaming out of Qualcomm Stadium started chanting "MAR-TY! MAR-TY! MAR-TY!" in obvious reference to coach Marty Schottenheimer, who was fired in February due to his icy relationship with general manager A.J. Smith.
The Chargers have been unproductive and disorganized under Turner, looking nothing like the team that led the NFL last year with 492 points and 14 wins both franchise records before their playoff pratfall against New England. Turner's overall record in three NFL head-coaching stints is 59-85-1.
"They pay their money," said a frustrated LaDainian Tomlinson, the reigning league MVP who doubled his season output by rushing for 132 yards and one score, only to see his Chargers lose their third straight game to fall to 1-3, one more loss than they had under Schottenheimer last regular season.
"They have a right to voice their opinion, just like everybody else," he said. "They showed their frustration with us, the way we've been playing. I can't say that I blame them."
Things could be spinning out of control for the defending AFC West champions, who are now last in the division, behind even Oakland.
"This thing is getting away from us, and before you know it, you'll look back six or seven weeks from now and say, 'What happened?"' said Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal. "We have to stop it now. Bottom line, someone has got to step up and say, 'It has to stop now.' If you continue by saying, 'It's going to get better,' you're living a pipe dream."
Rivers had two interceptions and one fumble, which led to 17 points. He completed only 21 of 42 passes for 211 yards and no touchdowns. His passer rating was 44.8.
"We understand their frustration as well as ours. We're frustrated way more than anyone else outside," he said.
Chiefs linebacker Donnie Edwards, a San Diego-area native, heard the chants. He left San Diego as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason after reportedly drawing Smith's ire by repeatedly asking for a contract extension.
"I know when Marty was here things were a little bit different, you know?" said Edwards, a favorite of Schottenheimer's who declined further comment. Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs' first-round draft pick, caught a go-ahead, 51-yard touchdown pass from Damon Huard early in the fourth quarter, and cornerback Tyron Brackenridge, a rookie free agent, raced 50 yards for a score after Rivers was sacked and fumbled with just more than seven minutes left.
Tomlinson had only 16 yards in the second half.
"I think our defense settled down in the second half and did what they had to do and stop that runner and to keep that quarterback guessing," safety Bernard Pollard said. "So I think we did a great job."