Chargers Help Chiefs Create History

From Arrowhead Stadium

From outhouse to penthouse – it’s a journey that athletes and teams make quite often these days. Just ask the Chiefs. Over the last two months they’ve gone from top, to bottom and back to top.

With their 23-20 overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers Monday night, the Chiefs pushed their record to 4-3 on the season and they own a share of first place in the AFC West with the Chargers and Oakland Raiders. As the defending division champions, the Chiefs started the season 0-3 and looked terrible doing it.

Now, they’ve won four in a row after Ryan Succop’s 30-yard field goal ended the game with 5 minutes, 16 seconds left in the extra period. They became the first team in NFL history to start the season 0-3 and four games later be on top of its division.

“No way,” said QB Matt Cassel when asked if he thought being in first place was possible after that 0-3 start. “You don’t even think about something like that. You just try to win one game, and then another. You can’t think that far down the road. But it wasn’t something we ever imagined happening.”

It was a game that took several dramatic turns in the final minutes of play, none bigger than a fumbled snap by Chargers QB Philip Rivers that was recovered by Chiefs LB Andy Studebaker with 48 seconds to play. At the time, San Diego was simply trying to kill clock so they could try a game winning field goal.

“It hasn’t happened in years,” Rivers said of the botched exchange between himself and center Nick Hardwick. “We hadn’t had an issue in years. This one is rough. That’s one play, that’s something that obviously never happens; it shouldn’t happen.”

That’s the type of game it was for both teams as the AFC West slugfest was not so much about great play, but what team would be standing at the end. There were eight turnovers in the game – four for each team. There were 21 penalties, including one that wiped out a San Diego touchdown. There were 7 running plays that went for negative yardage. There were six sacks – three for each team. There were numerous replay reviews on goal line plays that took away touchdowns, and preserved others.

“It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time I really don’t believe that matters right now to those guys in there,” head coach Todd Haley said, motioning towards the Chiefs locker room. “I’m really proud of our Chiefs and of our fans. They were phenomenal all night.”

The Chargers came into the game depleted as starters and key contributors LG Kris Dielman, OLB Shaun Phillips and RB Michael Tolbert were all inactive because of injuries. During the game CB Quentin Jammer and RB Ryan Mathews left with injuries. It was the second consecutive loss for San Diego.

“This was the type of game that I thought it would be,” said Chargers head coach Norv Turner. “They give you a lot of things to handle on both sides of the ball.”

The story in the first half was the Chiefs defense that forced three turnovers by the Chargers. Rivers came into the game having already thrown nine picks, and he threw two more, as FS Kendrick Lewis and ILB Derrick Johnson grabbed the errant passes. A fumble by RB Ryan Mathews was recovered by Lewis as well.

Kansas City got on the board first thanks to a 10-play, 49-yard first possession that ended with a 36-yard field goal by Succop. Later, Johnson’s INT turned into seven points for the Chiefs. Cassel needed just four plays to travel 77 yards, hitting FB Le’Ron McClain for a 14-yard gain on 3rd-and-1 and then getting another 15 yards on an unnecessary roughness flag against the Chargers.

That pushed the ball to the San Diego 39-yard line and Cassel then hit rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin in the end zone for the first career TD catch for the first-round choice. The PAT gave the Chiefs a 10-0 lead.

San Diego finally got points on the board early in the second quarter on a 44-yard FG by Nick Novak. It was the first points allowed by the Chiefs defense in eight quarters, going back to an October 9 victory over the Colts.

The Chiefs added another field goal right before the half, as Succop drilled a 47-yarder and they went to the locker room with a 13-3 lead.

The third quarter was all about the Chargers defense, as they kept the Chiefs bottled up and even forced a turnover, as S Eric Weddle picked off a Cassel pass intended for Baldwin. San Diego got three more points out of that takeaway. In fact, they had only 44, 42 and 26-yard field goals from Novak on the board in the quarter.

But early in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs offense finally made some headway against the San Diego defense, completing a 10-play, 74-yard drive with a one-yard TD leap by RB Jackie Battle. Succop’s PAT kick made it 20-12.

That’s when Rivers was finally able to get the Chargers offense into the end zone. He hit passes of 18 yards to WR Patrick Crayton and 27 yards to WR Vincent Jackson. Mathews caught a pass and went for 14 yards and a first down.

Then, Rivers hit RB Curtis Brinkley for a 20-yard gain to the Chiefs two-yard line, as he got behind OLB Justin Houston. Brinkley scored on the next play, although the ball came loose and Kansas City’s defense thought it had another takeaway. Rivers then hit Brinkley on a two-point conversion play that had to be confirmed by video review before it tied the score at 20-20.

With 4:59 left to play in regulation, the Chargers took over on the Chiefs 48-yard line. Brinkley was in full-time as Mathews left the game with an injury. Slowly, almost methodically Rivers moved the San Diego offense to the Chiefs 15-yard line.

There was 1:03 on the clock, the Chiefs had used their last timeout and the winning field goal was sitting there waiting to be kicked. But then Rivers botched the snap, Studebaker recovered and regular ended.

In overtime, San Diego got the ball first but went three plays and out. The Chiefs took over on their 19-yard line and Cassel drove them down to the Chargers 12-yard line. On third down, Succop hit the winner.

And, what seemed impossible at the end of September now is fact at the end of October – the Chiefs are back in the hunt.

“Our guys have handled some adversity this year and it’s had a positive effect,” Haley said. “They believed they were going to win that game, even though things didn’t look very good there at the end. They had a common belief that we were going to come out on top.”

5 Responses to “Chargers Help Chiefs Create History”

  • November 1, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    As the old saying goes, “That’s why they play the games!” I was cursing our bad luck with replays and inability to generate any pressure other than Hali and ruing our defense not being able to prevent first downs on third and long or to get off the field when we needed to. I also cursed the turtle gun offense at times that kept giving the ball back to San Diego. But through it all they just kept grinding, chopping wood, call it what you like. In the end it paid off. We now sit atop the division with an opportunity to continue playing meaningful games into the winter. These guys play their tail pads off and that never give up attitude serves them well. I’m sure the Haley Haters, Suck for Luck fans and those who don’t like Pioli and/or Hunt for whatever reason won’t be mollified with this victory but I hope the rest of you get the same enjoyment out of this ugly win that I am. Go Chiefs!

  • November 1, 2011  - OT Victory Gives Chiefs A First Place Share : says:

    [...] GAME STORY: Chargers help Chiefs make history. [...]

  • November 1, 2011  - Mark Broski says:

    For those who say that the in-stadium experience can no longer compare to the in-basement experience with a big HD TV, last night’s game proved them wrong. The Arrowhead crowd evoked both civic pride and impacted the outcome of the game. For an out-of-towner with no choice but the man cave, both KC and the Chiefs looked *great* last night.

  • November 1, 2011  - PAChiefsFan says:

    It wasn’t pretty but who says it has to be. The Chiefs found a way and played with heart for just shy of five quarters. I agree with Mark, Arrowhead was rocking. The fans were great. As loud as it was on tv tells you how loud it was in the stadium. It was a special win especially when the game was essentially over. I am glad the Chiefs on the field didn’t feel the same way. Who knows what the rest of the season will bring but there are some bright spots surfacing after the loss of three key starters made it look like any success this year was mere fantasy.

  • November 1, 2011  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    I echo the statements above; you fans at the game made Arrowhead ROCK! Way to go!

    Go CHIEFS!

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