The key plays, stats and grades from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 37-27 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.
Player of the game: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith turned in a fine individual performance, completing 21 of 28 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and a fluky interception off a tipped ball at the line. His passer rating of 112.8 is his third-highest of the season. He also rushed six times for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs earned a first-round bye for the first time 2003. They are extremely banged up at this point and multiple players spoke after the game about the need for some time to rest their bodies. Chiefs coach Andy Reid also said Justin Houston, who has missed the last several weeks with knee swelling, is expected to play in the divisional round. Reid said safety Eric Berry, missed the last chunk of the game with what Reid described as “tightness” in his heel, is expected to play too.
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Reason to mope: Don’t nitpick this. The Chiefs won the AFC West for the first time since 2010, snapping Denver’s five-year streak. Enjoy that, Kansas City.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs (12-4) will host Pittsburgh, Houston or Oakland in the divisional round on Jan. 14 or 15. It will be the first Chiefs’ first playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium since 2010.
Rushing offense: The Chargers entered the game ranked 10th in rushing defense at 97.6 yards per game; the Chiefs finished with 103 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. The 3.3 yards-per-carry average isn’t great but it certainly got the job done. The touchdown came on an Alex Smith run. Charcandrick West stepped in for an injured Spencer Ware and finished with 58 yards on 16 carries; he also had five catches for 58 yards.
Passing offense: The Chargers entered the game with the league’s 19th-best passing defense, yielding 248.3 yards per game. The Chiefs finished with 264, as Alex Smith went 21 of 28 and threw two touchdowns. His pick-6 was fluky – it was tipped at the line – but it happened, nonetheless, which dings the grade. West led the team in catches and yards, but Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley and Jeremy Maclin all had at least four catches and 46 yards apiece. Good, balanced performance overall.
Rushing defense: The Chargers entered the game with the league’s 27th-best rushing offense at 92.1 yards per game; they finished with 129 despite a banged-up line and their top three running backs out with injuries. New York Giants castoff Andre Williams finished with 87 yards on 18 carries, and the Chargers ran for 5 yards per carry. It was good enough for the win but the numbers aren’t great.
Passing defense: The Chargers entered the game with the league’s sixth-best passing offense at 261.9 yards per game; the Chiefs held them to 269 yards. A terrific effort against a dangerous gunslinger in quarterback Philip Rivers and an offense that can put some points on the board. The Chiefs didn’t sack Rivers, and he was only pressured twice, but they still intercepted him twice (by Marcus Peters and Daniel Sorensen). Both plays led to scores and curbed whatever momentum the Chargers were trying to cultivate.
Special teams: Tyreek Hill broke a return 95 yards for a touchdown, essentially putting the Chargers away in the third quarter. Cairo Santos, who missed a field goal and an extra point last week, had a perfect day, drilling three field goals. Dustin Colquitt dropped his only punt inside the 20. Really nice day for Dave Toub’s group.
Coaching: The Chiefs played hard, and they played well. They were well-prepared, and they took care of business on the road against a team that didn’t have anything to play for. The offensive and defensive game plans were good – the offense featured some unique formations, by the way – and the fact the Chiefs scored two touchdowns on essentially the same play was an indication of good coaching. Nothing to complain about here.