Trent Green (Getty Images)
In front of a crowd of 75,451 at Arrowhead the Chiefs won the game, 24-22, on a 38 yard field goal by Michael Husted with just over a minute to go in the game. The Chargers deflated their aspirations for a playoff berth in the emotional loss.
The Chiefs started the possession with the ball at their own three yard line. Trent Green (23-36, 337, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception) went 5-8 on the drive including a 32 yard pass to Tony Gonzalez (6-65) on the first play for the drive. The Chargers had appeared to stop Mike Cloud (16 rushes, 19 yards) on a fourth down attempt but it was ruled a first down. The Chargers challenged the spot of the ball but came up empty, losing their final timeout in the process. A few plays later Husted hit what would be the game winner.
The Chargers got the ball back one final time with 1:01 left at their own 35 yard line. Drew Brees (26-40, 242, 2 touchdowns) ran the ball 15 yards and then spiked the ball. With :43 seconds left Brees hit Reche Caldwell over the middle and Caldwell fumbled the ball trying to get the extra yard. With that fumble, the Chargers fumbled away their opportunity to get back into the playoff race.
On the first Kansas City drive of the game the Chiefs ran two consecutive reverses to Eddie Kennison that gained one yard apiece and then were stopped a yard short of a first down on third and eight. The Chargers defense held the number one scoring offense in the league to a three-and-out. A 34-yard return by Tim Dwight (6 receptions, 63 yards) to put the Chargers into Chiefs territory but they could not capitalize despite going for it on fourth and eight. Curtis Conway, still bothered by an ailing shoulder, dropped a first down pass on third down. The ploy not to pin the Chiefs deep would come back to haunt the Chargers.
With good field position Green went 5-7, 57 yards, on the drive which was capped off by Marc Boerigter (5-144) slipping free past Rodney Harrison in the back of the end zone to catch an 8 yard touchdown to put the Chiefs up 7-0. The highlight of the drive was a fingertip only catch by Gonzalez which Ben Leber tried to intercept only to see Gonzo pull the ball from Leber’s waiting hands and run it down the sidelines breaking at least three tackles on the way. The Chargers, especially in the last few weeks, have commented about how they need to tackle better but five missed tackles occurred on this drive alone.
On the ensuing Charger possession they would take it down inside the red zone but were held to a field goal from 30 yards out by Steve Christie to make the score 7-3. The drive was made possible on a toss to LaDainian Tomlinson (24 rushes, 131 yards) that went for 34 yards. Drew Brees missed an opportunity to hit Dwight in the back of the end zone by leading him too far as it dropped incomplete.
Just before the half the Chiefs would again rely on the strength of Green’s arm. Green led his team down passing for 80 yards while going 7-9 to put his team up 14-3 on a 6 yard pass to Omar Easy. It was the first touchdown reception of Easy’s career and the 56th touchdown for the Chiefs which sets a new team record for most touchdowns in a season.
With just over a minute left in the game the Bolts drove down the field without the aid of Tomlinson who left after a draw play with what appeared to be a rib injury. A big catch by Caldwell at the sidelines went for 26 yards and it could have been reviewed by officials but was not. Brees then appeared to hit Eric Parker in the back of the end zone for a touchdown but the play was ruled incomplete and not reviewed. A pivotal play such as that should have been reviewed as it looked like Parker got both his feet in bounds for the score. The problem is officials must call for the review within two minutes of the end of either half. Two plays could have been reviewed and neither was. The Bolts then settled for a 49 yard field goal by Christie to make the score 14-6 going into halftime.
Darren Bennett pinned the Chiefs down at the one yard line with a punt and subsequent false start penalty on Easy. It would not matter. On the first play after the penalty Green hit tight end Marc Boerigter for a 99 yard touchdown pass. Boerigter blew by cornerback Ryan McNeil on the play and hustled down the length of the field to place the Chiefs up 21-6.
The Chargers came right back spending 3:09 seconds on a drive to score on a touchdown reception by Tim Dwight. The touchdown pass by Brees was his first in the past four games. Brees went 5-5 on the drive for 52 yards. With the score 21-12 they attempted the two point conversion but the route Reche Caldwell ran came up short of the end zone despite him catching the ball.
After the Chargers defense forced the Chiefs to punt, the Chargers came back to get into field goal position again on the arm of Brees. Brees was 3-4 for 51 yards which set up a 24 yard field goal by Christie. The ball hit the left upright before going through to bring the score to 21-15.
Again the Chargers defense stepped up forcing a three and out for the now red-hot Charger offense. The Chargers took the lead, 22-21, driving the ball 79 yards capped off by another touchdown pass from Brees who hit Fred McCrary from 3 yards out. The drive was a nice balance of runs and passes. Tomlinson rushed 5 times for 29 yards and Brees was 4-4 for 50 yards including a 32 yard reception by Stephen Alexander.
On the first play of the Chiefs next drive Keith Lyle picked off a pass thrown by Green at the San Diego 32. Green was attempting to hit Derrick Blaylock but threw into double coverage as Lyle made a nice grab on the ball. The Chiefs challenged the play as the ball bounced off Lyle’s hands and in between his legs but it never hit the ground and the call on the field would stand and Kansas City would be charged a timeout. The Chargers would be unable to capitalize but the momentum was surely in the Chargers favor but it did not last as the Chargers came up short in their bid to win the game and move a step closer to the playoffs for the first time since 1995.