1:00 PM ET, November 24, 2013
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
The once-embattled quarterback stoically marched San Diego downfield against Kansas City on Sunday, and then found his unheralded wide receiver with a 26-yard scoring strike with 24 seconds remaining that gave San Diego a 41-38 victory and ended its three-game losing streak.
More Chargers-Chiefs coverage
Led by another efficient performance by Philip Rivers, the Chargers moved the ball with ease against the top-ranked defense in the NFL and beat the Chiefs to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, writes Eric D. Williams. Story
It's far too convenient to say the Chiefs played their worst defensive game against the Chargers because they played most of it without Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. To claim that would be to ignore reality, writes Adam Teicher. Story
"It's one of those you'll never forget, that's for sure," said Rivers, who threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns against a Kansas City defense that had been among the NFL's best.
"It's kind of what our season's been about," Rivers said. "Can you drive and score at the end?"
It turned out there'd be more lead change in a game that had eight of them.
"Philip said, `Fly on the boundary," Ajirotutu said, "so I knew that's a little code word that he usually says that the ball's coming to you."
Smith wound up throwing for 292 yards and three touchdowns for the Chiefs, who lost their second straight after a 9-0 start. They also lost top pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to injuries, and now face the prospect of playing the Broncos next week without them.
Hali has a sprained right ankle and Houston a sprained left elbow, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that both of them are due for MRI exams on Monday.
"I'm not making excuses," Reid said. "The next guy has to come in and we expect them to step up and make plays. There's no excuses."
San Diego (5-6) finished with 491 yards of offense against a Chiefs defense that had allowed more than 17 points just once: last week's 27-17 defeat in Denver.
A Different Look
The Chargers lit up the Chiefs' defense in Kansas City, scoring 41 points on Sunday. Entering the game, the Chiefs had allowed just 63 points total in five home games this season.
Chiefs Defense At Home
|1st 5 Games||Sunday|
|*- 0 takeaways at home for 1st time this year|
--ESPN Stats & Information
Danny Woodhead had touchdowns rushing and receiving as he picked up the slack for Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, who left with a hamstring injury. Ladarius Green had a 60-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, while Keenan Allen had nine catches for 124 yards.
Of course, it was Rivers who made the entire offense sing.
"I'll tell you right now, we've got a great quarterback," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "There was no doubt in my mind at the end of the game he was going out and scoring."
"I mean, you'd like to take positives away form games," Smith said, "but right now it wasn't enough. We didn't do enough as a team to come out on top."
The game turned into a back-and-forth nail-biter in the second half.
San Diego pulled ahead 17-14 when a 54-yard pass to Eddie Royal set up a 1-yard TD run by Mathews. But the Chargers helped the Chiefs take the lead right back with three pass interference penalties that gave them the ball at the San Diego 1. Charles' second touchdown made it 21-17.
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The Chargers' struggling defensive backfield got one back on the Chiefs' next series. Shareece Wright, who had one of those pass interference penalties, batted a pass to Marcus Gilchrist, who had one of the others. The interception set up Woodhead's 3-yard touchdown run.
Kansas City retook the lead at 28-24 on Smith's short pass to Anthony Fasano, but after the teams traded chip-shot field goals, the Chargers took it right back.
Rivers hit Green on a quick slant, and the tight end ran 60 yards for his first career touchdown. It gave the Chargers a 34-31 lead with 7:50 left.
The Chiefs answered the call, only for the Chargers to trump them in the end.
"That's what the game's all about," McCoy said. "When the game's on the line, who's going to come up and make the big play? Who's going to make the big stop?"
The Chargers have won 10 of their last 12 against Kansas City. ... The Chargers' Antonio Gates had three catches for 21 yards, making him the fourth TE in NFL history with 700 catches and 9,000 yards. ... Smith dropped to 0-3 against San Diego as a starting QB. ... Wright left briefly with an undisclosed injury but returned to the game. .. The Chiefs played without starting RG Jon Asamoah (calf, shoulder) and RT Eric Fisher (shoulder).
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 24: running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball as inside...(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||7.3||6.7|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-5||4-5|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||6:15||Nick Novak 30 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 43 yds, 3:18
|TD||1:43||Donnie Avery 32 Yard Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 74 yds, 4:34
|TD||3:08||Jamaal Charles 7 Yard Run (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 46 yds, 1:26
|TD||0:22||Danny Woodhead 11 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 2:47
|TD||12:20||Ryan Mathews 1 Yard Run (Nick Novak Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 72 yds, 2:43
|TD||9:04||Jamaal Charles 1 Yard Run (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 85 yds, 3:17
|TD||5:31||Danny Woodhead 3 Yard Run (Nick Novak Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 16 yds, 0:42
|TD||2:17||Anthony Fasano 4 Yard Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 64 yds, 3:15
|FG||12:34||Nick Novak 30 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 10 plays, 59 yds, 4:41
|FG||9:35||Ryan Succop 25 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 6 plays, 57 yds, 2:59
|TD||8:00||Ladarius Green 60 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 68 yds, 1:42
|TD||1:28||Dwayne Bowe 5 Yard Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 55 yds, 2:29
|TD||0:31||Seyi Ajirotutu 26 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 78 yds, 0:58
The Chargers lit up the Chiefs defense in Kansas City, scoring 41 points on Sunday. Entering the game, the Chiefs had allowed 63 points TOTAL in 5 home games this season.[+]
Chiefs Defense at Home This Season
Philip Rivers completed 11-of-13 passes for 199 yards (15.3 yards/att) on third downs, including a crucial 12-yard completion to Antonio Gates on 3rd-and-10 that moved the chains on the game-winning drive. Rivers had completed just 42.3% of passes on third down during the Chargers' three-game losing streak.
The Chargers gained 228 yards after the catch on Sunday, their highest in a game this season and the first time Kansas City allowed more than 190. The Chiefs entered Sunday as one of four teams to allow at least 6.0 yards after catch per reception. Ladarius Green gained 45 yards after the catch on his 60-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Kansas City's defense has allowed at least 45 yards of YAC on three plays this year- only the Rams (four) have more. The Chargers recorded at least 10 yards after the catch on 10 different receptions, joining the Packers (Week 2 vs Redskins) and Steelers (Week 9 vs Patriots) as the only teams to do that this year.
Alex Smith is 3-for-3 for 85 yards and a TD on throws at least 15 yards downfield in the first half... Smith averaged 2.2 completions per game on those throws this season.
ESPN Stats & Information
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