KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—There was Marty Schottenheimer’s familiar figure walking the sidelines and shouting out orders.
There were the Kansas City Chiefs, making key plays at crucial times and finally coming out ahead of an AFC West opponent in a “must-win” game.
It was just like old times at Arrowhead Stadium, except for one thing— Schottenheimer was coaching San Diego, not Kansas City.
In a 10-year stint with the Chiefs, Schottenheimer won 101 games.
But Sunday, unable to contain a swarm of second-teamers and last-chancers who came through for the crippled-up home team, Schottenheimer’s Chargers (8-7) fell 24-22 on his first return in a regular-season game.
“It was not as emotional as I expected it to be,” Schottenheimer said. “I have a continuing appreciation for the great fan base that this organization has. I’ve felt that from a personal standpoint that I was well received, and I appreciate that.”
The Chiefs (8-7) went into the game terribly undermanned. Replacing kicker Morten Andersen was Michael Husted, who had spent the past 1 1/2 years kicking imaginary field goals on a soccer field in California. Fourth-year backup Mike Cloud replaced NFL rushing leader Priest Holmes, who has a hip injury. Starting wide receiver Johnnie Morton, out with a knee injury, was replaced with Marc Boerigter, an NFL rookie who spent the previous two years in the Canadian Football League. And rookie Omar Easy filled in for fullback Tony Richardson, who has a shoulder injury.
Every one of the replacements made key contributions.
“Mike put his head down and got the necessary yardage,” defensive end Eric Hicks said. “Omar caught a big pass. Mike Husted was signed to back up our Hall of Fame kicker, and he sure did it.
“That’s the American dream. It’s part of the NFL dream—guys who come in from nowhere and step up and play big.”
Boerigter caught two of Trent Green’s three touchdown passes, an 8-yarder and a 99-yarder that tied the NFL record. Easy had a 6-yard TD pass and a key 11-yard reception on the final drive that handed Husted just the opportunity he’d been yearning for since Washington cut him in 2000.
With a little over a minute to play, he trotted onto the field to try a 38-yarder. Make it and all his hard work is justified. Miss it and Schottenheimer tastes victory one more time at Arrowhead Stadium.
He swung his foot and sent the ball goalward. There was never a doubt.
“I told myself, `Hey, just be ready to go out there,”’ he said. “Be relaxed. Be smooth and do the same thing you’ve been doing the last year and a half since you decided to rededicate yourself to this career. And give it all you’ve got.”
Boerigter, ironically, was not even the primary receiver on his 99-yard touchdown pass from Trent Green.
“It’s just a play where I’m getting up field to occupy the safety and get across his face, clear it out for Tony (Gonzalez) crossing the middle,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. Trent stepped up and just threw it out there.”
He caught the ball on the Kansas City 40 and easily outran safety Rogers Beckett.
“It was a great throw and I knew there was only one guy to beat,” Boerigter said.
“It’s been a long journey so far this year,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given…”
The Chargers finished with 383 yards, including LaDainian Tomlinson’s 131 yards rushing on 24 carries.
The crowd’s warmest reception for a former Chief went to linebacker Donnie Edwards, who the Chiefs decided not to re-sign after last season and is having a fine year in San Diego
“It was nice,” Edwards said. “I would not expect anything less from Kansas City fans. It was really nice for me to come back and get a warmwelcome. I love the fans of Kansas City.”
LB Junior Seau tied Russ Washington’s team record with his 200th game for the Chargers. … Chiefs safety Greg Wesley injured his hamstring on the 3-yard touchdown pass to McCrary and did not return. … It was the 100th consecutive sellout at Arrowhead Stadium, dating to the opener in 1990. … With 466 points, the Chiefs broke their team record of 442 set in 1965. … Tomlinson’s 131 yards rushing boosted his season total to 1,616. His seventh100-yard game tied Don Wood’s 28-year-old team record.