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Chiefs knock Chargers out of the playoff chase

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/12/25/sports/professional/chargers/21_50_5312_23_05.txt" target="_blank">North County Times
    </a>
    By Jay Paris

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/chargersvchiefs06.jpg" class="left" alt="Larry Johnson gets tackled by Clinton Hart" />KANSAS CITY, Mo. ---- 'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the locker room, not a Charger was smiling. Despite being the holiday season, the Chargers' vanished postseason hopes produced 53 Grinches.

    "Everybody in this room," right tackle Shane Olivea said, "feels sick."

    The team's faint playoff dreams took a fatal hit Saturday when the Chargers lost 20-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs at soggy Arrowhead Stadium.

    A merry Christmas? Not for the fading Chargers (9-6), losers of two of their last three games and officially eliminated from the playoff chase because of victories by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.

    The Chargers' once-promising stretch run turned to ruin. A season that held promise dissolved into the ninth year in the past 10 in which the Chargers won't reach the Super Bowl tournament.

    The Chargers can sum up their trip to the Heartland in two words: bah humbug!

    What made Saturday's NFL glass of egg nog so sour was what the Chargers recently had accomplished. During a course of a week they pasted the undefeated Indianapolis Colts and had six players selected to the Pro Bowl.

    But all the good cheer was washed away by a persistent rain, a showing of some vocal 60,000 fans ---- counting no-shows ---- and a Chiefs offense and defense playing with resolve.

    "That's the National Football League," said Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who was restricted to 49 yards on 15 carries on the official stat sheet. "You can play a great game one week and then the next week come out and don't play so well, lose and be in the situation we are in now."

    The present shows a past which finally clipped the Chargers. Their 0-2 start and 3-4 mark near midseason caught up with a team that didn't have much room for error.

    The Chiefs (9-6) were playing for their playoff lives as well. And because of the way they performed, their postseason hopes live another day.

    For the Chargers, it was a day they would like to throw back like an undersized fish.

    "We just got beat, and it's hard to say that," center Nick Hardwick said.

    Added defensive tackle Jamal Williams: "We worked so hard all season. I can't believe we didn't play very well and didn't play well in the beginning. You can't come out that way."

    The Chiefs struck early with a heavy dose of running back Larry Johnson, as he rushed in from 4 yards on their second series; he had all 43 yards on the drive. The score was set up by Dante Hall, who exposed the Chargers' shoddy punt coverage unit with a 44-yard return.

    But the Chargers dusted themselves off and tied the game on an 18-yard pass from Drew Brees (18-of-33 for 161 yards, one touchdown, one interception) to Antonio Gates. It was Gates' fourth touchdown catch in two games this year against the Chiefs.

    The Chargers, though, did not remove that seven under their name the rest of the day. Not since Nov. 2, 2003 had the Chargers been restricted to seven points.

    "I don't know if that will happen again," Tomlinson said.

    The next time the Chargers see Johnson will come too soon. He rushed over and around the Chargers' top-ranked rush defense for 131 yards and a score on 32 carries. Johnson added 48 yards on two receptions, one for a 28-yard touchdown that will be a sports highlight-reel staple.

    Johnson caught the short second-quarter pass ---- Samie Parker had already supplied a 14-7 lead on a 42-yard reception ---- and headed toward the left sideline, where he ran over Jamar Fletcher.

    What happened?

    "Keep it moving," Fletcher told a curious reporter. "You don't talk to me any other time."

    In order, Drayton Florence, Quentin Jammer and Clinton Hart had Johnson in their sights. But they were like bugs hitting a fast-moving car's windshield, with Johnson motoring toward the end zone.

    "When you challenge (defensive backs) and give them no other option than to tackle you, they will usually go for your legs," said Johnson, who tiptoed down the sidelines. "I gave them one shoulder and one leg. I slid off one guy and then tried to see if it would work for the next guy. It happened to work."

    The Chargers trailed 20-7 at halftime, confident the second half would be better. And it started well when the Chargers marched to the Kansas City 17-yard line.

    But when a Brees offering slipped through Tomlinson's hands, it found Patrick Surtain's for a momentum-killing turnover.

    "Right there, it's kind of like, 'My goodness, what else can happen?' " Tomlinson asked.

    Not much, really. The tally stayed the same as the Chargers had trouble bringing it to a one-score game. They did advance to the Chiefs 22 in the final minutes but turned the ball over on downs after four Brees incompletions.

    Just the like season, which was incomplete for the Chargers.

    "I wish I could tell you a reason why we fell flat," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "We were running on such a high from last week, and I thought it would roll over into this week."

    Instead, the Chargers rolled over as their playoff hopes went dead.
     

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