CHIEFS 33, CHARGERS 3
SAN DIEGO – They came to honor one of the team’s true all-time greats. To thank the man who gave them so many thrills for nine years, establishing himself as a sure first-ballot nominee in Canton, Ohio, in 2017.
And as quickly as LaDainian Tomlinson could see and maneuver through the smallest of holes, many of the 65,837 that came to see their Chargers’ hero have his number retired by a once-proud franchise, were gone. Or, at least by the end of the third quarter.
Thanks for nothing, Chargers.
On a warm November day resembling many of the early fall afternoons that Tomlinson found the end zone again and again for San Diego, Qualcomm Stadium put on some of its best throwback lipstick, but coach Mike McCoy couldn’t even come close to gussying up the powder-blue clad pig currently taking up residence in Mission Valley.
It was a shame the team laid down on LT’s special day, as Kansas City flattened the embattled the Chargers (2-8), 33-3, sending San Diego to a sixth-straight loss.
Ironically, it was here in on December 2, 2007, against these division rival Chiefs that Tomlinson passed Walter Payton on the all time rushing touchdown list, with his 111th career rushing touchdown.
That season was the peak of the team’s most modern era, which saw them reach the AFC Championship Game.
Now the franchise sits at an all-time low, with apathy running through the veins of every aspect of the team’s interest.
A beleaguered coach, a distant ownership with no future, seething fans and a cut-throat media covering the sports story of their careers, the Chargers’ faithful that came back to try to hang on to the last sliver of greatness in an obviously lost season, were treated to a couple of those old, usually reliable stars, that were made to look bad by nearly an entire cast of understudies.
Now McCoy comes to the office on Monday wondering, or maybe hoping, his termination notice is sits squarely on his desk. If not now, then why wait until January? The ball coach told reporters early Sunday evening that he “would continue to fight.”
“I was very disappointed in the way the game finished,” McCoy said in his postgame press conference, which took a different tone than usual. “You need to as players, look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘what did I do for 60 minutes?’ ”
The Chargers are now leading the way to the No. 1 draft choice as a result of a complete structural breakdown. The result of the stadium issue, aging and retiring stars and a myriad of injuries that could land most capable coaches on the unemployed list.
Oh, the Chiefs (5-5), their not as bad as their record might indicate, as they won their fourth straight game following a five-game losing streak.
Kansas City seems to make due with the best of what they have. Not to mention a rabid fanbase that often had no trouble selling out – or showing up – even when times weren’t so good. They didn’t turn out to overwhelm the Q like other foes this season, as it would have been hard for them to rival the crowd that came out to see LT.
Because surely that is what they were here for.
Justin Houston, the newest Chargers’ terror who had four sacks in the season-killing finale last December, intercepted Philip Rivers and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown for a 19-3 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter and 346-pound defensive tackle Dontari Poe bested William “The Refrigerator” Perry and had an imaginative 1-yard touchdown to open the scoring, as Kansas City continued its roll back into the playoff race.
“Two holding calls is unacceptable,” Dunlap said. “We have to be better. I have to play better.”
Smith, who led Helix High to consecutive San Diego CIF championships at the stadium, was 20 of 25 passes for 253 yards. He also ran seven times for 33 yards.
Smith broke Steve DeBerg‘s Chiefs’ record of 233 consecutive passes without an interception. Smith threw his 234th straight pass without a pick on a 47-yard completion to running back Charcandrick West. Smith extended his record to 253.
The former Heisman candidate turned in one of his unspectacular big plays on a 3rd-and-6 on his own 18 with 1:26 remaining in the first half. He somehow escaped a sure sack and scrambled 10 yards for a first down. The Chiefs ended up moving down and kicking a field goal to take a 12-3 lead at halftime.
“If we had the third down stop, as you saw, I was down there and going to call timeout for the fourth down play,” McCoy said. “Unfortunately we let Alex get out. We had a stop.”
The Chiefs’ Poe, a 6-foot-3 defender, leaped over the pile to score for a 6-0 lead becoming the heaviest player ever to score a touchdown. The PAT failed.
“I know my teammates and I came out there and played hard on defense,” linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu said. “I think it is something we can work and fix.”
Rivers and another Chargers’ legend, tight end Antonio Gates, were seen arguing on the sidelines.
San Diego’s only score was a 52-yard field goal by rookie Josh Lambo. Despite a shaky start to his career, Lambo has seen his long kicks continue to be more accurate as the season wears on, while many of the game’s other strong legs continued to struggle for the second-straight week. The rest of the Chargers’ special teams, however, continue playing at a level of historical ineptitude.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” said Rivers, of the Chargers failing to dent the end zone. “I don’t know how many of those we’ve had in my career here. Not a lot. So the defense could have held them to six today and we would have still lost.
“I can’t speak player by player, but every guy cares for different reasons. Every guys’ full glass of caring is different. I think we have guys here that it means something to them. We have dealt with a lot of variables, but it comes down for us to try and find a way.
“Brothers fuss and fight. I love Antonio. I think he is going to tell you the same thing. We have been here as long as anybody. We are at our last straw, sitting at 2-8, we’re saying to each other more like, ‘c’mon, guys, we’ve gotta figure this out.’ ”
Gates didn’t address the sideline rift with his long-time, record-setting counterpart.
“It is not the foundation of what we stand for as a football team (or) as an organization,” Gates said. “We just got to keep plugging away. Keep trying to find ways to win a football game. I think that’s been the task every single week, and that will continue to be the task.”
And as for those famed powder blues? A jersey that was rocked no better than by San Diego’s legendary No. 21.
The Chargers should just put them away for now. The effort of the team’s play and the conduct of their front office, coaching staff and ownership just isn’t worthy of wearing the game’s finest threads.