It’s usually about right now, just after Thanksgiving that the San Diego Chargers start to get serious. They’ve won a lot of games in the five or six years in December.
The 2009 Chargers have taken a different route. They decided to get hot in November and they showed it again on Sunday when they hammered the Chiefs 43-14 at Qualcomm Stadium.
“This was our most complete performance,” said Chargers head coach Norv Turner.
It was pretty impressive. On offense, they gained 426 yards and scored four touchdowns. The defense allowed less than 300 offensive yards to the Chiefs, and scored a touchdown themselves while getting four turnovers. The special teams allowed nothing.
“You want to be playing your best ball at this time of the year,” said QB Philip Rivers, who had a big afternoon, completing 21 of 28 for 317 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “Hopefully we can continue this in December like we have. We didn’t feel like we would be in this position in this division. We are going to worry about ourselves and not worry about anybody else. We’ve got to keep growing strong. We can get a lot better.
“No reason Denver can’t get as hot as they were earlier in the year. We have to stay on our streak.”
That winning streak is now six games and the Chargers are 8-3, a game ahead of the Broncos. Not bad for a team that was 2-3 back in October when they arrived at Arrowhead and started their run with a 30-point victory.
Since 2004, the Chargers are 19-4 in December games, and they’ve won 14 straight. The last time they lost a game in December was on December 31, 2005 when they lost in Denver.
Ahead of them on the ’09 schedule are four December games: at Cleveland, at Dallas, Cincinnati and at Tennessee. There are some tough games in that stretch, but if they keep playing the kind of football they showed against the Chiefs, they should win their fifth AFC West title in the last six seasons.
“I thought we had a lot of guys go out and play at a real high level,” Turner said. “I like the intensity we had. I believe we’re getting better.”
SOUR RETURN FOR CHAMBERS TO QUALCOMM
One of the few highlight of the Chiefs loss in San Diego was the continued productive play of WR Chris Chambers.
Returning to San Diego where he began his ’09 season, Chambers was the Chiefs leading receiver, grabbing seven passes for 70 yards. His second-quarter touchdown was a great play on his part, as he caught a third down pass, got enough for a first down and then went backwards into the end zone.
“That’s my goal every game, to score,” Chambers said. “And I’ve been having opportunities, more opportunities to make plays since I’ve been here. Definitely, it was a great start for me. I love getting my hands on the ball early in the game and built some momentum for myself.”
After three seasons with the Chargers, there wasn’t as much emotion for Chambers in returning for this game.
“It wasn’t all that strange,” Chambers said. “I mean, it’s just another game for the most part. A little bit of emotion. I really did enjoy playing with my teammates in San Diego and definitely have a lot of respect for them; they have a lot of respect for me. It was just fun going against the guys.
“There was no jawing or anything. We were just having fun.”
Chambers wishes his old buddies well over the next five weeks and beyond.
“Hats off to them,” Chambers said. “They looked like a poised team, like they are really going full-steam ahead right now. Hopefully they can win a championship this year.”
ALMOST EVERY RUN’S A RECORD FOR L.T.
As big rushing days go, it will not go down as one of the best in the storied career of LaDainian Tomlinson.
But Sunday’s victory against the Chiefs was still a special day for Tomlinson.
His 39 yards on 13 carries included a pair of touchdown runs. The yardage total moved him into tenth position in career rushing yardage in NFL history. He now has 12,257 rushing yards, moving past Marcus Allen (12,243) and Edgerrin James (12,246).
Just ahead of him now in ninth place are Marshall Faulk (12,279) and Jim Brown (12,312).
In 17 games against the Chiefs over his nine-year career, Tomlinson has carried 324 times for 1,488 yards and 13 TD runs. He’s also caught 77 passes for 477 yards with one TD catch.
SPECIAL TEAMS STUFF
The Chiefs kicking game was solid, but average against the Chargers.
Extraordinary returner Darren Sproles was able to return one punt, for no yards. He had a fair catch and the other two punts were downed. WR Terrance Copper made a great play on Colquitt’s fi rst punt when he was able to flip the ball backwards as he was falling backwards towards the end zone.
Sproles averaged 22 yards on four kick returns, below his season average of 24.9 yards. His longest was 32 yards.
K Ryan Succop’s three kickoffs went to the minus-three, three and four-yard line.
P Dustin Colquitt kicked four times for a 40.3-yard gross and net average. He had two punts inside the 20-yard line which set a Chiefs record for punts inside the 20 in one season. Colquitt has 31 and that’s two more than Louie Aguiar had in 1995.
Colquitt had a 64-yard free kick after the Chargers picked up a safety when QB Matt Cassel was tackled in the end zone.
In the return game, Bobby Wade had one punt return for two yards. RB Jamaal Charles had two kickoff returns for 61 yards, including a 45-yarder. Rookie Quinten Lawrence returned five kickoffs, averaging 18.8 yards. His best return was for 24 yards.
Referee Don Carey and his crew were pretty much a non-factor in this game. They walked off 13 penalties for 80 yards.
They nailed the Chiefs for five penalties walking off 25 yards. There were two penalties against the offense, as LT Branden Albert was hit for a false start and QB Matt Cassel was penalized for intentionally grounding the ball. His throw came in the end zone, so the play ended up in a safety for San Diego.
Defensively, DE Tyson Jackson was offsides, CB Brandon Carr was hit with a pass interference call and no name was given for a defensive holding call.
There was one coach’s challenge, as Turner threw the red flag on Tomlinson’s fumble near the goal line that the Chiefs recovered. The call on the field was affirmed.
The game-day inactive players for the Chiefs were OLB Mike Vrabel, LB Justin Rogers and ILB David Herron, RB Dantrell Savage, G Andy Alleman and healthy scratches in TEs Sean Ryan and Jake O’Connell. The inactive third quarterback was Matt Gutierrez.
For the Chargers their game-day inactive players were: CB Dante Hughes, RB Michael Bennett, S C.J.Spiller, C Nick Hardwick, OT Jon Runyan, WR Buster Davis and DE Luis Castillo. The inactive third quarterback was Charlie Whitehurst.
Former Chiefs DL Alfonso Boone started at DE for the injured Castillo.
As expected and as happened last week, Andy Studebaker started for Vrabel and Wade Smith opened at right guard for Alleman. Haley went into the game with six receivers and nine defensive backs on the active roster.
Dressed for the Chiefs was Lawrence, who was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday to fill the roster slot created when DB Maurice Leggett went to the injured-reserve list last week with a shoulder injury.
ASSORTED OTHER STUFF
The Chargers safety in the fourth quarter was the first against the chiefs since October 26, 2003, when Buffalo blocked a punt out of the end zone β¦ the Chargers lost S Eric Weddle (knee) and OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) from their starting defense in the first half. Neither player returned after they left the game β¦ ILB Demorrio Williams led the Chiefs with nine tackles, with ILB Corey Mays and DE Glenn Dorsey contributing seven each β¦ CB Brandon Flowers would have to be the Chiefs defensive player of the game, with five tackles, two passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.