I knew the Kansas City Chiefs would be a much better team this season, due in part to to picking up playmakers like Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones, but did not — even for a second — expect them to beat the San Diego Chargers.
The Chiefs’ defense wasn’t great, but they were good enough. Philip Rivers still threw for just under 300 yards and two touchdowns, and Ryan Matthews chipped in with 75 yards on the ground, but the Chiefs held strong when it was necessary.
They forced Matthews to fumble, which Brandon Carr recovered and put the Kansas City offense in perfect position to tie the game up at seven. They also allowed the Chargers to convert only 26 percent of their third-down attempts and got into Rivers’ head enough to cause some bad decisions.
Oh, and the Chiefs’ defense held strong against against the potent Chargers’ offense on four consecutive downs within the six-yard line with under a minute left to win the game. That was actually probably the best thing the Chiefs did all night and worth mentioning quickly.
They had already gotten into Rivers’ head earlier in the game, and forced three incomplete passes from him at the end of the game. Darren Sproles also carried the ball for a two-yard loss, backing the Chargers up from the Chiefs four-yard line to the six.
Outside of the Chiefs’ goal-line stand, the best play had to have been the rookie McCluster’s 94-yard punt return for a touchdown — which proved to be the difference in the game.
At first, everyone in Kansas City had to be wondering why in the world the rookie would field a punt, in the rain, from the six-yard line — something usually frowned upon as punt returners are told not to field the ball within the 10. But no one was questioning his decision as he raced past the punter and into the endzone to put the Chiefs up by 14 points.
Another rookie, Javier Arenas, chipped in a great deal on special teams by averaging around 20 yards per kick return and 30 yards on two punt returns. He didn’t score or have any huge plays, but he consistently set the offense up with good field position and showed great promise for the future.
Matt Cassel and the Kansas City offense — outside of Jamaal Charles who was electric as always will 11 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown — has a ton of work to do if the Chiefs are going to ride this huge win and try to do something this season, but the defense and special team don’t have a whole lot to worry about. If they can stop the Chargers, they should be able to stop nearly any offense in the league.