The 2016 Chargers season started out excellent but ended on a sour note as the team failed to hold the lead and lost 33-27 in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs drew first blood with an early 3-0 lead on the teams first possession of the game. The San Diego Chargers unfazed, went on to go ahead 7-3 with an impressive drive of their own.
Melvin Gordon‘s preseason production spilled over into the regular season. Gordon finally hit pay dirt with his first NFL touchdown after being shut-out all of last year. San Diego followed up the go ahead score with a second touchdown drive by Gordon. 14-3 was the score and a stunned Arrowhead crowd was starting to quiet down.
The Chargers team, I rave about was on display. The Chiefs had nothing. Smith was under duress, and the K.C. run game was contained. Philip Rivers found Danny Woodhead in the corner of the end zone to pull away 21-3 halfway through the 2nd quarter. Then it happened. An apparent ACL injury to the right knee of wide receiver Keenan Allen took some air out of this Chargers team. The injury took place near the end of the first half and despite the team still holding a commanding lead, they started losing their momentum.
Kansas City, punch drunk was finally able to score a touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. Rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill scores on a pass from Alex Smith. The score was 21-10 with the game well in hand for San Diego (or at least we thought). Slowly but surely things started to change. Mike McCoy called for a 54-yard FG attempt by kicker Josh Lambo. The kick never had a chance and momentum started for Kansas City.
San Diego did add a couple of field goals to their lead, but no more touchdowns. The inability to get back to the end zone would haunt them.
The Chiefs weren’t interested in matching field goals as they started to heat up late. With 9:18 left in the fourth quarter Smith finds Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown. Score 27-17 and the quiet crowd started to believe. Kansas City did have to settle for three points towards their greater goal on a fourth quarter drive. Score was now 27-20, and the Chargers were reeling. San Diego had become conservative on offense and continued to take no time off the clock on their failed drives. Tyrell Williams who had two receptions for 71 yards and Melvin Gordon who scored two touchdowns, were obviously not utilized enough.
I expect so much more from Philip Rivers and this offense even without Keenan Allen on the field. Another unsuccessful drive leads to a punt back to the Chiefs. The Chargers rookie punter Drew Kaser had a rough game and he definitely shares some blame for the team’s failure to hold the lead.
This game had shades of Hulk Hogan versus some big villain. I guess we were the villains. What felt like an unstoppable Alex Smith lead the Chiefs on a game tying drive late in the fourth quarter. Fantasy darling Spencer Ware goes in for the touchdown with the game now in doubt, despite the tie displayed on the Chiefs Jumbotron.
If I spoke to Coach McCoy, I’d ask him two questions– 1. Why do you stop feeding Gordon? 2. Why didn’t you keep feeding Tyrell Williams? With the ball back in San Diego’s hands after the tie, significant time was run off of the clock. What was the team playing for? Overtime? Not long after the confusion, handoff….. end of regulation? Then as my gut told me, Kansas City wins the toss.
Finally the defense that played so well, providing turnovers and pressuring Alex Smith… caved in. On an overtime drive that took approximately five minutes, Kansas City scores the winning touchdown. On the same legs I mentioned in my preview. Alex Smith calls his own number scoring the winning TD in overtime, ruining San Diego’s great start and punctuating their horrible collapse.
The injury to Keenan Allen was supposed to be the only loss. A win wouldn’t even suffice. Losing our number one wideout and the game is absolutely tough. It’s really easy to give up on this team, but I won’t be doing that. I hope for a small miracle for Keenan. I believe the San Diego Chargers aren’t done either. Eternal optimist out…