Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
AFC Divisional game
At San Diego
Patriots 24, Chargers 21
So how does losing to a Tom Brady-led team in the playoffs qualify as a "disaster?"
If you're 14-2 or better and can't get past the divisional round of the playoffs, you make the list of top 10 postseason disasters in NFL history.
Plus, this could be a lifetime postseason disaster achievement award for Marty Schottenheimer (pictured) as well as the Chargers.
Schottenheimer has been recorded in pregame huddles on NFL Films telling his players, "There's a gleam."
Legend has it he was talking about the gleam of the Lombardi Trophy. That gleam, however, has been fool's gold for any Schottenheimer-led team.
Schottenheimer took 13 teams to the playoffs, but none of them to the Super Bowl. In 1986, his 12-4 Cleveland Browns were victimized by "The Drive" engineered by John Elway.
Schottenheimer coached the Kansas City Chiefs to 13-3 records and the top seed in the AFC playoffs in 1995 and 1997. But the Chiefs were one-and-done in the playoffs both times.
In 2004, his 12-4 Chargers lost at home to the Jets in the wild card round.
Then in 2006 came a nice little mini-collapse as Schottenheimer's crowning achievement.
The Chargers finished the regular season with 10 straight wins, and had a 21-13 fourth-quarter lead against the Patriots. Marlon McCree intercepted Brady with about six and a half minutes left, then fumbled. Former Charger Reche Caldwell recovered at the San Diego 32. Five plays later, Caldwell caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Brady, and the two-point conversion tied it.
Stephen Gostkowski provided the winning points with a field goal, and Nate Kaeding's 54-yard attempt with eight seconds left was short.
Schottenheimer hasn't coached in the NFL since that game.
Maybe it's not Schottenheimer, though. In 2009, the Chargers went 13-3 and had a first-round bye in the playoffs, only to lose 17-14 to the Jets in the divisional game.
Thirty years earlier, the Air Coryell Chargers probably had their best shot at making the Super Bowl in 1979, when they went 12-4 and had the top seed in the playoffs. They were upset by the Houston Oilers 17-14 in the divisional playoffs.
That loss, though, wasn't nearly as gut-wrenching as the loss suffered by the 2006 Chargers. That's the postseason disaster by which all other Chargers' postseason disasters will be measured.