The Point After: Chiefs and Chargers

When the Kansas City Chiefs walked in to Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday afternoon they unwittingly stepped in to the middle of an angry hornets nest. The emotional and desperate San Diego Chargers were battling to stay in the race for the AFC West division crown and a loss to the Chiefs would have all but buried their 2005 season. With so much on the line this early in the season the now Chargers were able to rally the troops and beat Kansas City by a score of 28-20.

Throughout the first half the Chargers dominated on both sides of the ball and at one point the game was teetering dangerously close to a blow out. Quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Antonio Gates had a monstrous second quarter and as the first half came to a close the Chargers took the locker room with a 21 to 3 lead.

The Chiefs fought back valiantly in the second half to score 17 points and pull within eight late. Unfortunately by the time they figured out how to attack the Chargers defense it was too late and the game was out of reach.

Against Kansas City's offense the Chargers proved that their 2nd ranked run defense is no fluke or aberration. For the entire game nose tackle Jamal Williams couldn't be budged while defensive ends Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky routinely beat their blockers in embarrassing fashion. Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson had nowhere to go as the Charger defenders invaded the backfield as soon as they took the hand of. With all of Kansas City's running lanes shut down Holmes was held to 38 yards on 14 carries while Johnson had 55 yards on 6 carries. This was the primary reason for the lack of early production by the Chiefs offense as coordinator Al Saunders typically uses the run to set up the pass.

In defense of Saunders not going to the pass early enough in the game the Chiefs weren't having any more success passing the ball than they were running it. Trent Green was running for his life every time he dropped back to pass and out of their 6 failed third down conversions in the first half five of those plays were passes.

On another note concerning the Chiefs offense and the Chargers defense Priest Holmes found out first hand why linebacker Shawne Merriman earned the nick name "Lights Out". In the third quarter Merriman came down field to tackle Holmes on a run off of right tackle and delivered a bone crushing helmet to helmet hit that knocked Priest Holmes out of the game. Merriman was a one man wrecking crew against the Chiefs all day long and it looks as if he will be a great player for the Chargers for years to come (Now Chiefs fans can see why a certain sports writer named Mike Campbell had Merriman rated as the top linebacker in the draft).

When grading out the Chiefs offensive performance this latest loss should rest solely on the shoulders of their once imposing offensive line. Kansas City's nine day separation between games looked more like nine years as the offensive line seemingly aged a decade over night. This is an alarming trend that could also be seen against Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington as Kansas City's offensive line looked slow, weak, and lethargic. If they can't figure out a way correct this fast it won't be long before they fall out of contention.

The offensive performance of the day had to go to the trio of Trent Green, Tony Gonzalez and Eddie Kennison. In the second half those three players put the team on their back and almost pulled out a victory. Green finished the day with 31 of 43 for 347 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez had seven catches for 97 yards and a touchdown while Eddie Kennison also had seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Even though they managed to surrender 28 points the Kansas City defense played a pretty tough game against the powerful Chargers offense. They were particularly impressive in the second half as they kept the game within reach by only allowing seven points.

The scourge of the day for the defense was tight end Antonio Gates who finished the game with 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns. The only teams that have been able to hold Gates in check so far are teams with elite safeties like Troy Polamalu and Brian Dawkins. Needless to say Jerome Woods, Greg Wesley and Sammy Knight were outmatched for most of the day.

In an impressive outing by the Chiefs front seven the ever dangerous LaDainian Tomlinson was held to 69 yards on 17 carries. Tomlinson had a pretty quiet day outside of his 17 yard half back pass to Eric Parker in the second quarter in what was the most disciplined game that the defense has played to date. When watching the defense it was evident that things are finally starting to click for them. Each player understood his role in defending the run and for the most part they all performed their responsibilities as expected.

Jared Allen, Kawika Mitchell, Derrick Johnson and Greg Wesley were the performers on defense for the day. Allen had numerous tipped passes that resulted in incompletions along with a forced fumble. Kawika Mitchell and Derrick Johnson both had some key tackles in the running game along with some nice pass defenses on Antonio Gates. Greg Wesley had an interception and 50yard return on a Drew Brees pass in the 3rd quarter.

When grading the Chiefs defense it is hard to blast them too much. Yes they did give up some pretty big numbers in the passing game but with that being said they are also improving every week. You also have to wonder how much better they might have performed had they not been left on the field so long in the first half.

On the special teams front Dante Hall had a big day returning kicks with a 53 yard kick off return at the end of the 2nd quarter and a 52 yard punt return in the 3rd quarter. Hall came very close to scoring touchdowns on each kick and in both instance he only had one man to beat. Unfortunately, as with Greg Wesley's interception, the Chiefs offense was never able to capitalize on the field position attained through Hall's returns.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories