Bolts Spear Chiefs, 24-10

Herm Edwards warned his team not to fall behind against the Chargers. His players were unable to oblige and Kansas City's worst case scenario quickly unfolded. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns and the defense racked up a season-high eight sacks as the Chargers downed the Chiefs, 24-10.

Norv Turner talked all week about the importance of finishing strong, especially on the road. The Chargers received his message load and clear and scored the final 21 points of Sunday's divisional win. The Chargers notched just their second road win of the season, although both came against division opponents.

The catalyst for the victory was LaDainian Tomlinson, who earlier this week heard questions from local media about whether he had lost a step. The proved the notion laughable by busting loose for 177 yards on 23 carries (7.7 yards per tote) and scoring two touchdowns to tie and pass Walter Payton for third place on the all-time rushing touchdowns list.

San Diego's other offensive All Pro, Antonio Gates, enjoyed a less spectacular outing. He caught just one pass for -1 yard and was significantly outshined by his Kansas City counterpart. Tony Gonzalez tied his season high with 10 catches and accumulated a season-best 140 yards. Even Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen, who played tight end for one snap, outperformed Gates, catching a 2-yard touchdown on a play-action pass in the second quarter.

The Chargers' entire passing game was held in check. Philip Rivers completed 10-of-21 passes for 157 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His best pass was a 38-yard touchdown to Vincent Jackson that tied the game at 10 before the half. It was Jackson's third score of the season. Brandon Manumaleuna chipped in a 40-yard catch-and-run, the second-longest reception of his seven-year career.

The defense delivered its most aggressive showing of the season. It started with containing Kolby Smith, who one week earlier ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders. The Chargers limited Smith to 83 yards on 21 carries and held him out of the end zone. Stephen Cooper led the charge, piling up double-digit tackles for the second time this season (10).

As impressive as the run defense was, the eight sacks represent the sexy stat of the game. Shawne Merriman picked up three sacks in his third multi-sack game of the season. Merriman now has 10 multi-sack games in his career, and the Chargers are 9-1 in such contests. Shaun Phillips added 1.5 sacks and five other defenders got in on the action. Jyles Tucker picked up the first half-sack of his career.

The heavy pressure allowed the secondary to return to its pass-thieving ways. After going consecutive games without an interception for the first time all season, the Chargers intercepted three passes in Kansas City. Antonio Cromartie paced the defense with two picks, upping his league-leading total to eight. Drayton Florence added his second interception of the season.

The special teams were solid, although Nate Kaeding missed a 45-yard field goal. In a quirky stat, the Chargers are 3-0 when Kaeding misses a field goal.

The win guarantees the Chargers will remain in sole possession of first place in the AFC West with four games to go. The West in now a two-horse race between the Chargers and Broncos, as the Chiefs and Raiders are assured of having non-winning seasons. The Chargers finish their two-game road trip next week against the Tennessee Titans.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.


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