The Chiefs played hard on Sunday but in the end it came down to making plays in crunch time. The Chargers made them thanks to their rookie kicker and another veteran lets the Chiefs down this time a key interception from Trent Green by linebacker Donnie Edwards did them in and this team continues to struggle and find ways to lose football games. This organization needs to start the overhaul now. No reason to wait until the off-season.
The game started like so many have this season as the Chargers took the opening kick-off and used the nimble feet and arm of quarterback Drew Brees. The soon to be free agent signal caller used the bootleg and short passing to get the Chargers inside the Chiefs ten yard line. But unlike previous games the Chiefs defense held their ground. On third down Brees tired to find stellar tight end Antonio Gates but his pass went array as safety Willie Pile had outstanding coverage on the play.
Rookie kicker Nate Kaeding came in and attempted to give the Chargers a 3-0 lead but he missed a chip shot from 29-yards out. The former Iowa native was making his first appearance back in the Midwest. Still that gave the Chiefs some momentum but the offense wasted the fortunes of the defense.
Kansas City went three and out giving the ball back to the Chargers quick strike offense as they took over at their own 41-yard line. Brees looking to take advantage of the Chiefs corners lofted a beautiful 55-yard pass to wide out Eric Parker who was finally pushed out of bounds at the 2-yard line by William Bartee who was beaten badly on the play. Two plays later LaDainian Tomlinson scored from a yard out giving the Chargers a 7-0 lead. The drive only took one minute off the clock and the Chiefs were fortunate to only be trailing by seven points.
Showing some fire the Chiefs offense took a cue from the Chargers offense and used the play action to move the ball. Trent Green after nearly throwing an interception facing a first and ten from the Chargers 30 yard line; found Tony Gonzalez on a picture perfect 25-yard gainer that gave Kansas City a first and goal from the five yard line. On the next play running back Derrick Blaylock scored his sixth touchdown of the season tying the score at 7-7 with 4:26 left in the first quarter. On the drive Kansas City moved 60-yards in just six plays.
In the second quarter after the Chiefs defense forced the Chargers to punt, the KC offense took over at the six yard line. The Chiefs offense went back to work by using their third string running back. Former first round draft pick Larry Johnson took over in the Chiefs backfield and managed to chew up the Chargers defense for 39 yards on six rushing attempts. The last run resulted in a five-yard touchdown that gave the Chiefs a 14-7 lead with 9:05 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing possession the Chargers offense went back to work. As they marched down the field on a 12-play drive that had the Chiefs defense back-peddling. Despite an offensive pass interference penalty the Chargers were 3-3 on third down conversions on the drive including two that were from double digit distances. With no pass rush, Brees continued to pick apart the Chiefs secondary with precise fashion and he was able to keep attacking the Chiefs primary weakness. With the ball nestled at the Chiefs five-yard line, Tomlinson scored his second touchdown of the game tying the score at 14-14 with 3:10 left in the first half.
Still the offense knowing they'd have to keep scoring went back to work. Green had a hot hand connecting on all but one of his pass attempts in the drive but that miss went to Tony Gonzalez who caught the ball out of bounds in the end zone. That meant Lawrence Tynes came on the field and drilled a 28-yard field goal giving the Chiefs a 17-14 lead at halftime.
The Chiefs opened the second half with a bang and a bust. Dante Hall returned the ball 77-yards but he fumbled at the five yard line trying to switch the ball from one hand to another. With the ball on the ground the Chiefs Jimmy Wilkerson missed the ball and the Chargers Jerrell Pippins jumped on the loose ball. That gave San Diego the ball again and Brees went right back to work. He quickly hit Gates for a 27-yard gainer that pushed the Chargers into Chiefs territory. But facing a third and seven, Brees went to the well one too many times as Chiefs cornerback Dexter McCleon perfectly timed a hit on Gates and the ball fell to the ground and the Chiefs offense went back to work.
But they could not get out of there end of the field and after a poor punt by Steve Cheeks, the Chargers started the drive at mid field. On the very first play, they caught the Chiefs napping and run their second reverse of the game to Eric Parker who rambled 38 yards down to the Chiefs 11 yard line. On the play linebacker Scott Fujita made a touchdown saving tackle that gave some life to the defense. The Chargers only gained four yards on two running plays and Brees missed an open Keenan McCardell in the end zone on third down. Kaeding came in and kicked a 25-yard field goal that tied the score at 1717 with 7:25 left in the third quarter.
Kansas City could not get a first down and had to punt the ball back to the Chargers. This time the defense held them to a three and out with 3:46 left to go the Kansas City offense took over. Green went right to work and hit Johnnie Morton for an 18-yard gain. After Johnson ran for a first down, Green found Tony Gonzalez for 23-yard gain that ended the third quarter. The Chiefs started the fourth quarter with the ball on the Chargers 31-yard line.
This time Blaylock took over and after gaining nine yards on first down, he scampered into the end zone after a nifty 22-yard cutback run that gave the Chiefs a 23-17 lead. Tynes missed the extra point when the ball skipped off goal post. That was the second miss of the season for Tynes who continues to struggle taking over for the veteran Morten Andersen who has been perfect with the Vikings in Minnesota this season.
The Chargers took over the ball with less than 13 minutes to go and Brees drove right down the teeth of the Kansas City defense. After connecting on a 23-yard gain to McCardell, Brees hit a wide open Gates for an 18-yard touchdown that the Chiefs challenged. After the challenge failed, the Chargers took a 24-23 lead and this see-saw battle continued.
But after misfiring on the first kick-off of the second half, Dante Hall kicked it into high gear and ran this one back without dropping the ball for a 96-yard return. That was his first of the season and this time Hall didn't look back as he sprinted into the end zone untouched that put the Chiefs in the lead 29-24. Trailing by five the Chiefs went for a two-point conversion and after a penalty on Gonzalez backing the ball up to the seven-yard line, Green hit Eddie Kennison in the back of the end zone giving Kansas City a seven point lead 31-24 with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers appeared to be knocking on the door once again as Brees found Gates for a 53-yard gain that would have given them the ball at the Chiefs 15-yard line. But instead the Chargers were in an illegal shift and San Diego was backed up inside their 25-yard line. But Brees on the next play found wide receiver Kassim Osgood on a 65-yard pass play that gave the Chargers a first and ten from the sixteen. On the next play, Gates made up for penalty nullifying catch as he scored his second touchdown of the game this time from the 9-yard line. On the play he cut in front of two defenders and walked into the end zone tying the score at 31-31.
Once again the defense gave up several big plays and could not take advantage of the Chargers mistakes on offense. With Hall getting into the end zone for the first time this season, the Chargers dribbled the kick-off and the human joystick could only get to the 25-yard line and that was a bad omen for things to come.
The Chiefs offense went back to work but they stalled and Green facing a third and eleven threw his first interception of the game right into the hands of former Chiefs linebacker Donnie Edwards who returned the ball to the Chiefs 32-yard line. On the play Green threw into triple coverage and Edwards made a nice grab as the pass was intended for Morton.
The Chargers got the ball back and could only manage seven yards but Kaeding hit his second field goal in a row from 42-yards out with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter giving San Diego a 34-31 lead. It would be a lead they would not relinquish.
The Chiefs took over at their own 24-yard line but the offense was unable to get a first down as the Chiefs fourth down attempt fell incomplete to Eddie Kennison and that meant Kansas City record their fourth loss in a row in demoralizing fashion to their division rivals from San Diego.
Brees, who the Chiefs should consider signing in the off-season, ended the day by throwing two touchdown passes and hit 28 of 37 passes for 378 yards Green didn't fair as well this week as he only netted 208 yards passing. The problem was the Chiefs only ran the ball 20 times despite averaging nearly five yards per carry.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez led the Chiefs in receiving with another 100 yard performance on eight catches but he was outshined by Gates who scored two times while catching seven passes for 92 yards. If not for the questionable penalty nullifying his long gain, his number would have been even more impressive.
Next week the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Oakland for a 3:15 PM start against the Raiders in what could determine who resides in the AFC West basement but more importantly could be a tie-breaker game for a better draft slot in 2005.