The Chiefs played like it on Sunday, getting whitewashed by the division rival Chargers 31-0 in San Diego to fall to 8-5 on the season. The good news is that they stay a game up on San Diego with three games left in the regular season.
San Diego’s final three games are against San Francisco, Cincinnati and Denver, all sub-.500 teams, while the Chiefs face St. Louis, Tennessee and Oakland, three teams also with losing records. “We knew coming in what’s ahead of us, but I said it last Monday that we had to win this one first,” said Chargers QB Philip Rivers.
Rivers finished the contest 18-for-24 with 226 yards, one interception and a lost fumble, but with two touchdown passes. Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews each had a rushing touchdown as the Chargers won for the fifth time in the last six games. Malcolm Floyd caught both touchdown passes and finished the game with four catches for 51 yards.
“Any time you can run the ball for 200 yards and hold the other team is held to under 50 yards you’re usually going to win,” said San Diego head coach Norv Turner. “We played a really solid game out there and I’m proud of all the guys, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Brodie Croyle started in place of Matt Cassel and was awful. He was just 7-for-17 with 40 yards to fall to 0-10 as a starter as the Chiefs had a three-game winning streak snapped. Cassel continues to recover from an appendectomy on Wednesday, but likely won’t be back till the season finale on January 2nd.
“It got out of reach there pretty fast and we didn’t execute at all,” said Croyle. “We just did not play well out there and have to put this behind us.”
Kansas City’s offense was stymied all day as it managed just 67 yards and five first downs. The only time the Chiefs were in San Diego territory was when Tamba Hali recovered a Rivers fumble at the San Diego 37 in the third quarter.
“We have to see this game for what it is,” said Kansas City head coach Todd Haley. “We have to understand that San Diego clearly played better than us, it wasn’t even close. We didn’t do enough to win in too many areas today.”
The Chargers took the lead on their first touch of the game. The 10-play, 67- yard march was capped on a leaping grab at the right side of the end zone from Floyd for a 17-yard score with 5:33 left in the first. San Diego converted three third downs on the march.
Kansas City was held to three-and-outs on its next two series, and San Diego took a 14-0 lead on its first possession of the second quarter. Facing a 3rd- and-9 at his own 44, Rivers found Vincent Jackson for 19 yards. Four plays later, Tolbert went around the left end and into the end zone for an eight- yard score with 6:47 left in the first half.
The Chiefs got the ball near midfield, but were forced to punt, and San Diego took a 21-0 lead with 40 seconds left when Floyd made a diving catch in the left corner of the end zone from nine yards out.
San Diego started the second half with the ball and got into Kansas City territory, but Rivers was picked off by Eric Berry. However, the Chiefs were unable to move the ball and had to punt.
Rivers fumbled as he was sacked on a 3rd-and-4 and Kansas City recovered at the San Diego 37, but again the team was unable to take advantage of the turnover and had to punt.
After another exchange of punts, the Chargers went on a 10-play, 42-yard drive and sealed the win on a 48-yard field goal from Nate Kaeding for a 24-0 lead with 8:25 to play.
Mathews capped the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes to play.