Chargers vs. Chiefs: Takeaways from San Diego's 41-38 Win over Kansas City
The Chargers held their own in a barn-burner with their AFC West rivals, settling for the game-winning touchdown from Philip Rivers to Seyi Ajirotutu with 31 seconds remaining in the game. With the win, the Chargers continue to fight their way back into the AFC playoff picture.
Here are takeaways from today's upset win.
Chargers Offensive Line Catches Break with Injuries to Chiefs Pass Rush
It's never good to see a player go down with an injury, but the losses of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to the Chiefs pass rush was much appreciated by the Chargers offensive line.
Between the two of them, Hali and Houston have combined for 20 sacks on the season and are arguably the heart of a Kansas City defense that forced 24 takeaways. With Hali and Houston lost early with ankle and elbow injuries, the Chargers survived the onslaught with no turnovers and just one sack allowed.
Ryan Mathews Finds Early Success, Leaves Game with Injury
Mathews finished his day with 55 yards on 14 carries, including a leaping touchdown near the goal line.
Unfortunately, the injury-prone back was forced to leave the game when he aggravated a hamstring injury. San Diego managed to come out on top in the end thanks to Rivers, but it looked like the Chargers could have benefited from Mathews' strong running down the stretch.
Keenan Allen Comes Up Big...Again
Offensive Rookie of the Year may be a title Keenan Allen sees in the near future with the numbers he's put up this season, and he continued to make his case for the honors with his day against the Chiefs.
By halftime, Allen had already accumulated 104 yards receiving on eight catches before finishing with nine catches for 124. Allen led San Diego's receivers with 12 targets and averaged 13.8 yards a catch.
Danny Woodhead Scores Twice, Ladarius Green Catches First Career TD
Danny Woodhead's first-half touchdown catch pulled the Chargers within four points before halftime, and his rushing touchdown in the second half gave his team its third lead of the game. Woodhead also had back-to-back catches of 19 and 14 yards that helped set up the game-winning score on San Diego's last drive of the game.
Ladarius Green caught his first career touchdown pass on a 60-yard strike from Rivers in the fourth quarter to give his team one of its four leads in the second half. The second-year tight end also finished with 80 yards receiving (his second straight game with more than 80 yards receiving).
Penalties Come in Bunches for Chargers
The Chargers were flagged for nine penalties worth nearly 100 yards on Sunday. A good chunk of those flags came in the second half, specifically from the secondary, which struggled miserably to contain Kansas City's offense.
On a drive midway through the third quarter, Shareece Wright, Marcus Gilchrist and Richard Marshall were flagged for separate pass interference penalties, which eventually led to a Chiefs touchdown.
Derek Cox Benched, D.J. Fluker Injured Late in Game
If Derek Cox didn't know how Donnie Avery spelled his last name before, he probably does now after watching No. 17 blow by him for a touchdown and some other big gains.
Cox was benched a third time in a stretch of four games for his struggling play, and now Tom Telesco's offseason signing is beginning to look like a complete miss. On top of that, San Diego's celebratory ways after the game were stalled when rookie tackle D.J. Fluker went down with an apparent knee injury during an extra point attempt.
Fluker was able to walk off the field under his own power with help, but the replays made his injury look a lot worse than it initially seemed.
Antonio Gates with His 700th Reception, Ajirotutu's Lucky No. 3
Antonio Gates caught just three passes for 21 yards as the Chiefs defense made it a priority to double-team the veteran tight end.
However, Gates still got his name into the history books by becoming the fourth tight end in NFL history with 700 career receptions and 9,000 yards receiving. Meanwhile, Ajirotutu hasn't enjoyed as fruitful a career in the NFL, but his third career touchdown catch was the game-winner of Sunday's high-stakes game.
Rivers Joins NFL Legends with Performance in Kansas City
Rivers didn't just throw for more than 300 yards, three touchdowns and the game-winner on Sunday. In fact, he placed himself in good company by joining Joe Montana and Dan Marino in the process.
The Chargers quarterback tied Montana and Marino for most games with more than 390 yard passing in a single season (4). He also has three games with more than 400 yards passing this season and is leading the league in completion percentage.