SAN DIEGO – Every time I come here, I'm amazed at how many people come to games. Not because games aren't fun, or are too expensive, or the Chargers are a bad team, but because there's a beach. That's free. And a thousand other things to do.
These are true fans.
Also, the Chargers' powder blues are just fantastic.
Let's get to it, the Insta-reaction of a 23-20 win over the Chargers here in one of America's great cities. As always, this is basically a collection of notes filed when the clock goes to zeros, so please excuse the messiness:
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- I know I'm not the only one who thought Cairo Santos' job was on the line with that 48-yard field goal with 21 seconds left. That was his sixth straight make, and there might be something to the way his teammates swarmed him afterward.
- A LOT of De'Anthony Thomas in the game plan this week, and the ceiling is all there. Quickness, explosiveness. He's a better Dexter McCluster, which I think is what a lot of us thought before the season.
- That's all great, too, because the Chiefs are in desperate need of speed.
- A LOT of Jamaal Charles, too, and not just that incredible, Barry Sanders-esque run to the right sideline, cut back, and dive over the goal line. That was the play that made Charles the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher, of course. Seems like Andy Reid is tired of talking about not giving Charles the ball enough, which is a good thing.
- Charles, I imagine, has to especially love that he finished it off not just with a touchdown but with a touchdown by knocking the bejeezus out of Brandon Flowers. The questions about Charles' durability and toughness have always ticked him off.
- Of course, when certain guys are getting the ball a lot, it means others can't, and at least this week, the most noticeable guy getting overlooked was Travis Kelce. Kelce did have what would've been a nice gain in the third quarter wiped out by an offensive pass interference call on Anthony Fasano (I guess the refs do penalize pick plays every once in a while) and made a key play on that last drive in the fourth quarter, but they could've run things through him a bit more.
- That drop by Junior Hemingway at the end of the first half … mercy. Can't have that. Inexcusable. Atrocious. Might've been a 14-point swing. Early in the second half, the Chiefs announced him out for the rest of the game with a hamstring injury, but that drop is the kind of thing that could push his playing time down anyway. Like Terez said, that was the worst drop the Chiefs have had since McCluster in Buffalo last year.
- Mike McGlynn, still scuffling.
- Marcus Cooper, benched. I was wrong about him. I was a big believer last year. Still think he can be a good player, but it's not looking good.
- The Chiefs wide receivers are horrendous. My gosh. This is what we were all talking about before the season, but it's not often the popular fan/media narrative turns out to be undersold. Not just Hemingway's drop, but Dwayne Bowe had a terrible drop on a third down pass early in the second half that may've been the difference between a field goal and a touchdown. A.J. Jenkins missed what would've been a big play in the first half, on a deep out route. A good receiver makes that play (though, in fairness, the throw from Alex Smith could've been better, too).
- Meanwhile, Kelvin Benjamin is doing OK for himself.
- On the positive side, Phillip Gaines played well. That could be an important development. And I even typed those words before he knocked down that pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
- The Chiefs are MAD at Donald Stephenson, huh?
- We haven't talked about the defense much here yet, but they were really good, with the exception of the Chargers' touchdown drive just before halftime.
- Tamba Hali got around the left tackle for a strip of Rivers, and then Justin Houston got the sack. The pressure was fairly consistent, I thought, and Jamell Fleming held up OK after being picked on early.
- Josh Mauga, in particular, played really well. He's been very good stepping in after Derrick Johnson's injury.
- Part of the defense's success was that the offense kept them off the field. The Chargers ran three – THREE – plays in the third quarter.
- Alex Smith came through in the fourth quarter, less than two minutes left, the length of the field to go for the win. And he did it without great weapons.