Same Story, Different Ending

Bolts Backer hoped their team would come out of the bye week looking like the squad that ripped off eight consecutive wins last season. Instead, the same problems persisted. Philip Rivers threw two picks and the defense failed to force a turnover for the third straight game. But with one crucial stop, those issues were bumped to the backseat.

If there really is no such thing as an ugly win, then Sunday's victory was as close as you can get. Philip Rivers served up just his second multi-interception game of the season, throwing careless picks to safeties Bernard Pollard and Jon McGraw. The defense, despite a strong second half, had issues of its own, allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to pile up 339 yards of total offense.

The Chargers pass defense continued its atrocious play under new coordinator Ron Rivera. QB Tyler Thigpen completed 66 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Thigpen's top three targets -- Tony Gonzalez, Dwayne Bowe and Mark Bradley -- combined for 25 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns.

CB Quentin Jammer
Jeff Gross/Getty

While those numbers are almost commonplace for Chargers opponents, what was different on Sunday was the ending. After allowing the Chiefs to score the apparent tying TD, the Chargers buckled down and stopped a game-deciding two-point conversion.

The stop was a significant mental boost for a team that has watched the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos walk away with last-minute victories earlier this season. Just as important was the way in which the Chargers came up with the stop – a heavy dose a pressure with good safety play behind it. Those two ingredients have been absent most of the season.

The defensive stop bailed out an offense that failed to top 20 points for just the third time this season. The primary issue on offense -- other than the turnovers -- was the lack of a consistent running game.

Despite LaDainian Tomlinson playing at 100 percent for the first time since Week 1, the Chargers as a team rushed for just 92 yards on 26 carries (3.5 ypc).

The passing attack did the heavy lifting and the receivers were up to the task. Malcom Floyd, starting in place of Chris Chambers (ankle), posted four catches for 76 yards and the Chargers' first TD. On the other side, Vincent Jackson stayed on pace for his first 1,000-yard season by hauling in five balls for a team-high 83 yards.

With the receivers playing well outside the hashes, Antonio Gates had a heyday over the middle. Gates led the Chargers with a season-high eight receptions, good for 66 yards and a touchdown. It was his fourth-quarter score that put the Chargers ahead for good with 6:59 to play.

On a day when the Chargers were hoping for a whole lot of changes, it was the consistent play of Gates that made Norv Turner glad some things never change.

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