The best defense in the NFL might be losing its edge, allowing Philip Rivers to have a special day, throwing for 392 yards and three touchdowns. Worse? The Kansas City Chiefs lost for a second time in a row, while the San Diego Chargers, with the 41-38 win, kept their playoff hopes alive.
After losing to the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs were primed to look better and sharper against a team that’s almost out of the playoff race, third in their division. It turned out the Chiefs might have problems that run deeper than just Peyton Manning, as they gave up 491 yards of offense to the Chargers, not forcing a single turnover and sacking Rivers only once during the game.
Before the game, the Chiefs allowed a total of 63 points in five home wins, an average of 12.6. They allowed 228 yards for receivers after the catch, the most they’ve given up all season. Suddenly, the talk of their wins against backup quarterbacks doesn’t sound too ridiculous, and their struggles against a bit higher piece of quality in Manning last week and Rivers now tells the story of a defense that might not as good as it was cracked up to be, with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali or without them.
For the Chargers, it was about coming up big late in the game. Rivers led a 78-yard drive after the Chiefs scored a touchdown giving them a 38-34 lead with only 1:22 left in the game. Rivers needed only 58 seconds to complete his masterpiece: A 12-yard pass to Antonio Gates on third down, 19-yard pass to Danny Woodhead and another 14 yard pass to Woodhead, getting him to the Chiefs’ 47. A pass interference call marched the Chargers 12 more yards, but then the Chiefs finally got their first sack of the game.
How did Rivers respond? Throwing to Seyi Ajirotutu, making it a touchdown. Ajirotutu later called it the biggest play of his career, which makes sense. For Rivers, it was simply about saving the season. They’re still four games behind the Broncos and Chiefs, but they’re right in the thick of it when it comes to the Wild Card race, losing right now because of a conference record inferiority.
It’s one of those you’ll never forget, that’s for sure. It’s kind of what our season’s been about. Can you drive and score at the end?
The Chargers have destiny written all over them if you believe the trend of teams playing against the Eagles on their home opener winning the Super Bowl. The streak is alive and well for the last four years, blessing the Saints, Packers, Giants and Ravens. All those teams were much better than the Chargers are this year (the Giants not by much), but there are still five games to go.
Keenan Allen caught nine passes for 120 yards, followed by Eddie Royal with four receptions for 87. Antonio Gates had only 3 for 21 yards, but he did become the fourth tight end in NFL history with 700 catches and 9,000 yards.
Alex Smith? Actually a good game for him with three touchdown passes and an interceptions, completing 26-of-38. But when the Chiefs have to go to him in order to win, they’ll lose more than they’ll end up winning, especially against the Chargers, who Smith still hasn’t beaten in his NFL career.