SAN DIEGO – It was supposed to be a tale of two offenses – the Kansas City Chiefs, who came into Qualcomm Stadium having scored a meager 10 points in their first two games combined, and the No. 3 ranked Chargers offense.
Instead, it was a tale of near shock with an ending punctuated by an Eric Weddle interception with the Chiefs threatening to score in the final minutes of the Chargers 20-17 win in front of a crowd of 62,236.
“This win would’ve counted no different if it was a wider margin of victory,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said after the game. “It’d still count the same and that’s all we’re concerned with.”
“That’s the kind of game we prepared for,” said head coach Norv Turner. “Obviously (the Chiefs) have had some struggles, but I’ve been in this league long enough…to know we were going to get their best effort.”
Before the game, the Chargers defense made a show of unity, exploding from their tunnel onto the field as a group. The defense kept the Chiefs scoreless through the first half, but the Chiefs managed to score in the second half after a 37-yard punt return by Javier Arenas set up a Matt Cassel-led drive of 42-yards and capped off with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe.
Rivers threw for 266 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. That particular line didn’t seem to bother him.
“The only stat I care about is winning,” Rivers said. “Certainly I want to play better and we’ll work like crazy to do that, but 2-1 is what’s important and we’ll work like crazy this week to get number three.”
Running back Ryan Matthews had a standout game rushing for 98 yards, scoring twice. Turner and Rivers have both noted how much Matthews has improved from week-to-week.
“I’m excited about Ryan and what he’s doing,” Turner said. “I think he’s getting more comfortable and using his vision a lot better and making very god running decisions and it’s very obvious that he is becoming a very good receiver.”
Antonio Gates did not play due to lingering issues with his foot, though Turner said he was optimistic that Gates would return to full health. “We have a timeline and we’ve talked with the medical people and it might be Sunday,” Turner said.
“The biggest issue for me, for our entire football team, is we’re not in-sync, in terms of playing the entire game in the type of rhythm we’d like, and that’s something that’s going to come,” Turner said.
Turner explained the lack of rhythm having to do with guys out from injury and a team that hasn’t played a lot together.
“I told our coaches ‘we’re usually not doing this ‘till week 14, week 15, where you’ve got a bunch of people beat up.’ We’ve had to practice a lot of different people. Obviously, we didn’t know who would be active, who wouldn’t be active late in the week. I didn’t expect Malcolm (Floyd) to be able to go…So now, you get in the game and you’re trying to create a rhythm that you create Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in practice, but if three or four of those guys didn’t participate at a high level in practice, from an offense stand point, you don’t come away with that rhythm.
“I think as we get everyone on the field practicing and working together and going through it, then in a game you’re going to create that rhythm.”
Veteran safety Bob Sanders didn’t play (knee), but Turner and Sanders are developing a timetable for his return.
Turner praised the efforts of Marcus Gilchrist, filling in for Quentin Jammer, who left the game with a tight hamstring. Turner said Jammer is week-to-week. Jacques Cesaire also left the game with a right knee sprain, which Turner said will most likely keep him out until after the bye week.
Turner added that there was some concern regarding the depth of the defensive line now with Cesaire out, but said that Corey Liuget may be able to play, depending on how he’s able to perform in practice this week after nursing a calf injury.
The Chargers will next take on the 0-3 Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium.