When the Chiefs personnel department evaluated Jamaal Charles before the 2008 NFL Draft there were a few facts that jumped out about the young man from Port Arthur, Texas.
He was fast. He had moves. He was tough. He fumbled too much.
On Sunday in San Diego against the Chargers, Charles was all of those things. He was fast, he showed his moves and he did some tough running. It was the type of performance that has him on the cusp of becoming a star in the league.
But, then there’s his problem with fumbling. He had a big one in the second quarter that stopped the Chiefs in San Diego territory and was turned into a Chargers touchdown. It was one of four giveaways that killed any chance the Chiefs had of winning the game, as the Bolts took decisive 43-14 victory.
“We turned the ball over four times and we can’t do that right now,” Charles said. “We were moving the ball. We got into a groove and we scored and we were heading for another one when I turned the ball over.”
The play came after the Chargers had scored their second touchdown to lead the game 14-7. San Diego’s first score was setup by a Matt Cassel interception, also on the San Diego side of the field.
The Chiefs started their possession at their 16-yard line and picked up two first downs and moved into Chargers territory. On a second-and-seven play, the Chiefs ran a draw and Charles burst through the right side, bounced off a tackler and then was stopped by CB Quentin Jammer and FS Steve Gregory.
But Charles kept moving his feet, trying to get an extra yard. That’s when the ball was knocked out of his hands, landed on the field and was recovered by LB Brandon Silar.
“I should have had two hands on the ball,” Charles said. “It was my fault. It led to another touchdown and it got bad real soon after that. Coach always tells me to cover the ball with two hands, but I thought I was still about to break and I only had one hand on it.”
Seven plays and 61 yards later, the Chargers scored again to make the score 21-7 and the game was all but over.
“The fumble really hurt us because we were trying to answer a score by them and we were moving down field pretty well,” said head coach Todd Haley. “If we can get points there, something positive there, we might have been able to hang in the game.
“Minus that, I think Jamaal is showing that he could potentially be a pretty good back.”
Charles was productive, running for 93 yards on 14 carries, including a 31-yard run. He caught three passes for 54 yards, including one for 49 yards. He returned two kickoffs for 61 yards, including a 45-yard return. Those were the three longest plays on the day for the Chiefs.
In total, Charles’ day was 19 touches for 208 yards.
“The situation we are in right now, every time I touch the ball I try to make something happen,” said Charles. “It’s real frustrating. We just have to come together as a team. We were fighting as a team at the start. After I fumbled the ball, everything just went downhill.
“I believe we can still win the rest of our games. I’m not giving up.”