They say you don't get style points in the NFL. They're wrong. The Chargers beat the Chiefs 20-19 at Qualcomm Stadium. But, for them it wasn't enough to just beat the 1-7 Chiefs. After all the turmoil (key injuries, the 3-5 start, switching defensive coordinators), they needed to run Kansas City out of the stadium. That was the only thing that would have told Chargers fans the team is back and ready to live up to its potential.
They couldn't do it.
Instead we saw a sloppy, uninspired start and a nail-biting finish that had fans wearing powder blue uniforms reaching for the Tums. Unknown quarterback Tyler Thigpen looked like Joe Montana, leading his offense to a pair of first half touchdowns. San Diego's maligned defense missed assignments, missed tackles and missed a chance to prove it was not the worst unit in football. The Bolts offense, which had scored more points than any other team in the AFC, only scored 6 points before halftime. I don't know what Norv Turner said at the break, but a different team came out of the tunnel to start the 3rd quarter.
In what was hopefully a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the season, the defense pitched a shutout, and even got a sack for the first time in four games (OK, Thigpen ran out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage, but we'll take anything we can get). Ron Rivera's group played with more energy than it had under Ted Cottrell, and it needed to on the final series of the game. The Chiefs scored on an unbelievable catch by Tony Gonzalez with under 30 seconds to play, then Herman Edwards decided to go for 2 and the win. It worked for the Broncos, but this time the defense came through. Clinton Hart knocked Thigpen's pass away to seal the dicey win.
The top sports headlines of the day
The offense followed suit after the break, scoring 14 points in the final 30 minutes. Philip Rivers threw a pair of touchdown passes, one to Malcom Floyd, who played a tremendous game starting for the injured Chris Chambers.
So, you be the judge. Happy to finally get a win? Or scared that this was the best they could do against inferior competition?