An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs’ 23-20 win at San Diego and a fast-forward glance ahead:
A is for all things considered … the Chiefs are in terrific shape at 3-3 through the most grueling stretch of their schedule — against teams that are cumulatively 19-13. It’s not 9-0 like last season, but it was a much more challenging task. And six of their last 10 games are against teams with a current combined record of 10-28.
B is for bye weeks, after which coach Andy Reid now is 14-2.
C is for Cairo Santos, who was outclassed by former Chiefs’ kicker Ryan Succop in the opener against Tennessee. But he came through Sunday in a redemptive way that Succop didn’t last year, hitting the game-winning field goal late against the Chargers.
D is for defense of the Chiefs, who clamped San Diego to 251 yards of total offense, extended their season-long string of keeping opponents without a rushing touchdown and held Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to an 83.4 passer rating after Rivers had set an NFL record with five straight games with a 120 or better rating.
E is for everything, timing is, as in the Chiefs led the game for less than 15 minutes and only took it for keeps on Santos’ 48-yard field goal with 21 seconds left.
F is for first-place on the Chiefs career rushing list, a spot that belongs to Jamaal Charles after he ran for 95 yards to register 6,113 for his career, 43 more than former pace-setter Priest Holmes.
G is Gates, Antonio, whose touchdown reception from Rivers was the 67th between them, adding to their NFL record for a quarterback-tight end duo.
H is for Helix High School near San Diego, the school that produced Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 221 yards and engineered the game-winning rally.
I is for injuries noted afterward by Reid, only one: a hamstring issue for receiver Junior Hemingway, who will be evaluated today.
J is for Jamell Fleming, who started in place of struggling Marcus Cooper at cornerback. He led the Chiefs with six solo tackles but overall fared little better than Cooper has, including committing two pass interference penalties.
K is for keepaway: The Chiefs held the ball for 39 minutes to San Diego’s 21, including 13:58 of the third quarter.
L is for linebacker Justin Houston, who racked up his seventh sack of the season, tied for tops in the NFL.
M is for Mizzou’s Andrew Gachkar, a Blue Valley West product in his fourth year with the Chargers. The linebacker had three tackles Sunday.
N is for nickel defense, which the Chiefs opened the game with, thus providing rookie Phillip Gaines his first NFL start.
O is for offensive diversity of the Chiefs, who targeted 13 different receivers among Smith’s 28 passes.
P is for penalties, an unwieldy seven for 73 yards against the Chiefs. But they benefited from a crucial facemask call against the Chargers on the game-winning drive.
Q is for Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chiefs had lost six straight before Sunday.
R is for rushing yards by the Chiefs, 154, the most allowed this season by San Diego.
S is for St. Louis Rams, up next for the Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The matchup looked more promising before the Rams upended reigning NFL champion Seattle 28-26 on Sunday to improve to 2-4.
T is for Tamba Hali, the Chiefs linebacker whose 15-yard sack of Rivers means he has set opposing offenses back with 506 yards of sacks (77.5 of them) in his career. Push ‘em back another yard, and he’ll pass Neil Smith to become second only to Derrick Thomas (699) in quarterback setback yardage in Chiefs history.
U is for undistinguished: As much as the Chiefs’ 3-3 record makes for a pleasant surprise at this stage, it also is more middle-of-the-road than it even sounds. Seven teams share that perfect perch of mediocrity entering the Monday Night Football game between 3-3 Pittsburgh and 3-3 Houston … and 13 have winning records.
V is for vindication for not only Santos but the Chiefs’ braintrust in choosing him over Succop. The decision looked awful when Santos made just two of his first four attempts, but he’s now made six straight and seems to have shaken the yips.
W is for wide receiver, where the Chiefs still aren’t getting the play they need despite Dwayne Bowe’s five catches for 84 yards. The most obvious lapse Sunday was Junior Hemingway’s drop of what could have been a touchdown.
X is for X-factor Anthony Sherman, the bulldog fullback with a perhaps counterintuitive knack for pass receiving. Sherman barged into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown reception.
Y is for yards in the second half by the Chiefs, 237, after managing just 128 in the first 30 minutes.
Z is for zero correlation between the abominable opening 26-10 loss to Tennessee (now 2-5) and what’s come since … unless it was the fact it must have jarred Reid and upped the urgency. After that game, the Chiefs looked like they had a decent chance to start 0-6.