KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu caught a 26-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left gave the San Diego Chargers a 41-38 upset victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, quarterback Philip Rivers lost his mind.
"There are not many things that will have me completely spaz out," Rivers said after throwing three touchdown passes including that game-winner for the Chargers. "You just sort of lose it for a few seconds. It's not anything planned; it's awesome to win that kind of game."
The victory pushed San Diego (5-6) into the clogged playoff picture for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Rivers said it could be what the Chargers needed to make something of the last month of the NFL regular season.
"We have a lot of football to play, but a game like this can be a turning point in a season," Rivers said. "Every part of our team contributed. We've been in games like this all season, and to win one really pumps a team up."
The Chiefs lost a second consecutive game, and they are 9-2 with the Denver Broncos coming to Arrowhead Stadium this week. Kansas City lost its top pass rushers, outside linebackers Tamba Hali (ankle) and Justin Houston (elbow) to injuries in the first half.
"There's a whole lot of things we can learn from and that's what we're going to do," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. "We'll work on getting ourselves better from this."
San Diego's 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.
"You knew there was a chance for sure," Smith said of the situation after the touchdown pass to Bowe. "Nothing is guaranteed, but you sure do put the pressure back on them."
The Chargers began their next drive at the 22-yard line with 1:17 to play and two timeouts. Rivers methodically moved them down the field, hitting tight end Antonio Gates for 12 yards on a third-and-10 play. Running back Danny Woodhead caught two passes for 33 yards and a pass interference call against Kansas City strong safety Eric Berry provided another 12 yards.
"I reminded him as he left the huddle that if we got Cover 2, he should take off down the boundary," Rivers said. "That's just what happened and he made a great catch."
The Chiefs allowed 491 yards, atypical of their defensive performance this season. Without Hali and Houston, who combined for 20 of the Chiefs' 36 sacks in the first 10 games, they looked like a different group. Hali left the locker room on crutches and was unable to put weight on his right leg.
"No excuses," said Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers. "San Diego came out and played, they executed. They moved the ball at will. We have to go back to the drawing board and tighten up what we do."
What the Chargers said
"The true character of our team came out today. The great leadership we have on this football team, the perseverance of the football team, we showed it today." -- Coach Mike McCoy.
What the Chiefs said
"We have to go back to, 'Let's just go 1-0 this week.' We can't be looking at anything beyond that. Let's have a good day tomorrow. We have to be critical and make improvements and then we move on." -- Quarterback Alex Smith.
What we learned about the Chargers
1. Although it was a quiet day for tight end Antonio Gates with three catches for 21 yards, he established career accomplishments that rank him among the greatest players to play the position. He surpassed the 700-catch mark and also went over 9,000 yards for his career, making him the fourth tight end in the history of the NFL to achieve that level of production. Gates joins Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe and Jason Witten
2. Injury concerns will be on the minds of the Chargers when they return to work Monday morning. Left tackle King Dunlap did not play because of a knee injury, and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson did not play because of a hand injury. During the game, running back Ryan Mathews went down with a hamstring problem. Late in the game, rookie tackle D.J. Fluker had to be helped off the field with an unknown injury.
What we learned about the Chiefs
1. There are real questions hanging over the defense after the Chiefs allowed 491 yards and five touchdowns to San Diego. Certainly, the biggest concern will be the status of outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Both left Sunday's game against the Chargers with injuries: Hali was on crutches in the locker room due to a right ankle ailment, and Houston had his right arm in a sling because of an elbow injury. Backup linebackers Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses struggled to put any pressure on San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, who was sacked just once, and that was by strong safety Eric Berry.
2. Quarterback Alex Smith can't afford to make any mistakes. He turned in one of his best passing performances of the season, completing 26 of 38 throws for 294 yards and three touchdowns. The only negative was an interception in the third quarter that set up one of San Diego's five touchdowns. "It was definitely a difference-maker in the game," Smith said. "We hand the ball to them deep in our end, and it was a tough position to put our defense in. You look up there at the scoreboard in the end and it could have been the difference."