The Kansas City Chiefs stay alive in the AFC West with a 23-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers. Kicker Cairo Santos kicked the game winner with 26 seconds left after Alex Smith brought the Chiefs down the field on a two minute drill. In a game where Jamell Fleming and Phillip Gaines were key players, it's fitting that it came down to the Chiefs kicker, who has taken his licks for his shaky start to the season. But Santos proved to be valuable with three field goals, including the game winner.
The Chiefs dominated the time of possession in this game and it came down to the Chargers getting the ball at their own 10-yard line with 5:49 to go. Plenty of Chiefs fans on Twitter and elsewhere figured this was where the Chargers would drive down the field and score the winning touchdown. The Chargers converted a 3rd and 9 and had the help of the referees with a questionable 22-yard pass interference penalty (Andy Reid was mad about that) but the Chiefs held them to a field goal, which tied the game.
The Chiefs got the ball back on their own 20-yard line. Alex Smith found Dwayne Bowe over the middle for 17 yards. Then Smith found Travis Kelce for 16 yards and then again for eight yards, putting the Chiefs at the 30-yard line. Andy Reid called on Santos for his longest career field goal, 48 yards, which ended up being enough.
The Chargers got the ball back but it wasn't enough time. Kurt Coleman intercepted a Rivers pass to seal it. Final score: 23-20, Chiefs.
Here's what we learned from the game:
Jamaal Charles is the best Chiefs back of all time. Charles took a handoff to the right, cut back inside and ran and dove into the end zone for a touchdown. He collided with Brandon Flowers in the process. That amazing play also passedPriest Holmes to make Charles the Chiefs all-time leading rusher. Watch the play here.
A change at cornerback. Jamell Fleming took the starting spot of Marcus Cooper at cornerback. Cooper has been struggling lately but this was still a surprise because Fleming hadn't had much playing time. He was picked up off theRavens practice squad in the first week of the season. Fleming had his issues early on, notably a pass interference that put the Chargers at the 1-yard line.
DAT can be a weapon. His first punt return last week was for 28 yards and his second punt return on Sunday was for 28 yards. The Chiefs ran a reverse to him on the first play of the game. He converted a 3rd and 15 on a quick bubble screen and a 3rd and 4 with a quick pass. DAT needs to see more and more each game.
The refs suck -- for both teams. I'm not someone who blames things on the refs too often. But there were some bad calls against the Chiefs, notably a late pass interference penalty that netted 22 yards for the Chargers. Of course things evened out and the Chargers had penalties as well, including a key facemask penalty against San Diego with two minutes left in the game. It didn't look like a facemask from the angle I saw. So the refs did indeed suck but they sucked for both teams.
Drops nearly killed the Chiefs. On a 3rd and 6 late in the first half, Smith had a wide open Junior Hemingway on a slant. Hemingway had tons of space in front of him with one man to beat ... except Hemingway dropped it. At worst the Chiefs end up kicking a field goal there if he catches that. At best it's a touchdown. The Chiefs were forced to punt and the Chargers got the ball back only to go back down and score a touchdown with 14 seconds left in the first half. That was a 10-point swing right there. Later, Dwayne Bowe had a catchable ball fall to the ground -- and of course it was on third down. Tough breaks.
Things I saw during the game
The Chiefs clearly thought this was going to be a run. Philip Rivers threw it for a touchdown.
Dwayne Bowe had a 26-yard catch and run. He made a great cut right as he caught it to add a lot of YAC.
Justin Houston showed his strength and went through his man for his seventh sack of the season.
Brandon Flowers went through the concussion protocol but came back into the game. He collided with Charles on this touchdown run:
This Chargers Reggie Walker will (likely) be fined for this spear in Alex Smith's back after the ball was out. It was a roughing the passer penalty (on 3rd and 11 no less).
Antonio Gates has more TDs against the Chiefs (15) than any other team. This is his latest one:
What a catch from Antonio Gates https://t.co/UcuSEpyHbs— Carrington Harrison (@cdotharrison) October 19, 2014
The Chiefs had a Travis Kelce first down catch taken away with a mysterious pass interference call on Anthony Fasano. Even CBS announcer Solomon Wilcots had no idea where the penalty was.
AJ Jenkins had a monster catch on 3rd and long. It was a bubble screen he broke out wide for 19 yards. He was on his way to the end zone with no one in front of him but stepped out after 19 yards.
Albert Wilson had his first career catch in this game.
Big call that went in favor of the Chiefs: On the last play of the third quarter as the Chiefs drove inside the 20-yard line, Smith was sacked on 3rd and 5. BUT there was a defensive holding call that kept the drive alive.
Anthony Sherman did his best Jamaal Charles impression and caught a fullback screen, made a defender whiff and ran 11 yards into the end zone to give the Chiefs the lead.
The Chiefs two biggest defensive stops midway through the fourth quarter were pass breakups from Jamell Fleming and Phillip Gaines. Nothing like the young guys stepping up, huh?
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