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Comeback stalls in OT

Posted Oct 31, 2011

San Diego (4-3) appeared poised to complete a fourth-quarter comeback at Kansas City (4-3) before watching the game, and a chance at a one-game division lead, slip away in a 23-20 loss.

KANSAS CITY – Just as it appeared San Diego would outlast a resilient Kansas City, complete a fourth-quarter comeback and create some separation in the AFC West, the ball slipped from Philip Rivers’ hands.

The Chargers couldn’t obtain back-to-back Halloween victories and fell to the Chiefs, 23-20, in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium.

The way it ended, on a mishandled snap, left the locker room in a somber mood.

“The game had a lot of swing to it,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “That’s a very unusual way to not win a game. If someone gave me different scenarios before the game of the way it would end, that certainly would not have been in the discussion.”

San Diego (4-3) overcame deficits of 13-3 and 20-12 to tie the game and was bleeding the clock ahead of a potential game-winning field goal when Nick Hardwick and Rivers botched a snap. Hardwick said it has been six years since the two put one on the ground.

“It’s unfortunate,” Rivers said. “I dropped it.”

Forced into overtime, the Chargers got the ball first but went three-and-out. A 30-yard Ryan Succop field goal ended the game on the next possession for Kansas City (4-3).

A 2-yard, leaping Curtis Brinkley touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion made the score 20-20 and kept Nick Novak planted on the sideline for one of the first times all game. Rivers found a rhythm after two first-quarter interceptions, completing 10 consecutive passes at one point and leading the Bolts into Chiefs territory again and again.

But drives kept fizzling near the same spot, and Novak made 4-of-5 field goal attempts.

Brinkley’s first-career touchdown seemed to swing the see-saw game back toward San Diego. A 31-yard Patrick Crayton punt return gave Rivers the ball near midfield late in the fourth quarter. Nine plays later, Brinkley pounded the ball to the 15-yard line.

With the all-time series tied, 51-51-1, the two sides weren’t finished creating drama. The Chiefs had no timeouts with little more than one minute left, but Andy Studebaker recovered a mishandled snap to send the game into overtime. Facing a third-and-14 near midfield, Matt Cassel found Steve Breaston for 17 yards. Succop ended the game minutes later.

Rivers completed 22-of-31 passes for 315 yards after a troublesome first quarter. Malcom Floyd caught five passes for 107 yards to lead all receivers in the loss.

Novak now is 15-of-16 this season, but the Chargers wish they’d converted several of those into touchdowns instead. His lone miss sweeping a few feet to the right on a 52-yard attempt.

The Chargers outgained Kansas City and held the Chiefs to just 32 rushing yards in the first half, but trailed 13-3 after two turnovers and nine penalties. Jonathan Baldwin also caught a 39-yard touchdown pass for Kansas City in the second quarter.

Eric Weddle intercepted two passes in the loss, which created a three-way tie at the top of the AFC West that includes idle Oakland (4-3). It also completes a respectable turnaround for Kansas City, which fell to 0-3 after a Sept. 25 loss at Qualcomm Stadium.

“This one’s rough,” Rivers said. “Any loss, you want throws back. There’s plays we could obviously play better, but when you know you’re a minute away from just leaking the clock and kicking a field goal to end it after the way we fought back, then you blow it on something that shouldn’t ever happen.

“The Chiefs won the division last year. They fought back from being 0-3 and now there’s a bunch of us locked up at 4-3. It’s going to be an all-season deal and we’ve got to find a way to bounce back in a hurry.”

Said Turner: “We can’t spend a lot of time fretting and worrying about this game. We’ve got to clean up the issues that are keeping us from getting it done and go play.”

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