Coach Dick Vermeil downplayed a report on the Fox pre-game show that suggested his team was splitting apart internally, as evidenced by a couple of fights during a practice prior to the Monday night loss to New England.
Vermeil confirmed that a couple of skirmishes took place because some young Chiefs cornerbacks, Benny Sapp and Julian Battle, were doing scout-team simulations of the aggressive hands-on play of New England's corners. Veterans Eddie Kennison and Dante Hall took exception and some brief fights broke out.
"That stuff happens all the time," Vermeil said. "It was over before the end of practice."
Guard Will Shields started his 186th consecutive game Sunday, beating Jan Stenerud's team record in the process. Tackle Jim Tyrer held the record (180 starts) among position players.
Second-year running back Larry Johnson had the best day of his short NFL career when he rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries with a second-quarter 6-yard touchdown run. Johnson ran six times for 39 yards on a third-series drive in which the Chiefs moved 94 yards for a touchdown.
Vermeil said the Chiefs decided earlier in the week to give Johnson a series in the second quarter.
"If you don't have a defined time, then you don't get him in," Vermeil said. "You can't find a good enough reason in a tight game to watch someone who you haven't seen play much. I just made up my mind that Larry Johnson would play on the third series."
Added Johnson: "This at least shows people that I can do a little bit with the limited time I've had in the league."
At 3-8 with five games remaining, the Chiefs are guaranteed a non-winning season for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The exception was last year's 13-3 in which they started 9-0.
KR Dante Hall, after his 96-yard kickoff return TD against San Diego, now has 12 regular-season touchdowns which have come from an average distance of 81.6 yards -- the longest average scoring distance in NFL history among players with at least 10 scores.
RT Chris Bober, a center and occasional right tackle for the Giants before signing with the Chiefs as a free agent this year, made his first start against San Diego after the Chiefs placed 10-game starter John Welbourn on injured reserve with a knee injury. Bober is not as physical as Welbourn, but moves a little better and did a nice job in clearing the road for a couple of Derrick Blaylock runs.
SS Willie Pile didn't learn until he was coming off the field after the opening kickoff that he would be playing for strong safety Greg Wesley, who began experiencing hamstring soreness during the pre-game. Pile drew the day's toughest assignment -- principle duty on San Diego tight end Antonio Gates, who began the day as the AFC co-leader in receptions and expanded his TD count to 11 with a pair of fourth-quarter grabs against the Chiefs.
FS Shaunard Harts struggled in deep coverage against San Diego in his first start this year for injured Jerome Woods. It didn't help either that his backfield mate, Willie Pile, was making the first start of his short NFL career for injured strong safety Greg Wesley.
RB Derrick Blaylock, making a third straight start for the injured Priest Holmes, averaged a fine 7.1-yards on his mere eight carries while adding a pair of touchdowns in the San Diego loss.
TE Tony Gonzalez had his fourth 100-yard day of the season against San Diego (8-105), but he was held out of the end zone while his new rival, Antonio Gates, scored twice.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Man, it's like we've got bad karma or something. No one in here can explain what's happening to this team. Maybe we should have visited a voodoo doctor in New Orleans last week." --Defensive tackle Lional Dalton.