The Chargers needed this win.
Fresh off a bye, stuck in a 2-7 stink, they knew it was now or never, that they had not yet been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and therefore still had a chance. A miniscule chance, a chance that had never happened before in history, but still … a chance.
First, they needed one win.
It would not come Sunday.
On a day when the great LaDainian Tomlinson went into the team’s Ring of Honor – the player who set the NFL record for single-season rushing touchdowns in 2006 – the Chargers could not get one touchdown of their own, instead falling to the Kansas City Chiefs, 33-3, on a warm November day in San Diego.
They are now 2-8 on the season.
"It is very disappointing," said head coach Mike McCoy. "We had an outstanding week of preparation. Watching the way we played there, you would never think that. I think the mindset of the players coming off the bye was outstanding. They worked extremely hard. We never had a good plan going in. It was just very poor in all three phases today. That's all I can say about it to be honest with you."
Here are some big moments:
CHIEFS STRUCK EARLY
The Chiefs scored first, about five minutes into the game, when defensive tackle Dontari Poe had a one-yard run – really, a jump – to find the end zone. It was creative, bold playcalling by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, and it worked.
“I just smelled the end zone, man,” Poe said after the game. “You just have to do what you have to do to get in there and the first thing that came into my head was jump.”
RUN EMPHASIS … SORTA
The first four offensive plays by Philip Rivers and Co. were run plays, with Rivers under center – something we hadn’t seen much this season. Gordon gained eight yards on those four plays. He finished the game with 37 yards on 15 attempts, an average of 2.5 yards per carry.
“We started out running the ball and then we just got behind,” Gordon said. “At that point you are just doing anything you can to get back afloat.”
It wasn’t until the end of the first quarter (1:25 remaining) that Rivers threw his first pass, a completion to TE Ladarius Green for nine yards. He followed that up with a 17-yard pass to WR Dontrelle Inman.
That drive culminated with a 52-yard field goal by rookie Josh Lambo. It would be the only points the Chargers would score Sunday.
Rivers finished the game with 19 completions for 178 yards and one interception.
PICK-SIX, PICK APART
Speaking of that interception …
It came in the third quarter, when Rivers tried to dump the ball to RB Danny Woodhead. The screen was picked off by LB Justin Houston for a 17-yard touchdown return. It was Rivers’ fourth pick-six of the season.
Wide receiver Javontee Herndon muffed a punt at the beginning of the fourth quarter, with the Chargers in rare opportunistic field position (at their own 44-yard-line). Kansas City recovered. Herndon, in the game because of injuries to Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd, also dropped two passes against the Chiefs.
“That was completely unacceptable and extremely frustrating,” Herndon said after the game. “I am not the guy who drops punts and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. So that is completely unacceptable and I need to step it up.”
BIG PLAYS A PROBLEM
San Diego’s defense allowed a 47-yard gain on the Chiefs’ second possession (a short pass from QB Alex Smith to RB Charcandrick West, who took it for a big run) … The defense went on to allow gains of 25- and 27-yards in the second quarter, and another for 52-yards in the fourth quarter.
Denzel Perryman, Manti Te’o and Corey Liuget each had sacks on Alex Smith.