The Chargers needed a win badly, and they came through with a dominating performance on both sides of the ball for a 31-13 victory.
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The Chargers received the opening kickoff and marched it 84 yards for a touchdown. Philip Rivers was a perfect 4-for-4 on the drive for 70 yards, culminating with a 14-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates. The Chiefs marched the ball across midfield, but Demorrio Williams punched the ball out of Dwayne Bowe’s hands and Quentin Jammer recovered to give the Chargers possession with 2:27 remaining in the opening quarter. After one, the score was 7-0 in favor of the home team.
Rivers continued his hot hand into the second quarter, staying perfect as he completed five passes on a drive that ended with a 25–yard field goal by Nick Novak to give the Bolts a 10-0 lead. Matt Cassel drove the Chiefs right back down the field and cut the lead to 10-3 on a Ryan Succop 49-yard field goal. The Chargers had a chance to extend their lead in the closing seconds of the half, but Rivers threw an interception in the end zone and the lead remained at seven points heading into the third quarter.
The Chargers defense forced a three-and-out immediately on the first drive of the half, but Eric Weddle fumbled the return setting the Chiefs up at the Bolts 24-yard line. The defense responded strongly, holding the Chiefs to a 45-yard field goal attempt that was wide left. Back on offense, the team wasn’t able to get much going as a penalty on Jared Gaither stalled the drive and forced a punt that special teams ace Darrell Stuckey downed at the seven-yard line. The Chiefs offense got a roll from there, marching the ball down to the Bolts 25-yard line, where Succop hit a 41-yard field goal. Ryan Mathews sparked the Bolts offense on the first play of the following series with a season-long 31-yard run to midfield as the click struck zero. After three quarters of play, the Chargers led 10-6.
With the ball at the Chiefs 38-yard line to start the fourth, the Bolts continued to pound the rock all the way down to the 13-yard line. From there, Rivers threw a back shoulder pass to Malcom Floyd who showed tremendous footwork to get his feet in bounds for the much needed touchdown. After the extra point, the Chargers led 17-6. After the kickoff, the defense came through with a much needed big play as Jarret Johnson rushed the edge and stripped Cassel in the end zone. Shaun Phillips pounced on the loose ball and just like that it was 24-6 Bolts. The Chiefs wouldn’t go down easily though, as they marched down field. But once again, the defense came up big as Demorrio Williams picked off Cassel and returned it 59-yards for the touchdown for a 31-6 advantage. On their next possession, the Chiefs scored on a Shaun Draughn six-yard run up the gut to make the score 31-13. But that was as close as they would get as the Bolts eventually wound up taking a knee for the victory.
The Chargers had just gone up 17-6 on a Malcom Floyd touchdown when the Chiefs took over at their own four-yard line. On second down, Jarret Johnson rushed off the edge and got to Matt Cassel almost immediately. The quarterback tried to elude him by running to his left, but Johnson caught up to him and stripped him deep in the end zone. Shaun Phillips wrestled the loose ball away from the Chiefs and just like that, the Bolts were up 24-6.
It Was Over When…
Trying desperately to get back into the game, Cassel was marching the Chiefs down the field with just under eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. He looked to hit Dexter McCluster on a pass to the right, but the ball bounced off his fingertips into the waiting hands of Demorrio Williams. The linebacker plucked it out of the air and bolted 59-yards down the left sideline for the touchdown, giving the Chargers a commanding 31-6 lead.
Play of the Game
It was only the third play of the game, but it was a beauty. On 3rd-and-5, Rivers threw deep left looking for the newly signed Seyi Ajirotutu. The ball floated a bit long and seemed to be out of reach, but the 6-foot-3 receiver went full extension to cradle in the diving catch with his finger tips for a gain of 28-yards to the amazement of the crowd. The play put extra pep in the Chargers step as they went on to open the game with a touchdown to Antonio Gates
Stat of the Game
Philip Rivers’ 90% completion percentage on 20 attempts tied for the fifth-highest of all-time with Steve Young. He became only the sixth QB to ever post one of 90% or higher.
“I thought our guys did a great job coming back from Cleveland on a short week –zeroing in on what we had to do in terms of preparation for this game. I thought it was going to be the type of game it was – a challenge in your division. ” – Head Coach Norv Turner
“It felt good to win. We all know how hard it is to win in this league and we all enjoy it. We just have to start preparing for our next game – Running Back Ryan Mathews
“We needed this win tonight, and it felt good. When our offense is rolling and is balanced like it was tonight, I don’t think there are many teams that can stop us.” – Center Nick Hardwick
“We knew they were going to give the ball to Jamaal Charles. Our main thing was playing good on first and second down. We did that. Other than one drive, I thought we played extremely well against the run.” – Linebacker Jarret Johnson
Odds and Ends
The Chargers had a balanced running attack with Ryan Mathews, Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown, who all averaged over 5.0 yards per carry.
For the second game in a row, Brown led the team in receptions with five. Danario Alexander topped all pass catchers in receiving yards with 61.
Donald Butler led the team with nine tackles.
Curtis Brinkley returned kickoffs for the Bolts today. Eric Weddle handled punts.
Antonio Garay made his season debut tonight and recorded two tackles.
The Chargers came out of the game with a quartet of injuries: Antwan Barnes (hamstring), Atari Bigby (hip), Vaughn Martin (elbow) and Demorrio Williams (abdominal).
Today served as the team’s annual Salute to Service.
The inactives today included Eddie Royal, Robert Meachem, Brandon Taylor, Larry English, Jonas Mouton, Antonio Garay and Ladarius Green.