Much as their season appeared dead just a month ago after their 0-3 start, the Chiefs’ hopes for climbing back into the AFC West race looked ready to expire in the final moments of regulation play Monday night against the Chargers.
That they lived to tell about a 23-20 overtime victory at Arrowhead Stadium speaks to one of the most exciting finishes in Chiefs history.
Ryan Succop kicked the game-winning 30-yard field goal with 5:16 remaining in the extra period, setting off a raucous celebration at Arrowhead.
The Chargers were setting up for a potential game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter. San Diego was at the Chiefs’ 15 when quarterback Philip Rivers fumbled a snap.
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Andy Studebaker recovered for the Chiefs.
With the game tied 20-20 in overtime, the Chargers won the coin toss and received the kickoff. Tamba Hali sacked San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and forced him to fumble on a second-down play.
Rivers recovered but the Chargers wound up punting.
On Kansas City’s possession, Matt Cassel passed 16 yards to Steve Breaston on third and 13 to the San Diego 30. After another Chiefs first down, they set up for Succop’s winning field goal.
The Chiefs moved into a tie for first place in the AFC West with the victory. They won their fourth straight game and at 4-3 are tied with San Diego and Oakland for first place in the division.
The game wasn’t particularly well-played. Each team committed eight turnovers and combined for 19 penalties.
“It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination,’’ Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. “But at the same time I really don’t believe that matters right now to the guys.’’
The Chiefs jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter by intercepting San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers twice. But after San Diego’s Curtis Brinkley scored a touchdown on a two-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were clinging to a 20-18 lead.
Brinkley caught a pass from Rivers for the two-point conversion to tie the score at 20-20. Both plays were reviewed on video and referee Albert Riveron ruled each time that Brinkley reached the end zone.
After the Chiefs punted, Rivers came up with a huge play. On third and 18 and staring straight into a blitzing linebacker Derrick Johnson, he stepped up anyway and fired a 19-yard pass to Patrick Crayton to move the Chargers into Chiefs territory.
The Chargers were setting up for a potential game-winning field goal in the final moments when Rivers fumbled a snap. Andy Studebaker recovered for the Chiefs at their 16 with 48 seconds left.
The Chiefs then moved into San Diego territory. The Chiefs were trying to get into field goal range but Matt Cassel’s pass was intercepted by Eric Weddle and the Chargers ran out the clock, sending the game to overtime.
The Chiefs converted twice on third down and long on their first possession of the game and wound up getting a 36-yard field goal from Ryan Succop to take a 3-0 lead.
They then wasted great field position after an interception by Kendrick Lewis gave the Chiefs the ball at the San Diego 25. Dexter McCluster fumbled on the next play and the Chargers recovered.
Derrick Johnson’s interception returned the ball to Kansas City at its 23 and it took the Chiefs just four plays to move ahead 10-0. Jonathan Baldwin scored the first touchdown of his NFL career with a 39-yard touchdown catch from Matt Cassel.
In the second quarter, the Chargers broke through with the first points against the Chiefs in seven periods. Novak kicked a 44-yard field goal to cut San Diego’s deficit to 10-3.
The Chargers wasted a scoring opportunity after Cassel was sacked and fumbled. San Diego recovered at the Chiefs’ 22. The Chargers had a touchdown taken away when Antonio Gates was penalized for pass interference on safety Jon McGraw.
Novak was wide right on a 52-yard field goal attempt with 1:11 left in the half.
The Chiefs quickly moved to the San Diego 29 and Succop’s 47-yard field goal with three seconds left sent them to halftime with a 13-3 lead.
After the Chiefs went three plays and out to begin the second half, Novak cut Kansas City’s lead to 13-6 with a 44-yard field goal.
Cassel threw his second interception of the game on the Chiefs’ next possession. Baldwin deflected a pass that was caught by safety Eric Weddle, who returned it to the Chiefs’ 28. But the Chiefs held and
Novak’s third field goal, a 42-yarder, cut Kansas City’s lead to 13-9.
One more Novak field goal, this one from 26 yards, sliced the deficit to 13-12 late in the third quarter.
The Chiefs extended their lead to 20-12 on Jackie Battle’s one-yard touchdown run early in the fourth period.
San Diego 0 3 9 8 0 —20
Kansas City 10 3 0 7 3 —23
KC—FG Succop 36, 9:04.
KC—Baldwin 39 pass from Cassel (Succop kick), 2:51.
SD—FG Novak 44, 8:31.
KC—FG Succop 47, :03.
SD—FG Novak 44, 8:10.
SD—FG Novak 42, 6:01.
SD—FG Novak 26, 1:45.
KC—Battle 1 run (Succop kick), 12:01.
SD—Brinkley 2 run (Brinkley pass from Rivers), 7:11.
KC—FG Succop 30, 5:16.
Rushing—San Diego, Mathews 13-57, Brinkley 10-43, Rivers 3-1, Hester 1-1. Kansas City, Battle 19-70, Cassel 2-14, Jones 5-10, McCluster 6-0.
Passing—San Diego, Rivers 26-41-2-369. Kansas City, Cassel 19-32-2-261.
Receiving—San Diego, Mathews 6-55, Floyd 5-107, Gates 4-73, Crayton 3-50, Jackson 3-49, Brinkley 3-24, McMichael 2-11. Kansas City, Baldwin 5-82, Bowe 4-62, Breaston 3-42, McCluster 3-28, McClain 2-17, Colbert 1-19, Pope 1-11.
Missed Field Goals—San Diego, Novak 52 (WR).