Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

November 2, 2012

Chargers light up floundering Chiefs

SAN DIEGO — Norv Turner is off the hot seat, at least for 10 days.

Romeo Crennel is perched squarely on it.

Antonio Gates caught a 14-yard yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers on the game's opening drive to snap a streak of six straight quarters without a touchdown and the San Diego Chargers went on to a 31-13 victory over the staggering Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

Turner had been heavily criticized by fans after the Chargers (4-4) blew double-digit, second-half leads in losses to New Orleans and Denver, and then lost 7-6 at Cleveland on Sunday.

Still, at the start of halftime, some fans in one end zone unfurled a big yellow banner that read: "Mr. Spanos, please fire A.J. & Norv."

Team president Dean Spanos decided in January to bring back both Turner and general manager A.J. Smith even though the Chargers missed the playoffs for the second straight year and have only one postseason win in four seasons.

Spanos probably isn't inclined to fire the embattled Turner in midseason, although a loss to the Chiefs would have been embarrassing.

"We didn't talk about it specifically, but we want to win for him every week," Rivers said. "You play for a lot of things, but we play for our coach. I think that has been evident over the years when we have struggled."

Rivers, who looked shaky during the losing streak, did his part by completing 18 of 20 passes, or 90 percent, for 220 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. It was the sixth time in NFL history a quarterback had completed 90 percent or more of his passes, and tied Steve Young for fifth on that list.

Rivers also threw a 13-yard TD pass to Malcom Floyd early in the fourth quarter.

"It was good to play well but more importantly, it was good to win a game. We needed a win in the worst way," Rivers said. "Game like this, wins like this can jump start us."

The Chiefs (1-7) committed four more turnovers and lost their fifth straight game. Running back Jamaal Charles left with a neck injury in the fourth quarter.

"Similar to what's been happening throughout the course of this year, we shoot ourselves in the foot," Crennel said. "We're in a hole and we have to fight our way out. ... It wasn't very good overall, but we're going to keep coaching and keep fighting and play our way out of it."

The Chiefs' four turnovers ran their NFL-high mark to a staggering 29, which have led to 104 points.

"We fought hard, played hard, but at the end of the game it came down to the turnovers," said quarterback Matt Cassel, whose fumble and interception both led to a Chargers TD.

The Chiefs still haven't led in regulation this season. Their only victory came when Ryan Succop kicked the winning field goal against the Saints in overtime.

With the Chiefs trailing 17-6, Cassel fumbled as he was sacked by Jarret Johnson in the end zone and Shaun Phillips recovered for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. On the next drive, Cassel's high pass deflected off Dexter McCluster's hands and was intercepted by Demorrio Williams, who returned it 59 yards for a touchdown.

"I don't know If someone stepped in front of him and tipped the ball but thank God I was there to make the play," Williams said.

In the loss to New Orleans, Williams had an interception return for a touchdown but it was nullified after rookie Melvin Ingram was flagged for a late hit on Drew Brees.

Williams, who played for the Chiefs the last four seasons, forced a fumble in the first quarter.

The Chiefs had six turnovers in a 37-20 home loss to the Chargers on Sept. 30.

In just 2 minutes, 9 seconds, the Chargers' defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense has in 10 quarters.

Gates' first-quarter score was San Diego's first touchdown since the star tight end caught an 11-yard pass in the first half against Denver on Oct. 15. That score gave San Diego a 24-0 lead, but Peyton Manning rallied the Broncos to a 35-24 win.

The Chargers got only two field goals from Nick Novak in a 7-6 loss at Cleveland on Sunday, their third straight defeat.

After San Diego scored on the opening drive, Kansas City went on a 17-play drive, converting four third downs, but Dwayne Bowe fumbled after a 10-yard reception. Williams caused the fumble and Quentin Jammer recovered.

Bowe's fumble set up Novak's 25-yard field goal with 9:10 left in the second quarter.

After Kansas City decided not to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the San Diego 31, Succop kicked a 49-yard field goal with 2:51 left before halftime.

The Chargers had a third-and-goal from the 1 in the closing seconds of the half when Rivers was intercepted by Eric Berry.

Succop had a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter.

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