We will never know if the Kansas City Chiefs would have gone on to tie or maybe even win their first game of the season in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Chargers in San Diego.
What we do know, however, is that Kansas City QB Matt Cassel must have thought Chargers’ defenseman Eric Weddle was wearing a red uniform Sunday afternoon at the Q.
Cassel’s badly-timed interception late in the game allowed the Chargers to escape with a 20-17 win over their AFC West rivals, a game in which San Diego entered as a commanding 15-point favorite. So much for playing the game on paper.
While they didn’t push the Chargers around the field, the Chiefs by far had their best game of the season in Week 3, having been outscored 89-10 in blowout losses at home to Buffalo and in Detroit to start the season. Still, the record says winless.
Down 20-17, and after stopping Philip Rivers on a QB sneak on fourth-and-one late in the game, the Chiefs looked to be at least in contention for a game-tying field goal or more, then disaster struck.
Weddle, San Diego’s $40 million man, grabbed an ill-advised short throw from Cassel around midfield on the second play of the drive with just under a minute left, allowing the Chargers to grab the victory and a tie for first-place in the AFC West (Oakland).
Afterwards, Cassel told the media, “It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, but as we move forward, we can build off this game.” Yes, that is something the Chiefs can do.”
In explaining the game’s biggest error for the Chiefs, Cassel noted, “It (interception) was a screen pass. You try to keep your head downfield. When I swung back around I thought I could get it in there to Dexter. Obviously it’s one I’d like to have back.”
As for the Chargers, who some “experts” have pegged as a potential Super Bowl team this year, there is much, much work to be done.
A pair of Rivers (24-of-38, 266 yards) interceptions nearly doomed the team, and two balls that could have easily been picked off, also may have spelled trouble for the Bolts, who played without All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. San Diego also fumbled and recovered two of its fumbles on the day.
San Diego held leads of 7-0 and 20-10, but the Chiefs would not go away on this early fall afternoon in front of a little over 62,000 fans.
Ryan Mathews had a strong performance out of the backfield for the Bolts (98 yards on 21 carries), scoring a pair of TD’s.
At the end of the day, however, most everyone associated with the team admitted and knows they can play much better.
“Certainly I need to play better, and I’m going to work like crazy to do that,” Rivers told the media. “But 2-1 is what’s important.”
Like he said, that’s what is important when all is said and done.
In the meantime, with the 0-3 Miami Dolphins coming to town next weekend, San Diego will need to do a better job of demonstrating how a heavy favorite should take care of business.