Key play: Josh Lambo missed a 42-yard field goal that would have given the Chargers a 3-0 lead late in the quarter.
Key stat: The Chiefs were sloppy with penalties early, as they were whistled four times for 28 yards.
Key play: Alex Smith caught the Chargers in a blitz and connected with Albert Wilson over the middle for a 44-yard score.
Key stat: The Chiefs averaged 8.9 yards per play in the first half, while the Chargers averaged 3.9.
Key play: Charcandrick West turned a short catch in the flat into a 63-yard play that would have given the Chiefs a 14-point lead, but a pass-interference penalty on tight end Travis Kelce negated the touchdown, and the Chiefs had to punt.
Key stat: The Chargers converted only 38 percent of their third-down opportunities heading into the fourth quarter.
Key play: On the final play of the game, linebacker Dee Ford had the coverage on running back Danny Woodhead, who failed to come up with a catch in the end zone that could have put the Chargers in position to win the game.
Key stat: The Chiefs’ defense came up big when needed more times than not, with the Chargers just six for 18 on third-down conversions.
Spencer Ware tore up the Chargers in a 33-3 Chiefs win three weeks ago, but Ware and Charcandrick West split the duties evenly Sunday, frustrating San Diego and fantasy football owners alike. West had 10 carries for 54 yards, while Ware had eight carries for 52 yards. Quarterback Alex Smith also chipped in 40 yards, and the Chiefs finished with a rock-solid 6.0 yards per carry in 25 attempts, which will earn them an “A” every time.
Smith completed 15 of 23 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was largely on Smith, too, since he audibled the Chiefs into the ideal play for the situation. But he also saw his interception-free streak come to an end in the second quarter, and while he was only sacked twice, the passing game never got completely untracked.
The Chargers’ running game is one of the worst in the league, despite the presence of first-round pick Melvin Gordon. The Chiefs’ defense did its job, holding the Chargers to 44 rushing yards and a meager 2.4 yards per carry.
After star quarterback Philip Rivers threw for a paltry 178 yards in a home loss to the Chiefs, you just knew he was going to turn in a better performance Sunday. He did, too, completing 24 of 43 passes for 263 yards. But the Chiefs still sacked him five times and intercepted him once, and they kept the Chargers out of the end zone in crunch time.
Kicker Cairo Santos went one for two on field goals, though the miss was affected by an errant snap. Punter Dustin Colquitt dropped two of four punts inside the 20, which was fine. Frankie Hammond had a big punt return taken away by a penalty, but he didn’t do himself any favors by fumbling away a punt. The Chargers missed a field goal as well, but the Chiefs’ fumble, missed field goal and 34-yard kick return they surrendered to Javontee Herndon make it tough to give them a passing grade.
The Chiefs got away from the inside running game at times, which is interesting because the Chargers are not good at defending the run. The Chiefs’ defense was fine, for the most part. Also, while there are lots of reasons penalties get called, they ultimately fall on the coaching staff, and Chiefs had eight penalties for 53 yards, including some crucial ones that wiped away big plays.
Player of the game: Hello, Dee Ford. The 2014 first-round pick made the second start of his career a memorable one, with a team-high seven tackles and three sacks.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs are rolling, winning seven straight, and the promising play of Ford should allow them to give Justin Houston extra rest as he recovers from a knee sprain.
Reason to mope: This game was probably too close, considering the disappointing Chargers dropped to 3-10 with the loss. But trap games are real in the NFL, and the dreary weather contributed to the Chargers’ unsuccessful attempt at an upset bid.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs’ final three games are all against sub-.500 teams — Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland — so they have a legitimate shot to go 11-5. What a turnaround after a 1-5 start.