The Los Angeles Chargers flew to Kansas City winners of seven of the past nine games, playing nearly flawless on both sides of the football, with sights on a possible AFC West crown. Then a second-half implosion wiped it all away.
Philip Rivers threw three interceptions, the Chargers turned the ball over on four straight possessions after taking a 13-10 lead early in the third quarter, and the defense allowed four straight scoring drives to all but surrender the division to the Chiefs in a 30-13 loss.
"We kind of fell apart in a sense, I guess," Rivers said, via the team's official website. "We've just got to execute. Again, just what we talked about during the last four games, not turning the ball over and getting takeaways, we were the opposite of that today. We turned the ball over too many times in this environment."
Rivers was the biggest culprit in that meltdown. The quarterback repeatedly tossed into tight windows, resulting in interceptions. The veteran QB could have had more than three INTs if the Chiefs made plays on the ball earlier in the contest. Rivers reverted to his early-season turnover problems. In the Chargers seven losses this season, he has thrown nine interceptions. In the seven wins, he had just one.
Rivers had gone 163 passes without an interception, devouring the Nathan Peterman Bills, struggling Cowboys, winless Browns and crumbling Redskins. Saturday night he succumbed to a motivated K.C. defense that brought waves of pressure. Credit the Chiefs with bringing heat and the secondary for taking advantage of wayward throws. Bob Sutton's defense held Rivers without a completion of 20 yards to his receivers or tight ends.
L.A. overcame a 0-4 start to the season to blitz their way into the playoff picture. After losing control of the AFC West, the Chargers now must win out versus the Jets and Raiders and hope they get some help to swipe a playoff spot.
"I think the hardest part of it is that while it's not necessarily over yet, now you're not in control," echoed Rivers. "You've got to make sure you take care of the next couple, but then you need certain things to happen. So that is the toughest part, to claw our way [to] right here and taste it again, and then not play very well."