Chiefs rout Charg­ers, take con­trol of AFC West race

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - By Dave Skretta As­so­ci­ated Press Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs saw their band­wagon empty dur­ing a mid­sea­son swoon, fans jump­ing ship al­most as quickly as Ka­reem Hunt hit­ting a hole or Tyreek Hill speed­ing to the end zone.

They never lost faith in each other, though.

The Chiefs in­stead ral­lied to beat the Oak­land Raiders last week, set­ting up a cru­cial AFC West show­down with the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers. And in a dom­i­nant per­for­mance rem­i­nis­cent of ear­lier this sea­son, the Chiefs rolled to a 30-13 vic­tory Satur­day night to seize con­trol of the di­vi­sional race.

“It feels good to be back in this po­si­tion,” said Chiefs safety Ron Parker, who had one of the three in­ter­cep­tions thrown by the Charg­ers’ Philip Rivers. “We stuck it out as a fam­ily the last cou­ple weeks, did a good job of stay­ing to­gether. It would have been easy to fall apart.”

The only way the Chiefs can squan­der the divi­sion and au­to­matic play­off berth is by los­ing their last two games and the Charg­ers or Oak­land Raiders win­ning out.

“It felt like a play­off game,” Parker said. “This is the clos­est thing it gets to a play­off game.”

The Chiefs (8-6) got pro­duc­tion from their big­gest stars: Alex Smith threw for 231 yards and t wo t ouch­downs, Ka­reem Hunt ran for 155 yards and ac­counted for two touch­downs, Tyreek Hill hauled in a 64-yard touch­down pass and Mar­cus Peters had a hand in forc­ing three turnovers.

It all added up to an eighth straight win over the Charg­ers.

“I didn’t t hink we played our best. We have to look at our­selves and ask why,” Charg­ers coach An­thony Lynn said. “We missed tack­les. We didn’t ex­e­cute well on of­fense. We went back to some dumb penal­ties we had early in the year. We made this game big­ger than it re­ally was.”

The Charg­ers (7-7) led 13-10 early in the sec­ond half, but Rivers threw three in­ter­cep­tions — two of them to Peters — and Austin Ekeler coughed up a fum­ble down the stretch.

That ended their fourgame win streak and quite pos­si­bly their play­off hopes.

Rivers fin­ished with 221 yards pass­ing and a touch­down, but has thrown 13 in­ter­cep­tions dur­ing the Charg­ers’ los­ing streak to the Chiefs. Melvin Gor­don added 78 yards rush­ing and a score.

“We took a step back to­day,” Lynn said.

The game shaped up as a matchup of teams go­ing in op­po­site di­rec­tions: The Chiefs were 5-0 be­fore watch­ing their divi­sion lead waste away, while the Charg­ers started out 0-4 but won seven of their next nine to forge a near-win­ner-take-all di­vi­sional show­down at Ar­row­head Sta­dium.

In­stead, t he Chiefs looked like they did in their Week 3 win over the Charg­ers.

So did the Charg­ers, for that mat­ter.

The Chiefs’ de­fense, which played so salty last week against Oak­land, was buoyed by the re­turn of Peters from a one- game dis­ci­plinary sus­pen­sion in help­ing to build a 10-6 half­time lead.

Rivers even­tu­ally got on track, go­ing 5 for 5 for 88 yards on his first drive of the sec­ond half, and his 10- yard touch­down pass to trusty tight end An­to­nio Gates gave Los An­ge­les its only lead.

One that didn’t last very long.

The Chiefs an­swered with a me­thod­i­cal, 69yard scor­ing drive of their own. Hunt supplied most of the work, and he capped the drive by catch­ing Smith’s short TD toss to give the Chiefs a 17-13 lead.

“He’s s uch a well­rounded foot­ball player,” Smith said. “He’s so good in the pass­ing game, has such a good feel, which is so im­por­tant for a run­ning back.”

Two plays later, Rivers floated a pass down­field and Peters leaped up to make an easy in­ter­cep­tion, and his long re­turn set up first-and­goal at the Charg­ers 6. The Chiefs nearly turned it into an­other TD when Smith found Hunt again, but the tip of the ball hit the turf for an in­com­ple­tion.

The Chiefs’ chal­lenge failed and Harrison Butker knocked through a field goal for a 20-13 lead.

The Charg­ers’ of­fense, which had com­mit­ted just six give­aways over t he l ast nine games, coughed it up again three plays later.

Peters helped to pry loose the ball from Ekeler, and Butker tacked on a 51-yard field goal a short while for a com­fort­able cush­ion.

Rivers threw two more picks in the fourth quar­ter, giv­ing him six in two games against Kansas City this sea­son, and end­ing any hopes of Los An­ge­les mount­ing a come­back.

“We def­i­nitely wanted to put pres­sure on Philip. We know he’s a gun­slinger,” Chiefs cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis said. “He does take risks in the pass­ing game. We just hap­pened to put pres­sure on him in the front seven, guys did a great job and we came out with a lot of turnovers.”

Char­lie Riedel / AP

Kansas City Chiefs run­ning back Ka­reem Hunt (27) runs past a tackle at­tempt by Los An­ge­les Charg­ers line­backer Den­zel Per­ry­man (52) dur­ing the first half.

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