Friday, October 28, 2005 | San Diego continues to find a way to lose after outplaying the opposition for the better part of the game. The latest debacle: a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in a 20-17 loss at Philadelphia. Reche Caldwell’s fumble inside the “gold zone” with less than two minutes remaining added salt to a festering wound. The Chargers have lost four games by a grand total of 12 points. They could easily be 6-1 or 5-2, maybe undefeated.
On the bright side, the Bolts are still in striking distance of the Broncos and Chiefs. A victory on Sunday keeps the door open for a postseason ticket, but another setback essentially puts such aspirations on life support.
Is there solace being the best team with a losing record? A 3-4 mark is not that appalling considering an inequitable trend that provides opponents extra time to rest and prepare for the Chargers. Unlike the last three foes, Kansas City is not coming off a bye.
Hurricane Wilma moved its Week 7 game in Miami to Friday night, which equals more time to get ready for a trip to San Diego. K.C. seeks a third straight victory after playing its best all-around game of the season against the Dolphins. Since 2001 the Chiefs have been the league’s most prolific offense posting more yards, touchdowns and first downs than any other team.
Green with Envy. When discussing great NFL quarterbacks Trent Green is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same breath with Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts and Brett Favre. However, Green is now forever linked to this foursome as the only five quarterbacks in league history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Green’s 373-yard performance in Week 17 at San Diego marked his 20th 300-yard game with the Chiefs. He is the only active quarterback with a 90.0 rating or better in each of the past three seasons. Only seven QBs in NFL history have accomplished that feat. His counterpart, Drew Brees, ranks eighth in the NFL with a 91.4 passer rating and a 64.3 completion percentage.
Two-Headed Monster. A pair of explosive running backs set up a play action passing attack that gives defensive coordinators insomnia. The bona fide superstar is Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, an emerging protégé. The dynamic duo averages 127 yards rushing per game and they have scored 10 touchdowns on the ground. Holmes is a double threat ranking third on the team with 18 receptions for 182 and a TD. Linebacker Donnie Edwards is the centerpiece of San Diego’s superb set of run stoppers that allows an AFC best 76 yards per game on the ground.
Song Remains the Same. The Chargers face another defense that will stack the box to stop LaDainian Tomlinson and pressure Brees with a bonanza of blitzes. Tomlinson was completely stymied in Philly as the Chargers managed a mere 21 yards rushing. They remain among the top 10 teams in the league with an average of 130 yards rushing per game. The arrivals of top draft pick Derrick Johnson, along with veterans Patrick Surtain, Kendell Bell, Sammy Knight and Carlos Hall, was supposed to legitimize the Chiefs’ defense. Despite a strong run defense, they reside among the bottom feeders in total defense. Only the Giants and 49ers give up more yards through the air.
Passing the Torch. Tony Gonzalez continues to rewrite record books while redefining the tight end position. He broke an NFL record for tight ends with 102 receptions last year and his career-high 1,258 was the second-best total in league history. Anontio Gates appears to be the heir to Gonzo’s throne. He leads the Chargers with 33 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns.
Close Friends. The Chiefs own a small 47-42-1 advantage in this rivalry and they are 5-3 against San Diego under head coach Dick Vermeil. In 2004, the Chargers swept Kansas City for the first time since 1996 including a 24-17 truimph at the Q. Three of the last six contests between these foes were decided by a single point.
Kevin Aron is a freelance writer in San Diego and outright sports junkie. Kevin has worked in college sports information, sports agent offices and, most recently, as managing editor of DIRECTVSPORTS.com for nearly five years.