Chargers lacked fire

The Chargers had one last play for the playoffs this past weekend and came out with no emotion or drive. While the coach says Kansas City beat them, it was clear they were beat before the game started.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Drew Brees was off for most the day, as he overshot some of his receivers -- LaDainian Tomlinson over the middle on a sure touchdown -- and was short on other efforts. Brees completed 18 of 33 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But down the stretch when the Chargers needed him the most, he was 3-for-11 with a sack in the Chargers' last series. The pass-blocking was decent enough, although many of Brees' passes came when he was on the run.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Tomlinson didn't feel bad regarding his bruised chest. But what bothered him Saturday was the suspect run-blocking and a muddy field that wasn't conducive to a cutback runner. Still, Tomlinson was often met in the backfield and never could get running downhill. He finished with 47 yards on 14 carries. The line, basically, had its doors blown off by the Chiefs.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- The secondary allowed big plays, including sloppy coverage on Samie Parker's 42-yard scoring catch. And the defensive backfield was exposed on Larry Johnson's 28-yard scoring reception when he ran over Jamar Fletcher, Quentin Jammer, Clinton Hart and Drayton Florence. The pass rush didn't give much help with just two sacks; Trent Green was seldom rushed as he went through his reads with time to spare.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Chargers welcomed the challenge of stopping Johnson, who had rushed for at least 100 yards in seven straight games. Make that eight. The Chargers' top-ranked run defense was punched in the mouth by Johnson and his offensive line, which showed why it has three Pro Bowlers. The Chargers were unable to get any penetration on running plays, and by the time the linebackers made tackles, Johnson was 4 or 5 yards down the field.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The return game hasn't done much of late, and that's particularly true on punts. Eric Parker had two efforts for 3 yards. He fumbled away his last one, which was the Chargers' last gasp for a comeback. The coverage unit allowed 44-yard punt return by Dante Hall but kept him to a long of 26 on kickoffs.

COACHING: F -- It's asking a lot to get a team to reach an emotional peak two weeks in a row, and Marty Schottenheimer couldn't do it. After being so hyped to play and beat the Colts the previous week, the Chargers had little left for a do-or-die game in Kansas City. The Chargers showed no spark and seemed to let the adverse conditions get under their skin. The Chargers kept trying to run in the middle of a muddy field instead of shooting for the edges. They did a little more in the second half, but by that time Johnson was wearing down a defense that was horrible on third downs.

Chiefs Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Not great numbers (19 of 35 for 207 yards with one TD), but passing was treacherous in the second half after daylong rains turned the field into a mud bath. Trent Green made the throws he had to in the first half when conditions were still workable with a beautiful 42-yard touchdown bomb to Samie Parker. Remember, 28 of his passing yards came when Larry Johnson turned a 3-yard hitch into a touchdown.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Johnson had 131 yards rushing and a 4.1-yard average against a San Diego defense that was No. 1 against the run coming in, yielding only 75 rushing yards a game before Johnson gashed them.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Drew Brees hit only eight of 19 second-half passes for 51 yards as conditions worsened. Kansas City gave up only a couple of big passing plays, a 18-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates and a 22-yard throw to Gates. But the league's most productive tight end was held to four catches for 52 yards after burning the Chiefs for 10 catches, 145 yards and three TDs in San Diego's win at Qualcomm Stadium.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Holding LaDainian Tomlinson to 49 yards -- his second-lowest total of the year -- on a wet day when both teams wanted to run the ball is an "A" performance. After watching Tiki Barber run through their tackles all day the previous week, the Chiefs put lots of people around Tomlinson and brought him down usually on first contact.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Only Dante Hall's 44-yard punt return to set up the Chiefs' first 43-yard touchdown drive saves this from being an "F." P Dustin Colquitt had the worst day of his rookie season, averaging a mere 30.6 yards on five punts. His net was 30.0 mainly because San Diego didn't have to return any. He also bobbled a PAT snap in a failed attempt. K Lawrence Tynes wasn't even close on a 52-yard try, and he advised coaches not to attempt a 45-yarder in the fourth quarter amid windy, wet conditions.

COACHING: B -- Offensive coordinator Al Saunders stuck effectively with his run-pass balance in the first half before conditions worsened in the second and he adjusted nicely. His running calls often were outside plays where the turf was more solid. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham did an artful job of rallying his players after last week's embarrassment in New York. The only coaching blunder was expending all three second-half timeouts on one early fourth-quarter series in which a Chiefs drive to the 28 died when, after using their last timeout before a fourth-and-long play, Kansas City elected not to attempt a 45-yard field goal and got nothing but a short dump pass.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories