Chris Chambers didn’t see it coming.
It was Monday morning after the Chargers beat the Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. In that game Chambers had just one catch, but it was a big one. On a third-down play in the fourth quarter, he made an over the shoulder grab stayed in bounds and picked up a big first down to keep alive a drive that killed the clock. San Diego won 24-16.
Chambers arrived in the Chargers locker room and was told that the head coach wanted to see him. He arrived in Norv Turner’s office and was told he was going to be released.
“My playing time was shrinking and that was a sign, but I wasn’t expecting what happened,” Chambers said on Tuesday after the Chiefs went through their first practice of the week. “From the second game on, I was rotating. My minutes were getting cut here and there and didn’t get a lot of encouragement.”
About 36 hours after getting the news, Chambers walked off a flight at KCI. His new football home was Arrowhead Stadium, as the Chiefs claimed him on waivers.
Just under four weeks after he walked into Turner’s office, Chambers has become a growing part of the Chiefs offense. He’s already caught 10 passes for 249 yards in three games. He’s got a pair of touchdown catches and his 61-yard play against the Steelers set up the game winning FG in overtime.
And, Sunday he’s going back to San Diego to face his old team as the Chiefs seek their third-straight victory.
“I’m definitely playing with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder because of the way things ended in San Diego,” said Chambers. “I’m just looking to prove to myself and my teammates that I can help them win games.”
Chambers has already shown he can help them win games, as he did last Sunday against the Steelers. His 47-yard catch set up the tying touchdown, and then the 61-yard catch and run in overtime made the winning FG possible.
“Chris Chambers has done a great job creating another element of big play possibilities for us that we really didn’t have early on in the season,” said QB Matt Cassel.
Chambers said he won’t lose his focus or amp up his intensity for this weekend’s game.
“It’s my job, so I will be professional about it,” said Chambers. “It will be fun just playing in that stadium, beautiful weather and see the fans and my teammates that I enjoyed playing with. I’m just looking to have fun for the most part.”
After Tuesday’s practice, Chambers is especially looking forward to that nice southern California weather. He can go back and tell his former teammates about the crazy coach of the Chiefs who takes his team outside for practice in 40 degree temperatures, with rain falling and wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour.
“When we came here the weather was never on our side so those guys know all about how cold and windy it can get around here,” Chambers said. “It’s a little bit of change for me coming from Miami and then San Diego. I’m sure this is going to make us better when we have the chance to play at home.”
Chambers has said that he feels like the Chargers organization pulled the chain on him as a sacrificial lamb, just like former teammate safety Clinton Hart. San Diego released Hart, who was a starter, on October 14th. They cut Chambers two weeks later.
“You can’t be comfortable in the NFL, especially as you get older,” said Chambers. “It starts upstairs, and what they want to do with the franchise. The same thing happened to him (Hart). They start rotating you and then you are gone. It’s a little bit of a shock when it happens at that point of the season. You don’t see that often in the NFL.
“I think everybody’s happy with how it turned out. I’ve got a chance to play and that pretty much all I wanted and they’ve got a chance to play their young guys, and that’s what they wanted.”
The receivers getting the playing time that belonged to Chambers are Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee. Floyd has 20 catches for 363 yards and a TD, while Naanee has 20 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
Chambers left behind a bunch of respectful teammates in San Diego who were sorry to see him go.
“He was always great in the locker room and focused on staying the course,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “You could tell he was disappointed and trying to battle through it, but there was never any tension there.”
When Chambers joined the Chargers in the 2007 trade thanks to a trade with Miami, he had an immediate impact on the San Diego offense, catching 35 passes for 555 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games.
“He made an impact right away,” Rivers said. “He came in and showed why we got him. He made big plays and kept coverages from zeroing in on (Antonio) Gates, and was a major player during that push toward the AFC championship game.”
Now, Chris Chambers is just trying to help the Chiefs win their fourth game of the season.
“I knew it was coming up and I was glad I got three games under my belt and get a little momentum, some rhythm and build some confidence,” he said.
SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE
- BENGALS β re-signed DT Orien Harris; released G Scott Kooistra.
- BILLS β signed G Kendall Simmons.
- BROWNS β released LB Josh Stamer.
- BUCCANEERS β fired defensive coordinator Jim Bates; placed QB Byron Leftwich on the injured-reserve list; released CB Mike Mickens; signed QB Rudy Carpenter and WR Terrence Nunn.
- CHARGERS – signed OT Jon Runyan.
- DOLPHINS β released DE Matt Roth; signed DE Ikaika Alama-Francis and DB Evan Oglesby.
- EAGLES β released CB Jack Ikegwuonu; signed CB Geoffrey Pope.
- JAGUARS β released LB Adam Seward.
- LIONS β QB Matt Stafford named the NFC offensive player of the week.
- RAVENS β placed CB Fabian Washington and RB Matt Lawrence on the injured-reserve list; signed FB Charles Ali and CB Cary Williams.
- STEELERS β coach Mike Tomlin says he expects QB Ben Roethlisberger to play this Sunday night against the Ravens despite suffering a concussion against the Chiefs; signed LB Rocky Boiman and CB Corey Ivy; released LB Donovan Woods and CB Keiwan Ratliff.
FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY
On November 25, 1962, the Dallas Texans beat the Oakland Raiders 35-7 at Municipal Stadium, with 13,557 in the stands. QB Len Dawson and RB Abner Haynes led the Texans to the victory. Dawson threw a pair of TD passes to TE Fred Arbanas and scored one himself on a one-yard run. Haynes had a pair of TD runs in the fourth quarter, of 19 and 33 yards. Haynes finished with 112 rushing yards, while RB Curtis McClinton (left) added 109 yards on the ground. Arbanas caught three passes for 57 yards. The Texans finished with 281 yards rushing, or more than Oakland had in total offense.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1971, the Chiefs lost to the Detroit Lions 32-21 at Tiger Stadium. On a cold Michigan afternoon, the Chiefs never led as the Lions 19 unanswered points in grabbing the victory. RB Ed Podolak scored three times for the Chiefs TDs. Detroit RB Steve Owens scored on the ground and QB Greg Landry threw TD passes to TE Charlie Sanders and WR Earl McCullough. The Chiefs defense had a pair of interceptions, as S Johnny Robinson and DE Wilbur Young grabbed passes.
On November 25, 1973, the Chiefs lost to the Denver Broncos 14-10 at Mile High Stadium. Despite a strong defensive effort, the Chiefs had trouble making anything go on offense in losing to Denver. The Chiefs only score came on a late fourth quarter pass from QB Mike Livingston to WR Otis Taylor of seven yards. Defensively, the Chiefs had problems handling Denver WR Haven Moses (right), who caught five passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. S Mike Sensibaugh had an interception for the Kansas City defense, but they h ad just one sack. Denver meanwhile sacked Livingston five times, including two each from DT Pete Duranko and DE Paul Smith.
On November 25, 1979, the Chiefs lost to the Chargers 28-7 at San Diego Stadium. It was the 10th victory of the season for the Chargers, as QB Dan Fouts had one of his best passing performances, throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns. Fouts hit WR Charlie Joiner for a 29-yard score, WR John Jefferson for a 42 yards and TE Bob Klein for an eight-yard score. RB Artie Owens also had a seven-yard TD run for the Chargers. The Chiefs only score came in the first quarter when QB Steve Fuller hooked up with RB Mike Williams for an eight-yard TD pass.
On November 25, 1984, the Chiefs lost to the New York Giants 28-27 at Giants Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands. The Chiefs held a 27-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Giants got two late TD passes from QB Phil Simms that capped the New York come-from-behind victory. QB Bill Kenney threw three touchdown passes, connecting with WR Stephone Paige for a 26-yard score, WR Carlos Carson from 34 yards and TE Willie Scott on an eight-yard TD play. Carson finished the game with five catches for 153 yards. The Chiefs defense had three interceptions of Simms, as FS Deron Cherry and CBs Albert Lewis and Kevin Ross got the picks. LB Calvin Daniels and DE Art Still had sacks for the KC defense.
On November 25, 1990, the Chiefs beat the Raiders 27-24 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Chiefs defense struggled in this game, but they had great pass rush pressure on Los Angeles QBs Jay Schroeder and Vince Evans, taking them down five times as LBs Louis Cooper, Dino Hackett (left), Percy Snow and Chris Martin and DT Dan Saleaumua each had a sack. QB Steve DeBerg was especially efficient, hitting 12 of 21 passes for just 149 yards, but three TDs: 19 yards to WR Emile Harry and a pair of 11-yard scores to FB Bill Jones.