NFL: Chiefs 23, Chargers 20
By Dave Skretta
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ó Ryan Succop kicked the Kansas City Chiefs into the history books.
Philip Rivers will be quite the footnote.
Succop knocked through a 30-yard field goal in overtime Monday night, giving the Chiefs a 23-20 win over the San Diego Chargers and moving them into an improbable tie atop the AFC West.
Kansas City became the first team in NFL history to lose its first three games and share at least part of a division lead after four more games. The Chiefs are also the first team since the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000 to win four straight games after losing their first three.
Rivers could have prevented all of it from happening.
The Chargers had trailed the whole way before the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback marched them downfield in the closing minutes of regulation. With first-and-10 at the 15 and just 48 seconds on the clock, Rivers fumbled the snap and the Chiefsí Andy Studebaker clawed under the pile and retrieved the ball.
Kansas City moved down the field for its own chance to win in regulation, but Matt Cassel overthrew his intended receiver and Eric Weddleís second interception sent the game to overtime.
The Chargers won the toss but failed to pick up a first down, and Cassel calmly led Kansas City right down field. Succopís field goal with 5:16 left gave the Chiefs (4-3) their fourth straight win and moved them into a tie with San Diego (4-3) and the idle Oakland Raiders (4-3) in the division.
Kansas City got off to an abysmal start this season, losing its first two games by a combined 89-10 and then dropping its third game on the road, at San Diego. Along the way, the Chiefs lost Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki to season-ending injuries.
They started moving in the right direction against division doormats Minnesota and Indianapolis, and then romped to a 28-0 win over Oakland last week.
Now, they are tied for the lead in the AFC West.
The Chiefs had things going early, getting a 36-yard field goal from Succop in the first quarter and then capitalizing on Riversí second interception in the first few minutes.
With the ball at the Chargers 39, Cassel dropped back and saw Jonathan Baldwin streaking for the end zone, and the wide receiver out-jumped fellow rookie Marcus Gilchrist for his first career touchdown catch and a 10-0 lead.
Rivers, who threw for 369 yards, was also intercepted by Kendrick Lewis early in the game, one week after throwing two fourth-quarter picks in a disheartening loss to the New York Jets.
Succop kicked his second field goal just before halftime for a 13-3 lead.
The Chargers defense kept them in the game in the third quarter, holding the Chiefs to two three-and-outs and picking off Cassel for the second time. Kansas City only managed 44 yards of total offense through the second and third quarters.
Nick Novak kicked three field goals in the third quarter, drawing the Chargers within 13-12, but their inability to get into the end zone nearly cost them.
Kansas City finally got its offense in gear, marching 74 yards in 10 plays early in the fourth quarter. Jackie Battle finished off the drive by leaping over the scrum from a yard out, giving the Chiefs a 20-12 lead with 12:01 left.
It sure didnít last long.
Rivers completed four straight passes covering 74 yards ó one for 27 yards to Vincent Jackson on third-and-13 ó before Curtis Brinkley leaped in from 2 yards out for the Chargersí first touchdown.
Going for the 2-point conversion and the tie, Rivers floated a pass to Brinkley in the flat and he was thrown back by cornerback Brandon Carr. The officials ruled that Brinkley nudged the ball over the goal line, though, and the decision was upheld by video review.
It was the fourth replay call that went against the Chiefs.
Riversí butterfingers made that a moot point.
The Associated Press