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Another week, another chance for Philip Rivers to lead a perfectly executed two-minute drill to win the game.
The eighth and final lead change of the game came courtesy of Rivers' arm. And with 24 seconds left in the game, the veteran passer found Seyi Ajirotutu for the 26-yard throw that sealed a 41-38 victory.
It's the Chargers' fifth win of the season -- and their first division victory. Moreover, it puts the Bolts right back in the AFC playoff hunt.
A big fourth quarter helped Rivers and Co. seal a bigger win. The two teams traded field goals to start the quarter when Rivers set up for another drive with 9:24 left to play. After a couple plays, Rivers dropped back, diagnosed the coverage, threw Ladarius Green open, and the young tight end did the rest. Green sprinted by the entire Chiefs defense for a 60-yard score. But the Chiefs responded later in the quarter with a taxing drive that spanned 55 yards and ended with a Dwayne Bowe touchdown reception.
But that drive only ate up two and a half minutes of clock -- more than enough for Rivers to rally. He fired to Gates for a first down on 3rd-and-10, and then threw twice to Danny Woodhead for some clutch first downs.
On the first throw to Woodhead, the shifty back faked Sean Smith, and then doubled back in bounds to gain more yards. Both catches ended with Woodhead stepping out of bounds and saving precious clock.
That drive was jeopardized when Eric Berry sacked Rivers and forced the Bolts to burn their last timeout. But on the very next play, Rivers threw high and deep down the sideline for Ajirotutu, who separated from coverage and secured a touchdown catch with less than 30 seconds left.
The defense closed out the victory with a sack, and downed the Chiefs at home. Stay tuned to Chargers.com for the latest analysis from a big road win from Arrowhead. Read
The Chargers are down just four points after a back-and-forth third quarter that saw four lead changes.
They seized the lead twice -- thanks to a bomb from Philip Rivers to Eddie Royal and a big interception from Marcus Gilchrist. But the Chiefs fought back with another Jamaal Charles touchdown and an Anthony Fasano score and took back the lead, 28-24.
Rivers and Royal wasted no time getting his offense back to work in the second half. The quarterback sidestepped a rushing Derrick Johnson and rolled to his right, buying Royal just enough time to sneak behind Marcus Cooper and get open downfield. He caught the pass, evaded Cooper, and zigzagged his way for a few more yards.
Mathews flew over the pile of a one-yard touchdown to end a six-play, 72-yard drive just the way Head Coach Mike McCoy likes it -- by sandwiching a score at the end of the first half with another at the start of the second half.
Penalties threatened the Bolts after that. Three pass interference calls on the Chiefs' ensuing possession helped the Chiefs end an 85-yard drive with another Charles score. And when the Bolts got the ball back, a big pass to Ladarius Green was negated because Jeromey Clary was downfield illegally.
The Chargers ended up getting a big play on defense, though. A play after a tipped Smith pass was nearly picked off, the Chiefs passer fired high for Donnie Avery. It tipped off Shareece Wright’s hands and went right to Gilchrist.
Danny Woodhead's second touchdown of the day put the Bolts up soon after that. But the Chiefs drove once again and crossed the goal line on a four-yard swing pass to Fasano.
The Bolts are back in business as the fourth quarter begins. They’re set up at the Chiefs’ 11-yard line to try and reclaim the lead. Read
The touchdown toss went 11 yards to Danny Woodhead and narrowed the first half score to 14-10, but it was Allen who set it all up. The rookie has caught eight passes so far for 104 yards and helped Rivers set up a perfect two-minute drive.
Allen's 11-yard catch with 29 seconds left was impressive and clutch at the same time. He reached back with one arm to snag a pass behind him and put the Chargers right outside the Chiefs' ten-yard line.
A play later, Woodhead snuck out of the backfield on his patented wheel route and scored his fifth touchdown this season.
The Bolts still trail, though, because of a second game-changing catch by Avery. He caught a 36-yard streak from Alex Smith and set up the Chiefs in point-blank range for a seven-yard Jamaal Charles score earlier in the quarter.
The offensive fireworks came at the tail end of a largely defensive quarter. The Bolts converted a 4th-and-inches to start the quarter, but couldn't turn that conversion into points and punted.
The Chiefs punted back eight plays later, but penalties stalled San Diego. A false start call and a holding call put them in a long third down situation -- and Head Coach Mike McCoy chose to hand the ball off to Ryan Mathews and punt instead of attempt a pass against the Chiefs' tough rush.
The Bolts will get the ball to start the second half, too.
The Chiefs boast the NFL's second best defense, but the Bolts are proving they can get after the passer too.
The Chiefs were forced to punt on back-to-back drives when John Pagano's unit got to Alex Smith with back-to-back drive-ending sacks. But on the Chiefs' third drive, Smith found Donny Avery for a 32-yard touchdown to put their team up over the Bolts, 7-3.
Thomas Keiser, Reggie Walker and other defenders were making Smith look uncomfortable up until the Chiefs' score.
Walker's sack with 10:16 left in the quarter was particularly impressive. Walker chased Smith up the middle, but the Chiefs' passer tried to scramble when Corey Liuget collapsed his pocket. Walker kept with the play long enough to trip Smith up, and when the passer's knee hit the turf and the whistles blew, the Bolts got off the field.
San Diego took over for their second possession of the game. And after their first drive stalled, Philip Rivers eclipsed 3,000 passing yards for the eighth time in his career with a 29-yard pitch-and-catch to Keenan Allen.
The duo couldn't connect on a slick double move by Allen in the end zone, though. Allen had shook his cover, Marcus Cooper, and separated by a yard or two. Rivers pass was just a little too high, and Novak kicked a field goal when the Chiefs' staunch defense held its ground in their red zone.
Then, the Chiefs responded with their touchdown toss. Allen picked up another first down with time expiring, and the Bolts will look to seize the lead when the second quarter resumes.
The Bolts will try to do what no NFL team has through 11 weeks – earn a win in Arrowhead Stadium.
In their first matchup this season, the San Diego Chargers (4-6) can snap a three-game losing streak by beating the tough Kansas City Chiefs (9-1). The weather – and the reception by the road fans – will be chilly when toe hits leather at 10:00AM PST.
When Philip Rivers drops back in the pocket, he’ll have many dangerous options in the passing game. Danny Woodhead, the do-it-all running back who is part of a deep rushing attack this season, has also snagged 55 passes so far. Antonio Gates, the Bolts’ trusted tight end, has more touchdown catches against the Chiefs (13) than any other opponent in his 11-year career. And Rivers also has the option of throwing to receivers Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen. The latter leads all NFL rookies in receiving yards with 613. They’ll need all the firepower they can muster to combat a ferocious Chiefs pass rush. The unit has 36 sacks already, with linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali forming a tough tandem off the edges.
Stopping the Chiefs talented offense starts and ends with slowing Jamaal Charles – who averages over five yards per carry against the Chargers. Then, they’ll try to contain Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ talented passing attack. Smith has completed passes to 13 different receivers this season. Receiver Dwayne Bowe is getting more and more of those targets – he tallied seven catches and a touchdown the last time he faced the Bolts.
Inactives for the Chargers include: Brad Sorensen, Lavelle Hawkins, Brandon Taylor, Willie Smith, King Dunlap, Kwame Geathers and Jarret Johnson.
Stay tuned to Chargers.com for the latest news and analysis from Bolts-Chiefs. Read