San Diego Chargers' playoff loss a microcosm of season: Team heads into offseason

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Chargers can feel good about overachieving and making it to the divisional playoffs when hardly anyone thought they'd make the postseason under rookie coach Mike McCoy.

They also go into the offseason kicking themselves a bit over lost opportunities.

Sunday's 24-17 loss at Denver was a microcosm of their season -- a slow start following by a frantic finish. This time, though, it wasn't enough and Peyton Manning and the Broncos held on to avenge their only home loss of the regular season.

IMAGES: The San Diego Chargers' 2013 season http://bit.ly/1drfuWH

San Diego won its final four regular season games -- and five of six -- to sneak into the playoffs before winning a wild-card game at Cincinnati.

Says Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle:  "We were a force to be reckoned with at the end of the year."

While some fans placed blame on now-former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for Sunday's loss, McCoy told reporters that Whisenhunt "did a phenomenal job. We had a great plan. We just didn't play as well as a football team."

"I think you embrace the fact that -- not only myself, but just this team -- had a privilege to be with a guy like Ken Whisenhunt," said tight end Antonio Gates.

Quarterback Philip Rivers credited Whisenhunt with helping him return to Pro Bowl status.

"I knew very early on he'd be a head coach again. He just, he's great in front of a room," said Rivers.

McCoy said, "Well, I don't want to lose him, but I understand the profession … I understood that I could lose him in a year or the organization could lose him in a year."

"I wish nothing but the best for him," said running back Ryan Mathews.

Players clear out lockers, prepare for offseason

Many Charger players began the task of cleaning out their lockers and looking forward to the offseason. Some laughed a little as they tried to put Sunday's loss behind them, while others signed autographs for each other.

Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen said this offseason he plans to "work out, try to get better."

"And today you wake up and my kids are driving me insane, making them breakfast," said Weddle.

"We'll evaluate our team and talk about them," McCoy said.

Linebacker Jarret Johnson added, "Meet with your coaches, Say goodbye to players. Everybody's got different schedules."

It will be the last time many of them will see each other for weeks, even months.

10News reporter Joe Little asked Mathews, "What are you doing this offseason?"

"Just going to train, man, train to get better. You know, there's a lot of stuff I still got to work on," he replied.

While Mathews plans to hit the gym, others like Gates and Johnson will visit family.

Weddle added, "You need to get away mentally, physically."

He said he has a job he's looking forward to: "Be daddy. They miss me for six, seven months. I'm not there much. They want to wrestle and tackle and play, so I'll do that."

When asked if he lets up on them, Weddle responded, "Oh no, my son, he's pretty tough so I give it to him as much as possible."

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