In a truly entertaining and nail-biting game, the Chargers defeated the Chiefs 41-38 in a match-up that finally demonstrated that San Diego has the gumption to positively finish a game and get the win.
QB Philip Rivers entered the game with 2,989 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, eight interceptions, a passer rating of 104.4, and leads the league in completion percentage at 70.9%. Today, Rivers added to his stats going 27-of-39 for 392 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, QB Alex Smith, prior to today's game, had thrown for 2,149 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, an 80.9 passer rating, and a completion percentage of 58.1%. Today he completed 24-of-36 passes for 281 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Of particular note, TE Antonio Gates caught his 700th pass in the 4th quarter, thus becoming only the fourth tight end in history to accomplish this feat.
But what did we learn, if anything, in today's wild matchup?
1. The Chiefs' record was not truly indicative of the quality of the team itself. Granted, Kansas City's defense has been great this year; however, the offense has been rather inconsistent and their schedule was, indeed, rather soft; beating Jacksonville, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York Giant, Tennessee, Oakland, Houston, Cleveland, and Buffalo before losing to the 8-1 Denver Broncos. Prior to this week's games, these defeated teams had a combined record of 34-58.
Even the Chiefs' highly-ranked defense had dropped a bit statistically and giving up 41 points to the Chargers did little to reinforce the modicum of collective fear other teams have been feeling when having to face them, particularly at Arrowhead Stadium where, prior to today, the Chiefs were undefeated at home. Granted, Rivers, as mentioned, leads the league in passing completion percentage but the Chargers haven't been an offensive powerhouse this season; yet, despite the ridiculousness of the penalties called against San Diego, the Chargers made the Chiefs' defense look, well, mortal. Of course, this occurred with the losses of sack-masters Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to injuries relatively early in the game.
2. Derek Cox was a horrible acquisition for the Chargers. Acquired on 13 March 2013 from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cox was benched twice--during the Chargers' losses to both the Broncos and Redskins--and demonstrated his ineffectiveness today, letting receivers run past him which resulted in scores and drawing penalty flags. He needs to be cut immediately.
In a similar vein, RT/RG Jeromey Clary has also passed his utility. This was not necessarily learned today but is more common knowledge (except to the Chargers' front office). He, not unlike Cox, draws way too many flags for false starts and other idiocy. It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that the Chargers would let players such as Louis Vasquez go but keep Clary. Time for him to go too.
3. Danny Woodhead was and continues to be an incredible addition to the San Diego offense and special teams. Today alone Woodhead ran the ball six times for 25 yards and a score, had four receptions for 45 yards and another touchdown, and added 27 more kickoff return yards. On the season, prior to today's game, he has rushed the ball 64 times for 241 yards and one touchdown; however, he has caught 55 balls for 424 yards and four touchdowns, for an average of 7.7 yards-per-reception.
4. Jamaal Charles is the Chiefs' offense. Prior to the game, Charles had amassed 803 yards on 186 carries, with six touchdowns and an average of 4.3 yards-per-carry. He also had 383 receiving yards and two more scores. Today, Charles rushed 14 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns and caught 42 additional yards. One interesting stat mentioned during the game is that Charles accounts for 27.1% of the Chiefs' total yards from scrimmage, leading the league against impressive competition such as Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch. This is not to say that Smith doesn't contribute (see above) but absent Charles I don't think the Chiefs would be where they are right now.
5. Finally, there is a rapidly-growing trend of truly horrendous refereeing in the NFL which was overtly highlighted last year with the replacement refs and that ridiculous Monday Night Football game-ending call in Seattle versus Green Bay that had all football fans (except, perhaps, Seattle fans) up in arms. Unfortunately, even amid the regular referees' horrible calls which continue to be made, these affronts to common sense were particularly noticeable in this game. For example, the three consecutive pass interference calls against San Diego in the third quarter during the Chiefs' drive toward their third touchdown were highly questionable (to name just a few) and I'm not just mentioning this because I am a Chargers' fan but because it violates the integrity of the game. Let them play, I say, and only call those alleged penalties that are truly heinous. And if penalties are to be flagged then be fair about it. I was beginning to think that Coleman's crew was being especially scrutinizing toward San Diego because the Chargers weren't supposed to be winning the game. Nevertheless, despite the horrid officiating, San Diego pulled out the win.
So there you have it: my take on today's lessons learned. Comments anyone?