Brandon Staley beamed at the lectern.
The embattled Chargers coach raved about the resolve of Justin Herbert, who sealed a 24-17 victory over the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday by completing a 51-yard pass. He applauded the tenacity of Khalil Mack, who registered a team-record six sacks. He praised the collective effort of his defense, which spared the Chargers another on-brand meltdown.
His voice was joyous, his smile was infectious, but his words were as unconvincing as his team's performance.
Against a rookie quarterback who was drafted in the fourth round, Staley's team nearly blew a 17-point halftime lead.
Against a one-win team with a mediocre defense, the Chargers didn't score a single point in the third and fourth quarters.
The Chargers have won their last two games to improve to 2-2 but still haven't provided any reasons to believe they will be the team that breaks the franchise's long-standing curse.
They triumphed despite failing to convert on fourth down from their 34 with their lead down to seven points and 3 minutes 34 seconds remaining. A week earlier, they won in Minnesota despite failing to convert on fourth down from their 24 with a four-point lead and close to 2 minutes on the clock.
Heading into their off week, the Chargers still feel less than the sum of their parts.
If not for narrow escapes against a couple of weak teams, this team with Super Bowl ambitions would be 0-4.
"I would definitely err the other way," Staley said. "We could easily be 4-0. Some people could say 1-3. Right now, we're 2-2. That's what we are."
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