Chargers upset Chiefs; LBs Hali, Houston hurt

Bob Gretz, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

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 have lost consecutive games, and 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."
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 294 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.
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 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.
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 on top.
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. ... OLB Tamba Hali left the Chiefs locker room after the game on crutches because of an ankle injury. OLB Justin Houston had his right arm in a splint from an elbow injury. Their status for Week 13 against the Denver Broncos is unknown. ... 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.

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