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Chargers start fast and beat Chiefs 31-13

Posted Nov 1, 2012

Turnovers plague Chiefs again

SAN DIEGO – The lights were a little brighter playing in front of a national television audience on Thursday Night at Qualcomm Stadium, but the storyline of the season largely remained the same for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs were unable to overcome many of the same mistakes that have plagued them in recent weeks, dropping their fifth straight game with a 31-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

The Chiefs kept it close until early in the fourth quarter. A defense playing without starting cornerback Stanford Routt had bent but not broken against Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. Eric Berry intercepted Rivers in the end zone, saving a touchdown. Matt Cassel had been clutch on third downs, extending drives that would have otherwise stalled.

Still, it wasn’t enough for the Chiefs, who promptly surrendered 21 points during the fourth quarter of what had been a close game.

When Rivers connected with Malcom Floyd for his second passing touchdown of the night midway through the fourth quarter to put the Chargers up 17-6, it could have been considered the dagger for the Chiefs. When Cassel was sacked in the end zone and then fumbled on the next possession to set up a chip-shot field goal by Nick Novak, it felt over. When Chargers linebacker Demarrio Williams returned a Cassel interception 59 yards for a touchdown on the next series, it largely was.

The Chiefs, who entered the game with a -18 turnover differential, were indeed hurt by the four turnovers against the Chargers. But several other mistakes played a factor. And when the Chiefs did have opportunities, they simply could not take advantage.

Trailing 10-3 to start the second half, the Chiefs stalled and punted on their first possession. Chargers safety Eric Weddle muffed the catch, which was recovered by Jalil Brown. But next came two incompletions to Bowe and a short run by Charles, before a 39-yard field goal attempt by Succop bounced off the left upright.

The story was no different during the first half. Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, the Chiefs first turnover – a fumble by Dwayne Bowe – erased a scoring opportunity and killed an impressive drive that had taken more than eight minutes off of the clock. Starting at their own 13-yard line, the Chiefs converted all four of their third downs on the 16-play drive, the first three on critical completions by Cassel. But on third-and-15 from the Chargers’ 33-yard line, San Diego linebacker Demorrio Williams stripped the ball from Bowe has he was falling to the turf after a 10-yard completion.

The turnover led to a long drive capped by a field goal from Novak to give the Chargers a 10-0 lead.

The Chiefs converted two more third downs on the ensuing possession to reach the Chargers’ 31 yardline. But when Peyton Hillis was stopped for no gain on a critical third-and-1, it set up a 49-yard field goal from Ryan Succop to cut the lead to 10-3.

The Chiefs’ running game was noticeably absent for a second straight week, as the Chargers negated Jamaal Charles and the league’s third-rated rushing offense. The Chiefs, who entered the game averaging 155.1 yards per game, were held to 113 yards on 30 attempts. Charles, a week after gaining 10 total yards on eight touches, could only muster 12 rushes for 39 yards and three receptions for 27 yards against the Chargers.

Charles left the game late during the fourth quarter with a neck injury, and did not return for the team’s final series.

Cassel scrambled six times for 37 yards, and Dexter McCluster rushed for 17 yards out of the Wildcat formation. Hillis finished with seven carries for 14 yards.

The Chargers opened the scoring on the first possession of the game, capping a seven-play, 84-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Antonio Gates. Rivers completed all four of his attempts on the drive and the last found Gates, who beat Eric Berry in man-to-man coverage, in the front corner of the end zone.

San Diego had an opportunity to score late in the second quarter, but Rivers was intercepted by Berry in the end zone on a pass intended for tight end Dante Rosario. It was Berry’s first interception of the season.

The Chiefs added a late touchdown when Shaun Draughn scored on a 6-yard run.

Notes: Chiefs starting left guard Jeff Allen was ruled out of the game during the second quarter with what was announced as a head injury. He was replaced by Russ Hochstein. … Chiefs defensive end Glenn Dorsey was announced as questionable to return early during the third quarter with a calf injury. Dorsey had missed the last four games, also with a calf injury. … The Chiefs ran four plays from the Wildcat formation, with McCluster taking the direct snaps and gaining 17 yards on four carries.

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