Key plays: Chase Daniel completed passes of 20 and 14 yards to tight end Travis Kelce on a 94-yard touchdown drive that spilled into the second quarter.
Key stat: Daniel was seven of seven passing for 59 yards and ran twice for 16 yards.
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Key play: Chiefs rookie De’Anthony Thomas returned two punts 63 yards, setting up two Cairo Santos field goals.
Key stat: Santos’ three field goals and extra point gave him 110 points, breaking Jan Stenerud’s rookie record of 108 in 1967.
Key play: Justin Houston sacked Philip Rivers and forced a fumble at the San Diego 14.
Key stat: The sack was Houston’s third of the game and 21st of the season, breaking Derrick Thomas’ franchise-record 20 in 1990.
Key plays: Ron Parker broke up a pass intended for the Chargers’ Eddie Royal on third and goal from the 3, and Husain Abdullah broke up a pass for Antonio Gates on fourth down.
Key stat: Chiefs were just two of 12 on third downs.
Player of the game: Justin Houston, who was also probably the player of the season.
Reason to hope: In Andy Reid’s third season at Philadelphia, the Eagles reached the 2001 NFC championship game.
Reason to mope: The Chiefs will ponder losses to Tennessee and Oakland deep into the offseason.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs likely will open the 2015 season at home on Sept. 13 because the Royals are at Baltimore that weekend.
Randy Covitz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamaal Charles, playing with foot, ankle and hamstring issues, didn’t have a vintage day but averaged 4.2 yards a pop, which is considered a success for most backs. Chase Daniel was effective on a zone read and some scrambles.
Daniel, making his first start of the season on short notice, completed his first nine passes for 72 yards. But he was a victim of poor protection and off-target throws and completed just seven of his last 18. Tight end Travis Kelce came up with some clutch catches. Allowing four sacks gave the Chiefs 49 for the season, way too many.
The Chargers’ diminutive Branden Oliver burrowed his way to a 5.1-yard average on 14 carries, but the Chiefs limited his longest run to 18 yards. The Chargers might have given up on the running game too soon.
The Chiefs kept the heat on Philip Rivers all day, sacking him seven times — including a career-best four by Justin Houston, who set a franchise record with 22 for the season. Safety Kurt Coleman intercepted two passes, the first by the Chiefs in nine weeks, dating to the St. Louis game on Oct. 26.
De’Anthony Thomas came close to breaking at least two punt returns for touchdowns and gave the Chiefs excellent field position. Cairo Santos made four of five field goals, and Dustin Colquitt averaged 48.6 net yards punting, including one that was downed at the 4.
The offensive coaches got Daniel ready to play in a hurry as he had just one day of practice with the first unit to prepare for the game. The defense had a new wrinkle with rookie linebacker Dee Ford blitzing from a middle linebacker spot.
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