Chiefs

Chiefs could end interception drought against Chargers’ Philip Rivers

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali stripped the football out of the hands of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during their game in October.
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali stripped the football out of the hands of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during their game in October. The Kansas City Star

The Chiefs have a league-low four interceptions and haven’t picked off a pass since Oct. 26 against St. Louis. But if ever there was a chance to end that streak of 316 passes without an interception, it could be against the Chargers.

While San Diego’s Philip Rivers has thrown 31 touchdown passes this season, he’s been intercepted 16 times, tied for second-most in the NFL and trailing only Jacksonville rookie Blake Bortles’ 17. And in his career, Rivers has been intercepted 18 times by the Chiefs (more than against any other team) in 18 games, including safety Kurt Coleman’s game-clinching pick in Kansas City’s 23-20 win at San Diego on Oct. 19. (The Chiefs face the Chargers Sunday, Dec. 28 at noon.)

Rivers threw three interceptions last week against San Francisco but came back and threw four touchdown passes in a 38-35 win that kept the Chargers’ playoff hopes alive.

“Rivers has been a great quarterback for that reason,” said Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. “He’s not afraid to throw the ball into tight windows. One of the things he’s done really well in the last two years was take advantage of the check down and the underneath routes probably more than he ever has.

“He has a big-time arm, and he can get a ball in, in tough situations. He’s a very competitive guy. It’s one of the things that makes him great, and it’s also one of the things that we have to try to take advantage of if he gets it into those real tight windows.”

New Pro Bowl format

Both outside linebacker Tamba Hali and running back Jamaal Charles like the Pro Bowl format that was introduced last year that scrubbed the AFC vs. NFC matchup in favor of a player draft for each team, regardless of conference.

“Last year, we competed more,” said Hali, a four-time Pro Bowler. “Other times I was there, we weren’t into it. Last year, we did the draft, and guys from the same team were on different teams, and we competed. I like it.”

Charles was a Pro Bowl captain last season but would prefer not to be choosing the players this year.

“I’d rather not be in the draft room,” Charles said. “I know it’s going to be hectic in the draft room. But it was fun being a captain … I had a great time, but if I am able to be a captain again, my time will come again.”

At least this year, Charles won’t be going against teammate Derrick Johnson, who was on the other team and drilled him on a carry. Johnson is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury.

Chargers homecomings

The Chargers have two Kansas City products on their special teams. Safety Darrell Stuckey of Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan., and linebacker Andrew Gachkar of Blue Valley West, are tied for second on the team with 11 special teams tackles.

Stuckey, a fourth-round pick from Kansas in 2010, scored his first NFL touchdown on a 53-yard fumble return against New England on Dec. 7. Gachkar, a seventh-round pick from Missouri in 2011, has made five starts and scored his first career touchdown when he returned a fumble 13 yards against St. Louis on Nov. 23.

Also, San Diego tight end John Phillips, who caught a 1-yard touchdown pass against the Chiefs on Oct. 19, is married to Nikki Phillips, who plays for FC Kansas City in the National Women’s Soccer League.

To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to rcovitz@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @randycovitz.

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