CARSON — There was no defender breaking through the line this time. No errant hold, no botched snap. Younghoe Koo missed the field goal on Sunday, and this one was entirely on him.
With nine seconds left on the game clock at StubHub Center, the Chargers’ undrafted rookie had a chance to win the game. He was 44 yards out, a manageable distance for the former Lou Groza Award finalist. He was ready for redemption.
It didn’t happen. The Chargers lost, 19-17.
“I just pushed it right,” Koo said. “The next kick’s got to go down the middle.”
He’s not necessarily guaranteed a next one.
Few professional athletes have careers as tenuous as those of NFL kickers, most of whom can be pushed out after a string of bad games. Take, for example, Roberto Aguayo, who has been cut by two teams since the Buccaneers made him a second-round pick in 2016. Or Josh Lambo, who was beat out by Koo this summer after making 81.3 percent of his field-goal attempts in two seasons.
Now, after two appearances, Koo has made just one of his four tries.
His first miss could be excused; last Monday in Denver, defensive end Shelby Harris broke through the line, tipping away a field goal that looked like it would force overtime. After the game, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and quarterback Philip Rivers both sounded impressed with Koo — whose successful attempt against the Broncos was erased by a timeout.
The scene in the locker room was similar on Sunday. Teammates tried to shepherd Koo away from media, and a few told him to keep his head up.
It’s unclear how much breathing room he has with those higher up in the organizational food chain. Koo not only missed a potential winner, but a 43-yarder late in the second half.
“He didn’t kick well today, so we’ll see,” Lynn said. “We’ll see how he responds.”
Asked if the Chargers would consider bringing in competition for Koo, Lynn left the door open: “Well, we’re always looking to improve in that area. Always.”
Meanwhile, Koo is just waiting for his next shot.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” he said. “I can’t say it’s not, but I just have to move on to the next one and make the next opportunity count. … Do I wish I made the two field goals today? Yeah, sure. Definitely, but I can’t do anything about (it) now.”
Right tackle Joe Barksdale left the game with a foot injury, and was replaced in the starting lineup by Chris Hairston. Barksdale also sat out most of training camp with a…