Chargers' fight dies in the end

The San Diego Chargers came into Sunday's game as the only team in the NFL without a fumble lost. That ended on the first series.

It happened on the fourth play of the game. LaDainian Tomlinson took the handoff and went wide left and was whipped around by Patrick Surtain, losing the ball towards the sidelines. Jared Allen jumped on it at the San Diego 37 just before rolling out of bounds. Ironically, the last fumble Tomlinson lost came against Kansas City on October 30, 2005.

San Diego's defense would hold the Chiefs to a field goal try from 42 yards out that was missed by Lawrence Tynes.

The Bolts had turned the ball over just twice all season coming into the game. Philip Rivers' interception in the first quarter matched their season total and marked the first time this year they have turned the ball over twice in the same quarter.

"We'd been embarrassed, but we were getting tired of the talk that this defense was no good, didn't have any good players, couldn't tackle or that nonsense," said Chiefs cornerback Patrick Surtain. "As a professional, you want to redeem yourself after something like that, especially against a good offense like San Diego's."

Things would get even worse. Rivers would get sacked and fumble on the San Diego 32 when Allen punched the ball loose – their third turnover in four possessions, all in the first quarter.

"They hurt us," Rivers said of the turnovers. "You can't turn it over in this kind of environment and then just count on everything to turn around at the end."

Kansas City would convert it into seven points when Damon Huard found Eddie Kennison with Quentin Jammer trailing in single coverage.

"We had too many errors: too many errors on defense, too many errors on offense," head coach Marty Schottenheimer fumed. "Turnovers certainly hurt us, but we didn't get the job done in any phase and that includes coaching."

The Chargers are 4-for-7 on fourth down conversions this year, turning a fourth-and-3 from the 37-yard line into a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

San Diego then scored on three of their four second half possessions to tie the game at 27-27 before losing on a field goal from Tynes.

"I was proud as hell of the way they fought back to get into the thing and get it to tie," said head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

"They did make some plays, a couple of third-down conversions that we need to get off the field," Kansas City defensive end Jared Allen said.

"Everything seemed great, but we just couldn't finish," said Luis Castillo.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise. Ten of the last 12 in the series have been decided by eight points or less.

Larry Johnson is one of three running backs to rush for 100 yards against the San Diego Chargers since 2004, collecting 134 yards on the ground on Sunday. It is the first time this year that the San Diego defense has allowed a team to surpass 100 yards, much less one back. The Dallas Cowboys are the only team left who has not allowed an opponent to rush for over 100 yards.

"We knew that was going to be a guy that we had to bring down and the first guy wasn't going to bring him down," Shawne Merriman began. "We had to have guys swarming to the ball making plays and we didn't do that."

"We were able to run the football and make some big plays in the passing game. Then it was ‘give the ball to Larry, our workhorse,' Kansas City quarterback Damon Huard said. "I think that's the reason we won today."

Since 1997 (150 total regular-season games), the Chargers have only allowed 60 teams to rush for more than 100 yards. Baltimore leads the NFL with the fewest 100-yard games allowed since 1997, 59. In that same time span, the Chargers have only allowed 23 individual players to rush for 100 yards against their defense, second in the league behind Pittsburgh (20).


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