Chiefs have been down this road before

Kansas City's 28-20 loss in San Diego was almost a throwback game to some days of recent memory that the Chiefs would just as soon forget.

It's still-porous pass defense seemed incapable of stopping Drew Brees (who threw for 324 yards and three TDs, with 233 and two scores in the first half alone) or splendid tight end Antonio Gates -- who had a career-high 10 catches for 145 yards and three scores.

Poor pass coverage and missed tackles were something the Chiefs were hoping was part of their history. Not yet.

It didn't help that the Chiefs played nearly three quarters without CB Patrick Surtain, the former Pro Bowl corner acquired this year to fortify the league's worst pass defense of a year ago. Surtain twisted his knee early in the game and his availability for Oakland this week is unknown.

The Chiefs offense fell into a familiar and distressful pattern also reminiscent of the 7-9 campaign of 2004. Kansas City ran up a whole bunch of offensive yards (418) only after falling behind 21-3 at half and then spending the final 30 minutes furiously trying to catch up.

It didn't help that the Chiefs did not have touchdown machine Priest Holmes available for goal-line duty when, down 11 points early in the fourth, they settled for three points after reaching a second down at the 5-yard line and third down at the 3-yard line.

Holmes, knocked out of the game with mild head trauma in the third, also wasn't available when the Chiefs, now down 15 after Gates broke the would-be tackle of new addition Sammy Knight on a 35-yard TD play, had second down at the 2-yard line with about five minutes remaining. Replacement back Larry Johnson got nothing on second down and Trent Green was sacked on third down before the Chargers' relentless day-long pressure forced him into a go-nowhere throw on fourth.

"Those were big plays. If I'm going to be a top running back, I've got to get in," acknowledged Johnson, whose 46-yard bolt in the second quarter accounted for 42 percent of KC's first half offense and set up the only points of the first 30 minutes.

Added Dante Hall, whose 52-yard second-half punt return was just one man short of going the distance: "We had people making plays, but as a team, we've got to start capitalizing on them. We had three or four big plays we didn't convert into anything, and any one of those makes this a different ball game.

"It's like holding candy in a baby's face and then snatching it back."

Perhaps Hall also was remembering a Greg Wesley interception and 50-yard return to the Chargers' 30. That potential momentum-changer was partially offset by a Jared Allen roughness penalty at the end of the play. The opportunity passed completely when Green was sacked and stripped of the ball on a third-down play at the Chargers 13.

It was some consolation, maybe, that Green -- playing manfully despite the sudden death of his father just three days earlier -- rallied the Chiefs for a 64-yard, 7-play scoring drive that cut the Chargers lead to eight with 2:12 remaining.

But San Diego wasn't going to blow another one in the kicking game. The Chargers recovered the onside kick, and the Chiefs meager two-game winning streak and bid to get back into the thick of the AFC West race took a hit as they slipped to 4-3.

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