KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs could be without their top two pass rushers for a while after Tamba Hali sprained his right ankle and Justin Houston sprained his elbow in a 41-38 loss to San Diego on Sunday.
Neither player was in the locker room after the game, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid said both of them will have MRI exams on Monday.
Kansas City plays the Denver Broncos, who beat them a week ago, in their crucial return game at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday.
“I’m not making excuses,” Reid said. “The next guy has to come in and step up.”
The Chargers (5-6) similarly could be without top running back Ryan Mathews for a while after he left the game with a hamstring injury.
San Diego coach Mike McCoy did not disclose the severity of the injury after the game, though Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead fared well in relief.
Houston was hurt while chasing down a play when Chiefs safety Eric Berry collided with his right arm. Houston was eventually helped off the field, his right arm kept motionless, and helped to the locker room in the waning minutes of the first half.
Hali rolled his ankle while trying to get into the Chargers backfield earlier in the second quarter. He was helped from the field, loaded onto a cart and also taken to the locker room.
“It’s hard to think about it during the game because you have to move on to the next play, but it’s always tough losing that caliber of players,” Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “We have players that are backing them up that are more than capable of doing the job.”
Still, Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses aren’t quite as effective as Houston and Hali, and their absence was felt in the second half. Philip Rivers had plenty of time and wound up throwing for 392 yards and three touchdowns, the last one to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds left in the game.
It was the eighth and final lead change in a wild game.
“We just have to buckle down,” Chiefs safety Eric Berry said. “You don’t have those guys coming off the edge with that relentless force. We have guys who can step in and play, but we just know as a defense and a secondary we have to bring it.”
Houston came into the game third in the NFL with 11 sacks, while Hali was tied for fifth with nine. Hali needed two more to pass Art Still (73) for the third most in franchise history.
The Chiefs, who had been healthy most of the season, already were playing without starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito because of a knee injury. Allen Bailey replaced him in the lineup.
Right guard Jon Asamoah (calf and shoulder) and right tackle Eric Fisher (shoulder) also were inactive after getting hurt in last week’s loss to Denver. Asamoah was replaced by Geoff Schwartz and Fisher by Donald Stephenson in the starting lineup.
“This is the National Football League. So when people go down, others step up,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We didn’t execute the defense as well as we should have. They have some good players on offense and they capitalized every time we made a little bit of a mistake.”