Source: USA Today
Well as far as opening acts go, the Chargers' was all wet.
In a downpour from the sky and a tsunami of mental and physical mistakes, the Chargers trucked home from soggy Kansas City with a 21-14 defeat.
"We can't play the way we did on all three phases," linebacker Stephen Cooper said. "We had a lot of opportunities to win the game."
But good luck with that after getting shredded for a 56-yard scoring run, a 94-yard scoring punt return and an uneven performance from the offense, which included a critical fumble by rookie running back Ryan Mathews.
The Chargers saw their 11-game, regular-season winning streak go up in the smoke of BBQ heaven, Kansas City.
"This team has a long way to go," quarterback Philip Rivers said.
They go home and will welcome the Jaguars on Sunday to get back on the winning track.
But the first go-around was hardly comforting to an organization which said it has moved on from unsigned Pro Bowlers Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson. It's an organization with a coach in Norv Turner who said this team could be the best one he's coached here.
If so, Charger Nation eagerly waits to see proof of that.
The proof Monday night was in the puddles of Arrowhead Stadium.
"Uncharacteristic mistakes will always get you," Cooper said. "Those were things you never saw during last year's 11-game winning streak. We have to play smart, disciplined football and we didn't do that. That's why Kansas City won the game."
The Chargers had chances, but seemed to misstep at the most inappropriate times.
"That's definitely what happened," receiver Malcom Floyd said. "We have talent all over, but we shot ourselves in the foot with a couple huge mistakes."
— Coach Norv Turner said it was inexperience, not lack of talent, which lead to so many special-teams mistakes Monday night.
"We didn't tackle very well," he said after the Chiefs collected 219 return yards and a score. "There's a seriousness you have to have and we've got good young guys in there. But some of them are on their first time (on special teams). They just have things to learn."
— Turner is confident the Chargers can put this loss behind them. "We're still a confident group," he said. "We fought through some trouble and gave ourselves a chance, but we just didn't convert. Now we'll go back, fix what went wrong and continue to get better."
— As bad as the Chargers played, they had four shots inside the Chiefs' 10-yard-line.
"We gave ourselves a chance, but we couldn't get it done," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We made too many mistakes that ultimately hurt us. I thought we were going to pull through late, but we fell short.
— With exits of so many respected players this offseason, the Chargers had a new look among their captains. TE Antonio Gates, C Nick Hardwick, RB Darren Sproles, CB Quentin Jammer and LS David Binn are first-time captains. Rivers and ILB Stephen Cooper are returning captains.
— The Chargers are looking at their first home blackout in 48 consecutive games. Still more than 8,000 tickets remain for Sunday's home opener against the Jaguars.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
— WR Legedu Naanee is supposed to help replaced unsigned WR Vincent Jackson. He looked shaky at times, but also clicked with Philip Rivers for a 59-yard scoring pass. He had a game-high 110 receiving yards on five receptions.
— TE Antonio Gates was on his game as he got open and was a punishing runner after making his catches. He had five catches for 76 yards.
— SS Darrell Stuckey, fifth-round pick, was being touted as a potential starter through the early stages of camp. But he was slowed by injuries and ended up being inactive on Monday.
— OT Brandyn Dombrowski wasn't exposed in making his first start at left tackle. Dombrowski has replaced the unsigned Marcus McNeill.
— OLB Shawne Merriman (Achilles' tendon) was a game-day inactive. He hopes to make his debut on Sunday against the Jaguars.
REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS
PASSING OFFENSE: C — QB Philip Rivers won't store this video away for safe keeping. While he wasn't horrible, Rivers was but 22-of-39 for 298 yards. But he was nowhere near his usual accurate stuff; it was raining quite hard throughout most the game. A few drops, and the passing game didn't run as smoothly as we had become accustomed to. The pass protection was pretty good before a loud crowd, with only two sacks. That said, Rivers was often moving his feet to get from harm's way.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C — OK is about as good as it gets here - and the Chargers didn't race up the draft board to snag Ryan Mathews to be OK. He showed flashes of his hard-nosed running - the running lanes weren't overly wide. But it was his fumble in the second quarter which led to the Chiefs scoring a touchdown three plays later. Surprised Mike Tolbert wasn't used more near the goal line.
PASS DEFENSE: B — Secondary held up, although when Matt Cassel is providing the passes there isn't much to stop - he finished with 68 passing yards. Antoine Cason held up well at cornerback. No pass rush, but that is not a surprise - one sack here.
RUSH DEFENSE: D — The Chiefs' multiple attack gave the Chargers fits, especially when Jamaal Charles gaffed them with a zigzagging run through the Chargers defense for a 56-yard touchdown. Overall, the Chargers allowed 135 rushing yards - too much, even for a team which relies on the run so much. ILB Stephen Cooper is usually a tackling machine, but he had but three.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F — A long punt return for a score with numerous breakdowns stands out here. Ditto P Mike Scifres saving another touchdown with a last-hope tackle. Kassim Osgood, a three-time special-teams Pro Bowler, has moved on to Jacksonville and it's clear this unit missed its emotional and physical leader. This phase of the game was the biggest culprit in the team's loss.
COACHING: F — Confused, lined up wrong and befuddled are three words that come to mind. The Chargers seldom get off to a strong start under coach Norv Turner and it looks like that trend will repeat itself in 2010. Give the Chiefs credit for a spirited effort; give their fans credit for making things uncomfortable for the Chargers, especially on offense. But this four-time defending AFC West champion looked out of sorts and didn't carry much swagger or confidence. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera's charges could generate very little pressure and has to fill holes in its run defense.