They got the answer they wanted Sunday when they climbed off the deck, wiped the blood from their collective noses and put together a gut-check 30-27 home victory over San Diego, one of the NFL's top teams. The victory evened Kansas City's record at 3-3 and renewed hope that the Chiefs will be competitive again in Sunday's home game with defending NFC champion Seattle, after which they face road games in St. Louis and Miami.
"When you get waxed like we did (in Pittsburgh), you can go in two directions. You either step up and show you have the heart to play in this league, or you go in the tank," said defensive end Jared Allen, who had a hand in the two first-quarter turnovers that put the Chargers in a quick 14-0 hole.
"I think we showed even more character in the second half when they started scratching back into it," Allen added of the Chargers' rally from a 20-3 second-quarter deficit. "It came down to a tied game with two minutes left. They had the ball and the momentum, and we took it away. We get the ball back to our offense and they get the field goal."
"I really don't think you can count this team out."
It's equally hard to count them completely in, either.
Kansas City appeared to be in command after forcing turnovers on three of the Chargers' first four possessions and converting two short-field drives into a 14-0 lead.
It hardly seemed to matter that Lawrence Tynes missed a point-after kick following the Larry Johnson touchdown that put Kansas City up 20-3.
But San Diego responded. On a string of seven possessions from the second through fourth quarters, the Chargers scored three touchdowns and two field goals with one missed goal to tie the game at 27-all with
The gut-check for the Chiefs began when the Chargers got the ball one last time at their own 21 with 1:48 remaining. But the Chiefs held at the Chargers 48 and got the ball back at their 18 with 33 seconds and two timeouts left.
Larry Johnson converted a short pass into a 15-yard pickup -- the last of his 167 yards from scrimmage -- and backup quarterback Damon Huard hit Tony Gonzalez for 19 and 18 yards to the Chargers' 30. The Chiefs stopped the clock with 11 seconds left, and Tynes came on for a shot at redemption.
Tynes already had missed a 42-yard field goal in addition to the PAT.
"I let my team down in the first half, left four points out there,"
Tynes lamented. "Kudos to the offense for giving me that last chance."
He actually hit the game-winner twice. His first kick from 48 yards was nullified by a false start penalty. Moved back to 53, Tynes hit the longest field goal of his career, and the Chiefs had their biggest victory of the year.
"There's confidence and there's momentum, and we didn't have any momentum after (the Pittsburgh loss)," said coach Herm Edwards.
"Hopefully, this will build our confidence back up."
--TE Tony Gonzalez, who caught 6 passes for 138 yards, had his biggest game since the 2004 season-ender against San Diego when the Chiefs threw to him 14 times (for 144 yards) in an attempt to help him set the single-season receptions record for a tight end. Gonzalez' 57-yard catch in the drive for KC's third TD was his longest play since 2003.
--RB Larry Johnson, held to just 62 yards rushing in his previous two games, broke out against San Diego with 132 yards rushing (on 28 carries) with another 29 on two receptions. San Diego has allowed just four 100-yard games since the start of the 2004 season, and Johnson has two of them. He had a 131-yard game against the Chargers last December.
--QB Damon Huard ran his record as a starter to 8-3 and posted his third 100-point passer rating game in five starts this year. He hit 15 of 27 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers.
--QB Trent Green has been cleared to return to practice this week for the first time since sustaining a severe concussion in the season opener. Green had hoped to be ready to play in St. Louis, his home town, on Oct. 29, but now doubts that he'll be cleared for full contact work in time for that game.
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