An A-to-Z rewind of the Chiefs 41-38 loss to San Diego on Sunday and a fast-forward glance ahead:
By VAHE GREGORIAN
The Kansas City Star
A is for anonymous, which San Diego’s Seyi Arijotutu virtually was before he caught the game-winning 26-yard touchdown from Philip Rivers. Before that, he had two catches for 38 yards this season. Along the same lines, San Diego tight end Ladarius Green scored his first NFL touchdown on a 60-yard pass from Rivers. “I was just hoping that I didn’t trip or fall down and fumble,” he said.
B is for box out, which burly Chiefs coach Andy Reid did to fend Rivers off from an official as Rivers was squawking over a call. “He was telling me to get on back to the huddle,” Rivers said, adding, “He kind of bumped me, but it was all in fun.” Rivers made it a point to seek out Reid after the game.
C is for Charles, Jamaal, who rushed for a season-high 115 yards and, perhaps surprisingly, rushed for two touchdowns in a game for just the third time in his career.
D is for depleted offensive line, which the Chiefs played with as starters Jon Asamoah and Eric Fisher were out with injuries. They were ably replaced by Geoff Schwartz and Donald Stephenson.
E is for eight, the number of lead changes in the game after San Diego scored first with a field goal.
F is for five, the season-high number of offensive touchdowns the Chiefs generated Sunday after the unit hadn’t had more than three in a game all season. And 38 points was the most the team had scored since a 42-24 win over Seattle on Nov. 28, 2010.
G is for giving up lots of points: San Diego’s 41 was the most against the Chiefs since a 48-3 loss at Detroit on Sept. 18, 2011.
H is for Hali, Tamba, and Houston, Justin, the outstanding Chiefs linebackers who were knocked out of the game with injuries. Hali suffered an ankle injury, Houston an injury to his elbow. Their status is uncertain for next week. “That’s a big part of our defense; we put a lot on their shoulders,” safety Eric Berry said. “Now there (are) going to have to be a lot of players that have to step up … and try to fill that hole.”
I is for inches, the difference in cornerback Sean Smith knocking away the decisive touchdown to Arijotutu. “He just made a play, that’s all,” said Smith, who unconvincingly said he won’t stew over the play. “When I walk out that door right there, it’s over.” Said Reid: “They say it’s a game of inches; we were off by an inch right there on the coverage.”
J is for Johnson, Derrick, the Chiefs linebacker who had a team-high 10 tackles and distinguished between this defeat and the 27-17 loss last week at Denver. The Broncos, he said, “beat us.” As for San Diego, “They capitalized off of some mistakes we made. They didn’t beat us.”
K is for Keenan Allen, who led the Chargers with nine receptions for 124 yards. “Man coverage, press, that’s how I like playing,” he said. “You feel like you can work off of that.”
L is for late touchdowns: San Diego not only scored the game-winner with 24 seconds left in the game, it also cut the lead to 14-10 on Danny Woodhead’s 3-yard run with 16 seconds left in the first half. “It was critical,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “A big-momentum changer.” The Chargers then took the lead on the opening drive of the second half.
M is for mortal, which Denver quarterback Peyton Manning appeared to be much of Sunday night as the Broncos squandered a 24-0 lead against the Patriots. He moved the Broncos back to a 31-31 tie before they fell on an overtime field goal. Manning completed 19 of 36 for just 150 yards. The Broncos play at Arrowhead on Sunday.
N is for nitpicking: Did the Chiefs inadvertently leave San Diego too much time by taking a timeout before they scored with 1:22 left to grab a 38-34 lead on Smith’s 5-yard TD pass to Dwayne Bowe? Reid said it was a matter of “calming the storm.” And maybe Alex Smith answered it best: “Those downs are so vital. You never know if you’re going to score on the next play.” San Diego still had to go 77 yards for the game-winning score. “We’ll take that every game,” Johnson said.
O is for one, the number of sacks the Chiefs had. It came from Berry on the Chargers last drive and seemed timely. But one play later Rivers hit Arijotutu for the game-winning touchdown. After amassing 35 sacks in their first seven games, the Chiefs have two in their last four.
P is for playoff race, which looks murkier for the Chiefs with two straight losses after they won their first nine.
Q is for Quintin Demps, who was busy fielding kickoffs. He had eight returns for 199 yards, with a long of 38, for the second-best total kick return yardage of his career. He had 220 yards on eight returns in a 2008 game.
R is for Rivers, who threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns as he completed 27 of 39 passes to orchestrate a victory that will be “one of those you never forget, that’s for sure,” he said.
S is for Alex Smith, the Chiefs quarterback, who was sharp much of the game (26 of 38) and threw for a season-high 294 yards but also tossed a costly interception.
T is for turnovers, which have been a crucial part of the Chiefs winning formula this season. They entered the game leading the NFL at plus-15, and San Diego was 24th in the league at minus 6. But the Chiefs gave up the only two turnovers of the game, including a meaningless fumble in desperation on the final play.
U is for under the radar: Tight end Anthony Fasano caught his second touchdown pass in as many games, his only two of the season.
V is for vital: a victory against Denver. Lose, and the Chiefs will officially be in a funk as they prepare for three of their last four games on the road.
W is for wheelbarrow, which San Diego’s Bront Bird apparently was trying to make of Dexter McCluster as he pulled up McCluster’s legs after tackling him on a punt return. “I think he did a little too much on that, holding my legs up in the air,” said McCluster, who vented at Bird. “I had to let him know that’s not cool.”
X is for X-factor that’s been pivotal the last two weeks: “They came out with a good game-plan: a lot of crossing routes and a lot of pick routes,” cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “Too many big plays given up by us. We have to go back to the drawing board and handle that.”
Y is for yards this season: After being outgained 491-395 on Sunday, the Chiefs now have 3,595, opponents 3,860.
Z is for Z-receiver Donnie Avery, who had a 32-yard touchdown, his first score since the opener at Jacksonville, and finished with four catches for 91 yards. He now has 32 receptions for a team-best 507 yards.