Chargers run into ‘Chiefs’ stumbling block

Three interceptions on their first four game possessions hand Kansas City Chiefs a divison road win against rival Chargers

Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes in a 24-10 defeat of the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. File Photo/Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

CARSON, CA-The end goal for the Los Angeles Chargers is to get a win under their belt. Three weeks into the 2017 NFL season, the Chargers are still searching for that victory. Distractions aside, there was still a football game to be played at StubHub Center on Sunday afternoon. Judging by their play in the first half of the game, the Chargers waited a little late to show up.

“We have to click,” Chargers running back Melvin Gordon said. “We have to click offensively, defensively and on special teams. I feel like in this point in time it’s either the defense is on and the offense is off, the offense is on and the defense is off, or the offense and defense is on but the special teams is off. All three phases [are] just not on the same page and we have to find a way to figure that out.”

By the time they had a chance to catch their collective breaths as a team, the Kansas City Chiefs had already done the damage they needed to do, picking off Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers three times in four possessions. Those errors led directly to the Chiefs scoring 17 points in Kansas City’s 24-10 road win.

That would be all the points Kansas City would need to get a big win on the road against their AFC West Division rivals.

Quarterback Philip Rivers threw three interceptions in the Chargers’24-10 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. File Photo/Credit: Kevin Reece

“It’s very important,” Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones said. “It’s the division. We want to start winning though in the division. These are the most important games, the division games. That is the most important thing right now.”

Before they met up on Sunday, the Chiefs posted a lock on the Chargers, winning the last six times the teams had met. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn had nothing to do with those previous interactions. His focus was getting a ‘W’ for his ballclub after an 0-2 start. Woes in the kicking game in two close contests against the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins undercut potential victories in those games.

The three early turnovers cost the Chargers this time. The Chargers outgained the Chiefs in first downs (24-16) and total net yards (330-311), yet fell short in finishing drives. Bogging down the Chargers offense even more was a 38 percentage in third down efficiency (5-13).

The numbers for the Chargers now against the Chiefs stand at zip wins in seven consecutive meetings and an 0-3 start.

“Well, it’s tough to spot a good football team like that 14 points early,” Lynn said. “In the first half, I thought the guys played extremely hard. Defense did an outstanding job on keeping them out of the end zone in the second half, except for that last play. Offensively, we didn’t have it. We didn’t move the ball like we needed to in the second half and that was disappointing. They fought hard. They finished the game. It just wasn’t good enough. It just wasn’t good enough in all three phases. You might say we’re the same old Chargers, but right now we are. Until we prove it differently, we are.”

Things didn’t start off too well for Lynn and the Chargers. The first half almost became a wash with quarterback Philip Rivers throwing three interceptions, which accounted for all 17 of the Chiefs’ points before halftime. Rivers first pick went into the hands of Chiefs’ cornerback Terrance Mitchell as he tried to connect with Travis Benjamin on a deep throw.

That interception led directly to the Chiefs’ first score with Alex Smith and Tyreek Hill coming together for a 30-yard touchdown pass. No worries, right? Wrong. On the Chargers second drive of the game, Rivers, trying to force a throw into tight double-coverage, was picked off again, this time by Marcus Peters.

That miscue immediately played in the Chief’s favor with Smith making his second touchdown throw of the game when he hit Albert Wilson with a shuffle pass of six yards. Rivers appeared to have gotten the kinks out of him on the Chargers third series, driving Los Angeles down the field to a score, thanks to Melvin Gordon’s 11-yard touchdown run.

Things started to look like they were stabilizing for the Chargers after Gordon’s score. A defensive stop, and Rivers and the Chargers were right back in business. At least for the moment. Peters picked off Rivers again on the Chargers’ fourth series of the half, leading to a field goal for the Chiefs. Kansas City finished off their road upset with a 69-yard touchdown run from Kareem Hunt late in the fourth quarter.

“I was supposed to run outside, but I saw the guys overplaying it,” Hunt said. “I just shot back inside. The offensive line did a really good job of shielding guys off and I was able to make one guy miss and I just went.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1133 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.

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