Marty Helping San Diego and Kansas City?

No one can tell his players more about the roar of the crowd at Arrowhead than San Diego Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer. He has been through it all, having coached there from '89-98, and getting out of the gate, against a division opponent, on their turf, would be a huge positive on the road to the Championship. Limiting turnovers is the number one defense against the 12th man.

"But when he comes here I think there is a little extra edge for a visiting coach coming here because he knows what to tell the squad because he's lived it," said Kansas City Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil.

San Diego has a losing record all-time against Kansas City. Kansas City holds a 45-40-1 advantage over San Diego in regular season play. The two teams split last season with the Chargers winning by a 35-34 count at Qualcomm (10/13/02), while KC claimed a 24-22 victory at Arrowhead (12/22/02).

The KC domination over the Bolts has been impressive:

SD has lost six straight games to KC at Arrowhead and seven of its last eight
SD is 2-11 at Arrowhead since 1990
The Chiefs have swept the Bolts six times since 1990

The last time the Chargers won at Arrowhead came 11/24/1996. Tony Martin scored two touchdowns, spurring the Chargers to a 28-14 victory that day.

To win the Chargers must keep the 12th man out of the game. The key to that is what Schottenheimer refers to as, "the Seattle Rule". No turnovers, or at the very least, winning the turnover battle.

Kansas City led the AFC with a +16 turnover ratio (31 takes/15 gives) in 2002.

San Diego was +3 (27 takeaways/24 gives) in 2002.

A strong showing in the takeaway column typically shows up in the won-loss column.

Six other teams held a +10 mark or better – GB (+17), TB (+17), PHI (+14), ATL (+14), OAK (+12) and SF (+10) – and they finished the year with a combined 66-23-1 (.739) regular season record. Turnover proficiency typically is a common thread among postseason contenders. The last 14 Super Bowl champions have all owned a positive turnover ratio in the regular season. The last Super Bowl winner that did not end up on the positive side of the turnover chart was Washington, which went -3 (34 takes/37 gives) during the strike-shortened '87 campaign.

"The respect I have for Marty Schottenheimer is whenever he's on the field he has an advantage," said Vermeil. "He's a great football coach and his football teams play great football: fundamentally, smart, intense. Over a period of the years he was here no NFL football team played the game any smarter. Giveaway-takeaway positive ratio was unbelievable. It may not be duplicated again."

Winning the turnover battle has been a key component to KC's six-game victory streak at Arrowhead over San Diego. The Chiefs own a +9 turnover differential (15 takes/6 gives) over those six games, setting up 35.1% (61 of 174) of those points off Chargers miscues. Scoring off takeaways frequently helped KC build early leads. The Chiefs have led or been tied at halftime in all six of their last home contests with the Chargers. However, San Diego has committed just one turnover in their last two visits to Kansas City and the result has been a pair of games decided by a combined five points.

"We've been preaching ball security and taking care of the ball, and that's something Marty Schottenheimer constantly drilled into us," said fullback Tony Richardson. "He always said the team that can best hold onto the ball and not make mental mistakes will have the best opportunity to win. Many of the things Marty taught us are still a part of this organization."

Turnovers were a good barometer of San Diego's success in 2002. The Chargers posted a 7-4 mark in games with an even or positive turnover ratio last season, while going 1-4 in contests with a negative mark. Dating back to 2000, San Diego has a 2-20 record in games when it has a negative turnover ratio. Clearly, winning the turnover battle will once again be a key in this week's contest.

Denis Savage can be reached a

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