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The Tennessee Titans and the Curse of the Chargers

Stoney Keeley
For more than 20 years, the San Diego Chargers have flat out beat up the Tennessee Titans. While this year looks to be different, fans should still be leery of thinking this is an easy game. The Curse of the Chargers could very well be alive. | Photo Credit:

San Diego has not been kind to the Tennessee Titans. Actually, playing the Chargers hasn’t been an enjoyable experience since 1992 regardless of location. If you ask Titans fans which team they hate the most, you’ll probably hear answers such as the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, or Jacksonville Jaguars. Specifically, the Texans seem to top the list of vitriolic hate amongst the AFC South teams. Outside of the division, you’ll hear stories of the old AFC Central days and the underrated rivalry between the Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. Members of the Titans community have lost years of their lives watching Titans-Ravens game.

That being said, it’s time to open up the history book on an opponent that should be detested above all others: the Chargers. All of the traditional and non-traditional rivalries pale in comparison to this ridiculous one.

Why? Because the Chargers aren’t exactly a historic NFL powerhouse. If a team is losing like this to the Steelers, Ravens, Giants, or Patriots, it’s different. Those teams have Super Bowls. At least fans can hang their hats on losing to championship teams. While the Chargers have been loaded with talent like LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers, and Antonio Gates, the team not only failed to win a Super Bowl, but failed to even appear in a Super Bowl.

The Chargers had some strong regular season records over the course of this stretch, but were an underperforming 3-4 in playoff games. They made it to the 2007 AFC Championship before losing to the New England Patriots, and that’s as far as this franchise made it. So, it’s not as if the Titans were being repeatedly bludgeoned by one of the greatest teams of the era. To translate it to modern times, it would be like a team being unusually jinxed by the Cincinnati Bengals. Still, it’s a curse nonetheless.

As far as sports curses go, there’s the Curse of the Bambino, the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Madden Curse, the Talladega Jinx, and Tennessee’s Chargers curse.

Some suggest that San Diego, as a sports city, is cursed in and of itself. The town has never boasted a professional sports championship. So, for context, the Titans are cursed by a cursed team in a cursed city. It’s kind of amazing. Let’s take a trip down memory lane:

2004 – 38-17 Chargers win in San Diego

Back when people still had questions about Drew Brees’ viability as a franchise quarterback, he (along with Tomlinson) still stuffed the Titans in a box, completing 80% of his passes in the process.

2006 – 40-7 Chargers win in San Diego

When Shawne Merriman was on point, he fiercely reminded the NFL that he was “Lights Out” on a regular basis. Likewise, when you have guys like Tomlinson who can score touchdowns at will, you have the capability to dominantly suffocate teams.

2007 – 23-17 Chargers win in OT in Nashville 

This was probably the best game between these two teams of the entire series documented here. It took a 16-yard touchdown run from Tomlinson in overtime for the Chargers to sneak out of Nashville with a win.

2007 – 17-6 Chargers win in San Diego (playoffs)

Have a 13-year playoff drought? You got it – nothing cures that ailment quite like a date opposite the Titans. I feel like I’m repeating myself. This game was nowhere near as close as the score would suggest as the Titans could do nothing on offense at all.

2009 – 42-17 Chargers win in Nashville

That Christmas night game back in 2009 – ah, the memories. Young turned the ball over three times, the team committed nine penalties, and Rivers absolutely torched a defense missing stalwarts Keith Bulluck and David Thornton. It was an all-around atrocious night for the Titans.

2010 – 33-25 Chargers win in San Diego

The Chargers had lost three straight games heading into this one, but as we’ve seen in this rivalry, nothing cures the losing ailment like a date opposite the Titans. Also, Vince Young and Kenny Britt were both lost to injury in this game.

2012 – 38-10 Chargers win in San Diego

Offensive juggernauts (that’s sarcasm there, by the way) Dante Rosario and Jackie Battle torched the Titans for five touchdowns. Locker was the leading rusher for the Titans, accumulating 21 yards on the ground.


2013 – 20-17 Titans win in Nashville

The year the curse was “broken” was also the first time the Titans defeated the Chargers since 1992. It took the heroic Jake Locker (presumably playing through some sort of injury) hitting Justin Hunter for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the game to win it. After the beatings the Titans endured at the hands of the Chargers over the course of two decades, I’m not buying this game as officially breaking the Chargers curse.

So, there you have it, Titans fans - a not-so-glorious trip down memory lane to remind you that you should actually hate the Chargers with every fiber of your being. Over this span, you’re looking at cumulative score of Chargers 248, Titans 119. Yes, the Chargers are +129 in just eight games against the Titans. In their seven wins, the Chargers have an average margin of victory of 18.9 points.

That’s ludicrous – and Sunday’s game isn’t going to be an easy task to complete. Melvin Gordon shredded the Titans defense in the preseason. The underrated Titans offensive line is going to be tested with the surging Joey Bosa lining up for the Chargers defense.

Regardless of what happened in 2013, the Titans need a big win here to prove they’re contenders in the AFC and to officially shatter the Curse of the Chargers.

Stoney Keeley is a Tennessee Titans Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT's Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.

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