Chargers Pound the Chiefs, Win Sixth Straight

If the Chiefs are the litmus test, this year's Chargers squad is much better than last year's. After beating the Chiefs by one point in each of last season's meetings, the Chargers dominated Kansas City in both games this year, winning by a combined score of 80-21 and improving their division record to 5-1.

After going three-and-out on its first two drives, San Diego's offense scored touchdowns on four of its next five series to turn the game into a blowout. Antonio Gates scored two TDs in the first half, matching his season total, while LaDainian Tomlinson scored once on each side of intermission as the Chargers racked up a season-high 43 points.

"Certainly, today we came out about as crisp as we have all year," Philip Rivers said. "After that first quarter, we separated ourselves and cruised in the second half."

LB Tim Dobbins
Donald Miralle/Getty
The offense's success was set up by a defense that forced four turnovers -- a pick by Quentin Jammer and a trio of fumble recoveries. The offense turned three of those takeaways into TDs while the defense handled the other one itself, with Paul Oliver returning a Matt Cassel fumble 40 yards for his first career score.

The defense contributed to the scoreboard again in the fourth quarter when Cassel -- under heavy pressure from Tim Dobbins -- threw the ball away from his own end zone to draw an intentional-grounding flag and give the Chargers a safety.

"I liked the intensity we had. I think we're getting better," Norv Turner said. "Defensively, we were great at getting turnovers and pressuring."

The two Chiefs players who gave San Diego trouble were RB Jamaal Charles and former Charger Chris Chambers. Charles carried 14 times for 93 yards (6.6 ypc) and added 54 more yards on three receptions. And Chambers showed his old team that he can still make plays, catching a team-high seven passes for 70 yards and a score.

However, the man who replaced Chambers in the starting lineup had a big game, too. Malcom Floyd caught three passes for a season-high 85 yards. His first grab, a leaping 53-yard reception, set up Tomlinson's 1-yard scoring plunge in the second quarter.

With the win, the Chargers boosted their divisional record to 5-1 and put the pressure on the Denver Broncos, who are one game back in the division, to win all of their of their remaining games inside the division. Denver's first test comes next week when it travels to Arrowhead to take on a Chiefs team that figures to be highly motivated following Sunday's embarrassing performance.

"We'd like to be 6-0 against [division opponents], but we'll take 5-1," Tomlinson said. "It's another successful year, but we know a championship begins in the division. If you can't beat the guys in your division, you're not going to win the championship."

San Diego's hopeful march towards a fourth consecutive division title continues next week in Cleveland against a struggling 1-10 Browns outfit.

What are fans saying about the win over the Chiefs? Find out in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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