Chargers Reserves Manhandle Chiefs 24-17

Heading into the game against the San Diego Chargers with a four game winning streak the Chiefs had hoped to end the season on high note. You would have thought that with the Chargers keeping their top four offensive playmakers on the sidelines and facing a 42-year old quarterback and a rookie quarterback, Kansas City would have an advantage. But that was not the case as the Chargers manhandled the Chiefs 24-17.

On a day when Chiefs Tight End Tony Gonzalez set an NFL record with 102 receptions in a single season, Chiefs quarterback Trent Green threw four interceptions. For the Chargers they used the combination of journeyman Doug Flutie and rookie Phillip Rivers, each threw a touchdown and San Diego's second and third units beat the best the Chiefs had on the field.

It's clear that's not good enough and this was probably the lowest point of the season. The game didn't start out well for the Chiefs who after trailing 3-0 were in a position to score their first touchdown of the afternoon. But Green threw his first of four interceptions inside the red zone.

The defense was able to hold the Chargers and Lawrence Tynes came back on the next drive and nailed a 50-yard field goal tying the score at 3-3. But the Chiefs would not score again until the fourth quarter.

Doug Flutie used his legs and arms to run down the throats of the Chiefs defense. He was able to avoid the Chiefs weak rush and used his arm to attack cornerback Dexter McCleon who was schooled by rookie Malcolm Floyd. But after driving the Chargers 92 yards, Flutie ran in from a yard out to give the Chargers a 10-3 lead.

After another interception from Green, the Chargers and Flutie went back to work. This time Flutie hit third string running back Ryan Krause from 10-yards out that gave them a 17-3 lead with less than .30 seconds left in the first half. The Chiefs nearly scored a touchdown on the last play of the half. Green executed a perfect screen pass to Larry Johnson who took the ball at the 40-yard line and ran the ball down to the 1-yard line. That ended the half.

In the second half, the offense continued to struggle in the red zone. Facing a fourth down and two, Green tried to thread the needle and find Gonzalez in the back of the end zone but the Chargers had it well defended and the ball fell off the hands of Gonzalez as he was being pushed out of bounds.

The Chiefs could not get anything going and after Green's third interception of the game in the fourth quarter, rookie quarterback Phillip Rivers engineered a short 40-yard drive to perfection. After three straight running plays, Rivers found a wide open Floyd for his first professional touchdown of his career from 14-yards out. That gave the Chargers a 24-3 lead.

The Chiefs made a run late in the game. Green finally found his groove and after consecutive passes to Gonzalez and Kennison, Johnson scored from 2-yards out cutting the score to 24-10 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

On the ensuing kick-off, Kansas City recovered a perfectly executed on-sides kick and the offense was back in business. Green once again found the usual suspects in getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers, Gonzalez, Kennison and Johnson. But after two incomplete passes, the Chiefs were facing their second fourth and two situation of the game. This time Green rolled out of the pocket under a heavy rush when he spotted Johnson open at the 10-yard line. Johnson spun away from his defender and sprinted at full speed in the end zone. That was Johnson's tenth score of the season and it put the Chiefs within a touchdown of catching the Chargers.

On the day Johnson ran for only 46 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown but he caught eight balls for 115 yards and he's proved that he belongs on this team and should have an increased role next season.

The Chiefs tried another on-sides kick but this time the Chargers held onto the ball and after the defense stopped them four and out, Kansas City's offense could not tie the game. Green threw his fourth interception trying to hit Dante Hall when he had Samie Parker open. The two were running the same pattern and Green who threw the ball 53 times; simply ran out of time.

For the Chargers they'll face the New York Jets next Saturday night in the first round of the playoffs. Kansas City will go back to the drawing board as preparation for the 2005 season begins Monday.


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