It’s been an up and down season for the Chargers seven weeks in, and Monday night in Kansas City may have been the low point.
With a chance to win the game late against the Chiefs in regulation, QB Philip Rivers fumbled a snap exchange — the quarterback’s third turnover, and the Chiefs eventually scored a field goal in overtime for a 23-20 win.
Ryan Succop booted a 30-yard field goal for the game winner, and it dropped the Chargers to 4-3 on the season, their second straight loss.
Kansas City is now 4-3, winners of four in a row, and they are now tied for the division lead with the Chargers.
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.