From Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
It’s one of the most helpless feelings a football player can have, especially one who plays on defense.
The San Diego Chargers were bound and determined to run the football in Sunday’s AFC West showdown against the Chiefs. They wanted to establish the line of scrimmage as Chargers territory and they want to bang, bang, bang at the K.C. defense.
Balance was important for the Chargers and they were about even as an offense can be. Philip Rivers threw for 226 yards. But it was a three-headed running attack of Ryan Mathews, Michael Tolbert and Daren Sproles that controlled the game. They ran for 207 yards, at 4.8 yards per carry, as those three had 28 of the 43 San Diego carries.
“We really wanted to come out and impose our will on them,” said Tolbert, who had 66 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown. “It was a must win game. We had to play hard every play and dominate.”
They did. The Chargers offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage in every quarter. San Diego ran for 48, 76, 31 and 52 yards across the four quarters.
Those 207 yards are the most the Chiefs have allowed rushing in 13 games this season. In the last two games they’ve allowed 368 yards rushing to the Broncos and Chargers, or an average of 184 yards per game.
“They got started early and we couldn’t stop the bleeding,” said ILB Derrick Johnson, who led the team in total tackles with nine. “It was just like Denver. They got it rolling and there didn’t seem to be anything we could do to stop them.”
In their four possessions in the first half, the Chargers ran 124 yards on 21 carries, including runs of 19, 18 and 14 yards.
“They had our number today,” said DE Glenn Dorsey. “They came out with a good game plan and they executed it. We did not.”
San Diego was able to run inside and outside and they were able to get most of their yardage after contact, as the Chiefs turned in one of their worst tackling games of the season.
“We missed way too many tackles,” said head coach Todd Haley. “It was something that we talked about with these backs, that they were tackle breaking machines. We had to have a great tackling game and we didn’t do that.”
Tolbert led the Chargers runners with his 66 yards on 16 carries. Mathews had 65 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown run himself. Sproles only had six carries but he ran for 53 yards. They even got a 14-yard gain on an end-around run by WR Vincent Jackson.
“They did, they ran it down our throats,” said SS Eric Berry. “We should have come out smoking in the first half and we didn’t get it done. We were prepared for it. We woke up in the second half, but by then it was too late.”