By Dave Thomas
Twice this season now, the San Diego Chargers have used AFC West rival Kansas City to take out their frustrations on after difficult losses. Now if only the Bolts could play the Chiefs more than twice a season. After an ugly loss to Cleveland just this past Sunday, the Chargers struggled early, then put their foot on the gas pedal en route to a 31-13 win over Kansas City Thursday evening in San Diego.
In late September, the Chargers rebounded from an ugly 27-3 loss to Atlanta by routing the Chiefs on the road (37-20) the following Sunday. Much like in that win, the Chargers capitalized on Kansas City turnovers to put the game away this time around.
Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, who may have to nervously watch next April’s Draft to see who Kansas City takes with the potential top pick (could very well be a quarterback) turned the ball over twice, resulting in 14 San Diego points on the evening.
After being booed off the field to end the first half, a half that saw San Diego QB Philip Rivers toss an interception at the Kansas City 1-yard line with under a minute to go, the Chargers were not much more exciting in the third quarter, as they were held scoreless. In the fourth quarter, however, San Diego (4-4) took advantage of Kansas City mistakes to score a pair of touchdowns, plus score another on offense. Cassel’s mistakes, however, (fumbled in end zone, threw an interception for a score) essentially did in the 1-7 Chiefs.
With the win, the Chargers are now off until a Nov. 11 date in Tampa Bay against the Bucs and former San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Too bad, however, that San Diego can’t squeeze in a few more dates with Kansas City before the season is said and done with.
Offense – Seriously lacking just days earlier in the loss at rainy Cleveland, San Diego managed 339 total yards of offense on this night. While Ryan Mathews had a long run of 31 yards, he finished the night with only 67 yards on 13 carries. Ronnie Brown did get some substantive action, finishing with 38 yards on six carries. Rivers (18-of-20, 220 yards) finished the night with a 125 passer rating, though he threw a horrific interception right before halftime trying to fit the ball into a crowded end zone. Overall, Rivers did hit on two TD passes, and seemed to be in a better flow than four days earlier in Cleveland. Seven different players caught balls for the Chargers, with Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates getting the touchdown passes. Grade: B-
Defense – Although San Diego’s ‘D’ was going up against one of the biggest struggling QB’s going this season, it still couldn’t just take it for granted that Cassel would turn the ball over. Jarret Johnson sacked Cassel in the end zone, with Shaun Phillips recovering the subsequent fumble for the touchdown, while Demorrio Williams got the batted ball in the air and raced back 59 yards for the score in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Donald Butler was again a force, accounting for nine tackles on the evening, with Eric Weddle adding seven. The most notable stat for the Chargers was holding running back Jamaal Charles, who entered the game with 595 yards on the ground this season, to a mere 39 yards on 12 carries. Grade: A-
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.