NFL Wire News

Chargers-Chiefs: What we learned


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There was no more fourth-quarter magic on Sunday for the San Diego Chargers, as their chance to make the playoffs ended at Arrowhead Stadium with a 19-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Led by quarterback Philip Rivers, the Chargers were able to overcome a 21-point deficit last weekend and beat San Francisco in overtime. On Sunday, they fell 10 points behind the Chiefs in the second quarter and were unable to generate enough points for a winning comeback.

“Last week we were as fired up as you can imagine,” said Rivers of the victory over the 49ers. “We come to Arrowhead and we win, we are in. It’s tough. It’s a humbling game. It can build you up and put your right back down.”

Both teams finished the 2014 season with 9-7 records. Kansas City had an outside chance to make the playoffs with a win as well as a Cleveland victory over Baltimore and a winning effort by Jacksonville against Houston. But the Ravens made the AFC field with their 20-10 victory over the Browns. The Texans also won, topping the Jaguars 23-17.

“It’s very disappointing; that’s what you base your season off of, making the playoffs,” said Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston. “You play this game to win a championship. We fell short. It hurts.”

The Chiefs did not light up the scoreboard behind backup quarterback Chase Daniel as numerous chances in the scoring zone ended up as four field goals for Kansas City. Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith was sidelined with a lacerated spleen.

The Chiefs got a strong effort from their defense, forcing three turnovers by Rivers and sacking him seven times. Houston had four of those sacks, giving him 22 for the season as he became the 10th pass rusher in NFL history to register 20 or more sacks. It also allowed him to break a Chiefs franchise record for sacks in a season, topping the 20 of Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas from 1990.

“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” said Houston. “It will mean a lot one day, but today I’m more disappointed that we are going home this week than playing another game. This was a good team. I feel like every game we lost, we gave it away.”

What the Chargers said:

“That’s the most disappointing thing; for everything that was at stake and for us to play the way we did … we got behind early on, we got some rhythm going but we couldn’t get going. We couldn’t make that one play to turn the momentum. I’m very disappointed.” Head coach Mike McCoy.

What the Chiefs said:

“When you go out and look at the entire season, we were 7-3 at one point and sort of got in a little slide on the backend of the season. It’s very disappointing. But at the same time you end the season on a high note with a victory. You have a winning season; you’re not 8-8. You build momentum going into next year.” Quarterback Chase Daniel.

What we learned about the Chargers:

1. It is hard to have success as an NFL team when it seems like most of your team is in the training room or on injured reserve. Winning is hard enough in the NFL without having to start five different players at center; Trevor Robinson was No. 5 as he got the start against the Chiefs. Next to him at right guard was rookie Jeremiah Sirles making his first NFL start. It’s easy to understand how Philip Rivers was sacked seven times.

2. The Chargers need to build a stronger running game than what they put on the field in 2014. Yes, there were a host of injuries like losing Danny Woodhead early in the season and continued injury problems for Ryan Mathews. It’s tough to win when an offense averages only 85.4 rushing yards per game. Philip Rivers needs more help than that.

What we learned about the Chiefs:

1. The 2014 Chiefs were a good team; not a great team, but a good squad that hurt itself with a pair of hard to explain losses. They dropped the season opener to Tennessee 26-10, and the Titans went on to win just once more. In game No. 11 they had a fourth-quarter lead against the Raiders in Oakland, but allowed the home team to come back and grab a 24-20 victory. Oakland won just three games all season.

2. They face a real handful with Justin Houston. The fourth-year outside linebacker will become a free agent in the spring and his 2014 season has set him up for a very big payday. The chances of the Chiefs and Houston getting together on a deal before free agency seems quite remote, so they will likely apply the franchise tag to him, tying Houston up for the 2015 season.

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