KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Philip Rivers connected with wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu for a 26-yard touchdown with 24 seconds to play gave the San Diego Chargers a 41-38 upset victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
The winning touchdown came just 58 seconds after the Chiefs had gone ahead on a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Smith to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe with one minute, 22 seconds to play.
San Diego is now 5-6 on the season, while the Chiefs are 9-2 and facing a huge rematch next Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
The Chargers got a 30-yard field goal from Nick Novak and chopped the Chiefs lead to 28-27 on the first drive of the fourth quarter. The Chiefs came back with a 25-yard field goal from Ryan Succop to take a 31-27 lead with 9:32 on the clock.
Rivers hit tight end Ladarius Green for a 60-yard touchdown as the streaking 6-6, 240-pound tight end ran away from the Kansas City secondary, putting the Chargers up 34-31.
A frigid afternoon and tight 14-10 slugfest at halftime turned into a shootout with 55 combined points in the second half. Rivers totaled three touchdown passes and 392 yards and Smith had three touchdown passes and 292 yards.
San Diego got on the board first, with a 30-yard field goal from Novak on a possession highlighted by a 29-yard pass play between quarterback Rivers and wide receiver Keenan Allen. The Chiefs came right back and scored a first-quarter touchdown for the first time in the last four games. The eight-play, 74-yard drive was keyed by Smith, who completed five of six attempts, highlighted by a 32-yard touchdown to wide receiver Donnie Avery down the middle of the field.
A short San Diego punt and a nice return by Dexter McCluster in the second quarter set up the Chiefs at the Chargers 46-yard line. Kansas City was in the end zone three plays later on a 7-yard run up the gut by running back Jamaal Charles. The big play was a 36-yard reception by Avery.
With outside linebackers Tambi Hali (ankle) and Justin Houston (elbow) sidelined -- the starting tandem had 20 of the Chiefs' 36 sacks in Kansas City's first 10 games -- Rivers had plenty of time in the pocket.
Before halftime, Rivers led the Chargers on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, as Allen caught three passes in the possession for 38 yards. The touchdown came on an 11-yard completion from Rivers to running back Danny Woodhead.
San Diego came right back to start the third quarter and ripped off six-play, 72-yard drive, including a 54-yard catch and run by wide receiver Eddie Royal. The touchdown came three plays later when running back Ryan Mathews scored from the 1-yard line to stake San Diego to a 17-14 advantage.
That margin was short-lived, as Smith moved the Chiefs offense on an 85-yard, 7-play drive that was helped along by three pass interference calls against the San Diego defense. Charles wrapped it up with a one-yard scoring run and the Chiefs were back up 21-17.
Following Woodhead's second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run that gave San Diego the lead back at 24-21, the Chiefs moved the scoreboard again, taking a 28-24 advantage with a 4-yard pass to tight end Anthony Fasano in the end zone.
NOTES: Chargers TE Antonio Gates recorded his 700th career reception in the fourth quarter. ... The Chiefs defense was hurt in the first half when the pass-rushing duo of outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston left the game with injuries. ... The Chiefs were without the right side of their line, as both guard Jon Asamoah (shoulder/calf) and tackle Eric Fisher (shoulder) were inactive because of injuries. The Chargers were without starting left tackle King Dunlap (knee). ... San Diego running back Ryan Mathews left the game late in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.