1:00 PM ET, September 30, 2012
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Week 3 was a considerably different story.
The Chiefs look to build off their stunning comeback victory Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chargers are hoping to bounce back from an ugly no-show.
San Diego's early season struggles were supposed to be a thing of the past after two strong victories to open the season. But after a lifeless 27-3 loss to Atlanta, the first-place Chargers (2-1) come to Kansas City with as many question marks as the Chiefs (1-2) had before pulling out a stunning, come-from-behind win to beat New Orleans 27-24 in overtime.
"You never want to play like we did (Sunday), but when you do, you definitely have to learn from it and get to the next game because there's no waiting around and feeling sorry for yourself," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "It's a new week, and we know how important it is to win division games. We're headed into Kansas City, and they're coming off a huge game in New Orleans. So there's no time to overanalyze the previous game or sulk, because we've got to go on the road and win in a new environment.
"Kansas City doesn't care that we lost or how we feel. We have to go in there and win that game."
The Chiefs were outscored 75-41 in losses to Atlanta and Buffalo and fell behind New Orleans 24-6 midway through the third quarter Sunday. But Jamaal Charles ripped off a franchise record-long 91-yard touchdown run on Kansas City's next play, the spark that seemed to get the Chiefs' offense going in the Superdome.
"Games like this can build momentum throughout a season," said receiver Steve Breaston, who may take on an increased role after an injury to Dexter McCluster on Sunday. "Being able to win a game like that brings a team together."
Charles, who had three yards on six carries at Buffalo in Week 2, finished with 233 yards on 33 carries in New Orleans. He had 288 total yards, joining Jim Brown as the only players to have 225 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving in the same game.
"I think what this victory has done for the team is give them some confidence," coach Romeo Crennel said. "Everybody's not telling them how bad they are anymore, and how they can't win. Now, they're hearing, 'Good job.'"
Like last season, when Charles and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry all missed most of the year and quarterback Matt Cassel sat out the final seven games, Kansas City is again suffering from injury issues. Starting center Rodney Hudson broke a bone in his leg on Sunday and was put on injured reserve. Guard Ryan Lilja will slide over and start at center, with rookie Jeff Allen taking Lilja's spot at guard.
"I thought Lilja did an excellent job (against New Orleans), to tell you the truth," Crennel said. "He had shotgun snaps with no quarterback-center exchange problems in there. I thought Allen did a nice job, coming in and playing really for the first sustained time."
San Diego has had a penchant for mediocre starts since Norv Turner took over in 2007 -- the team is 19-20 in September and October and 32-12 in November and beyond -- but it seemed those early issues were a thing of the past after it outscored Oakland and Tennessee by a combined 60-24.
Instead, the Chargers committed four turnovers against the Falcons and were held to their lowest point total in Turner's tenure.
"I'm as upset as anyone in San Diego," Turner said. "I don't like going out and having our team perform the way we performed. It happened; we've got to fix it. We're going to do everything in our power to fix it."
The Chargers had only 24 minutes of possession against the Falcons despite welcoming back Ryan Mathews from an broken collarbone. Rivers had two interceptions and Mathews -- who has a reputation for fumbling -- lost one in his season debut.
"I'm not giving our game plan out in terms of where we're doing it, but there are certain things where we have more chances than others," Turner said of limiting Mathews' exposure until he's fully recovered. "We're looking at each of the times he's lost the football. We've had the teaching reel and all that. When and where they occur would be part of it."
The Chargers also had four turnovers in the most recent matchup between these teams. Kansas City won 23-20 in overtime last Halloween at Arrowhead after Rivers fumbled the snap trying to set up a game-winning field goal attempt with a minute remaining in regulation.
San Diego has won seven of the past nine in the series, but lost the last two in Kansas City.
More from ESPN.com
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The Chiefs will have what is probably the first early morning (Central time) kickoff for their Nov. 1 game against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium in London.
Chargers-Chiefs: What to watch
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 4 Chargers-Chiefs matchup.
• Look for San Diego to air it out: The Chiefs are not a big pressure type of defense, preferring to go with a bend-but-not-break philosophy. They lack great pressure coming off the edge and have just one interception on the year. Through three games, the Chargers are still searching for a downfield passing game. Employing more of a short, controlled passing attack, they are averaging just 7.72 yards per pass and are not getting many yards after the catch. With Brandon Flowers (5-foot-10) being the Chiefs' best cover corner, he will have a major height disadvantage when matched up against the likes of WRs Malcom Floyd (6-5) and Robert Meachem (6-2). Add to that the concern that RB Ryan Mathews is putting the ball on the ground too often and we can expect to see a lot of passes by the Chargers on Sunday.
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Kansas City Chiefs
|Avg Points Allowed||17.8||34.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||SD|
|Rush Yds Allowed||SD|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|San Diego leads 14-10|
|Oct 31, 2011||SD 20, @KC 23|
|Sep 25, 2011||SD 20, KC 17|
|Dec 12, 2010||SD 31, KC 0|
|Sep 13, 2010||SD 14, @KC 21|
|Nov 29, 2009||SD 43, KC 14|
|Oct 25, 2009||SD 37, @KC 7|
|Dec 14, 2008||SD 22, @KC 21|
|Nov 9, 2008||SD 20, KC 19|
|Dec 2, 2007||SD 24, @KC 10|
|Sep 30, 2007||SD 16, KC 30|
|Dec 17, 2006||SD 20, KC 9|
|Oct 22, 2006||SD 27, @KC 30|
|Dec 24, 2005||SD 7, @KC 20|
|Oct 30, 2005||SD 28, KC 20|
|Jan 2, 2005||SD 24, KC 17|
|Nov 28, 2004||SD 34, @KC 31|
|Nov 30, 2003||SD 24, KC 28|
|Sep 7, 2003||SD 14, @KC 27|
|Dec 22, 2002||SD 22, @KC 24|
|Oct 13, 2002||SD 35, KC 34|
|Dec 23, 2001||SD 17, @KC 20|
|Nov 4, 2001||SD 20, KC 25|