An 0-3 start had a lot of people writing off the season for the defending AFC West champion Chiefs. Four weeks later, the season is more than alive and well.
Monday night in overtime, the Chiefs gained share of the lead in the division, following a tough 23-20 win over the rival Chargers.
Ryan Succop booted a 30-yard field goal in overtime for the game-winner, it came after the Chargers gift-wrapped the possession thanks to a turnover.
San Diego, trailing the entire game, was in position to go ahead in the final minute of regulation before Philip Rivers fumbled a snap exchange — the quarterback’s third turnover.
The Chargers went three-and-out on the first possession of OT, and Matt Cassel completed a pair of third-down passes to keep Kansas City moving on its touch. Eventually, Succop split the uprights on the game-winner with 5:16 remaining to send the Chiefs (4-3) to their fourth straight win and San Diego (4-3) to its second straight loss.
The division rivals are tied atop the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders.
“It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t believe that matters,” Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said. “They believed they were going to win that game and they made it go their way.”
Cassel completed 19-of-32 attempts for 261 yards while tossing two interceptions and losing a fumble. But the signal-caller came up big when it counted, most notably hitting Steve Breaston for a 17-yard gain on 3rd-and-14 in the extra session.
Jackie Battle carried the ball 19 times for 70 yards, including a one-yard plunge three minutes into the fourth quarter to extend the hosts’ lead to 20-12.
Rivers, who ended with 369 yards and two interceptions, relied on Curtis Brinkley on the ensuing 10-play, 80-yard drive with starter Ryan Mathews sidelined with a groin injury.
Brinkley caught a 20-yard pass to get down to the Kansas City two-yard line and punched it in from there with 7:11 showing. The seldom-used back then caught Rivers’ two-point conversion pass to tie it.
Kansas City failed to gain a first down, and the Chargers drove to the Chiefs’ 15-yard line, well within Nick Novak’s field goal range, with a minute to play. Rivers, though, fumbled the snap, and linebacker Andy Studebaker came up with the pigskin out of the scrum.
“It looked like Philip got a little anxious and came out [of the snap exchange] early,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said. “We were in position to kick the game-winning field goal and it didn’t happen.”
The Chiefs entered enemy territory with time winding down, but Cassel threw an interception to ensure overtime.
Succop opened the scoring with a 36-yard kick six minutes into the opening quarter. Following Rivers’ second interception of the frame, Cassel connected with Jonathan Baldwin on a 39-yard bomb for the rookie’s first touchdown.
Novak booted a 44-yard field goal midway through the third to get San Diego on the board, but missed a 52-yarder wide right with 71 seconds left in the half.
Breaston’s 21-yard grab a little later set up Succop’s 47-yard boot for a 13-3 cushion heading to the break.
The third quarter featured three San Diego field goals (44, 42 and 26 yards by Novak) and one Kansas City first down.