Playoffs were the goal coming into the game but the Chargers didn't play with any urgency. While the Chiefs displayed a definite mean streak, the Chargers played tame and the result of the game was obvious.
"I think they just wanted it more," a frustrated Antonio Gates said. "I think it meant more for them to win this game than it did for us. And it was proven with the play and intensity that they played with."
"Of course there was desperation," Chiefs' cornerback Patrick Surtain countered. "We knew if we lost, we couldn't go to the playoffs. As long as you have something to play for, guys are going to go out and give it their all. We're still in this thing."
"We understood coming into this game that they were 17-0 at home in December and they were still fighting for a playoff spot," Gates said. "They wanted to protect their home field advantage. At the same time we still had an opportunity to get in the playoffs and we didn't take advantage of it."
The hype had grown so big during the week that you could sense a letdown waiting to happen. Everyone was already talking about an 11-5 team that missed the playoffs – the first in some 20 years.
It just so happened that they had to get win number ten before moving on to number 11.
"It was very disappointing," linebacker Donnie Edwards said of being eliminated. "We were riding a high after beating the Colts in their home place."
And now the low can go no lower. The Chargers came into the season expecting a playoff berth. But a slow start that put them at 3-4 meant an uphill climb, one ascent that ended when the boulder crushed them in the end.
One more win and next week's game took on a new level of importance. Kansas City knew what winning Saturday's game meant to the rest of their season.
"That was our whole goal coming in today – just to try and stay alive and give ourselves a chance for next week," quarterback Trent Green said. "I don't know how good those chances are but the fact remains we are still alive.
The Chargers can only live with regret.
"We are disappointed as can be," said head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
"Of course it is disheartening," added linebacker Shaun Phillips.
And now the Bolts will be on the field next Saturday but their heads will be on the golf course. It seemed like they left for the clubhouse a week early.
"It's pretty frustrating," said running back LaDainian Tomlinson. "After we lost to Miami, we knew we had to win the last three games. We felt like we had a good shot at doing it. We had to play three good games, Colts, Kansas City and then Denver. We didn't expect to lose. But when you play good teams you have to play consistent football."
If you were hoping for a Happy Holiday, we can only hope you get the rest of the wish list. The Chargers talked about wanting a win but no star they wished upon could have given it to them with the game they played on Saturday.