On most days if this 2013 Kansas City Chiefs team scored at least 20 points and didn’t turn the ball over it would be more than enough for the best defense in the league to secure a victory.
But today was not like most days, as it was the Kansas City offense that carried them throughout the game racking up over 300 yards and putting up 38 points on the board. It was simply not enough as the Chiefs take their second straight loss of the year, this one in Arrowhead, as they lose to division rival San Diego Chargers 41-38.
Alex Smith who had been bashed for not taking chances downfield racked up 294 yards and 3 touchdowns in a losing effort. Smith however was brought to the ground by the Chargers defense 3 times for a loss of 13 yards.
The Chiefs who have been praised for having one of the best pass rushing units in football had a hard time putting a finger on Phillip Rivers, let alone bring him down for a sack. If it weren’t for a last-minute sack by Eric Berry, that turned out not to have an impact on the finish, the Chiefs would have continued their 3 game streak without a sack.
A big part of today’s inability to not bring down Rivers, was the loss of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Hali and Houston, both went down with injuries in the first half, and did not return at all as the Chiefs and the Chargers continued their shootout.
In the first quarter, following a Nick Novak Chargers field goal, Alex Smith fired a strike into Donnie Avery’s hands for a 32 yard score to put the Chiefs up 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Jamaal Charles padded on the lead plunging his way 7 yards into pay dirt, pushing the Chiefs lead to 14-3 with 3:03 left in the half.
Rivers would not be denied as he connected with Danny Woodhead on a 11 yard flare right before the half to pull within 4 at 14-10.
Ryan Matthew hurdled his way into the end zone for a 1 yard score to take a Chargers lead 17-14 coming out of the half.
Jamaal Charles answered right back punching a 1 yard score in to regain the Chiefs lead for fourth lead change of the game.
Woodhead pounded one in from 3 yards out for another Chargers score and another lead change. Anthony Fasano kept the trend going with a 4 yard touchdown catch from Alex Smith to take a 28-24 lead at the end of the third.
The shootout continued in the final quarter with both teams trading field goal to start the fourth. Rivers who was determined to win the game connected with Ladarius Green for a 6o yard strike to take a 34-31 Charger lead with 7:50 to go.
Kansas City offense who had been criticized all year, with Alex Smith the as the bulls eye drove the length of the field to regain the lead for the 9th lead change of the game. Smith connected with Dwayne Bowe on a beautiful 1 handed 5 yard touchdown catch to put the Chiefs 38-34 with 1:22 to go.
That should have been the nail in the coffin if you will. The Chiefs should have been 10-1 and heading into their biggest game of the year against division rival Denver looking for some vengeance after last week’s defeat.
But Rivers would not have any of it. As the once proud defense who claimed to be the best in the league allowed Rivers and company to drive the length of the field within a minute. Rivers connected with Seyi Ajirotutu for a 27 yard strike following the lone Chiefs sack by Eric Berry, and the Chargers won in shootout fashion 41-38.
Chiefs fall to 9-2 on the year with their second straight loss while the Chargers improve to 5-6 with their Wildcard hope still alive.
A defense that created havoc for 9 straight weeks was unable to force a turnover against the Chargers.
The biggest question going forward is not only can the defense find their rhythm once more but whether or not Hali and Houston will be with them going forward. Both guys who suffered first half injuries, did not return in the second half and their status remains unknown.
One thing we do know is without Hali and Houston who have accumulated 20 sacks, this Chiefs defense looks very vulnerable. Not what you want to hear when Manning and company return to Arrowhead in one week.
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All Stats via espn.com