Chargers' Rivers: 'This is the worst day ever'
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)
It didn't take a professional lip-reader for the message to come across.
''This,'' Rivers said on the sideline, ''is the worst day ever.''
Only for the Chargers.
It was awfully good for the Chiefs.
After the Chargers' quarterback fumbled a snap deep in Chiefs territory with 48 seconds left in regulation, the teams went to overtime Monday night, and Ryan Succop's 30-yard field goal gave Kansas City an improbable 23-20 victory and a share of the AFC West lead.
Kansas City (4-3) became the first team in NFL history to lose its first three games and share at least part of a division lead after four more. The Chiefs, tied with the Chargers and idle Oakland Raiders, also became the first team since the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000 to win four straight games after losing its first three.
''Our guys had a common belief that we were going to come out on top,'' Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. ''We made some mistakes - everybody, coaches and players alike - but we were able to overcome it by sticking together and not giving up.''
The Chargers had trailed the whole way before Rivers marched them downfield in the closing minutes of regulation. With first-and-10 at the 15 and just 48 seconds on the clock, Rivers fumbled the snap and the Chiefs' Andy Studebaker clawed under the pile to retrieve the ball.
The Chargers won the toss but failed to pick up a first down, and Cassel calmly led Kansas City right down field. Succop's field goal with 5:16 left gave the Chiefs a stunning victory.
''I haven't had one in years,'' Rivers said of his fumbled snap. ''It's unfortunate. I dropped it. This one is rough. You blow it on a play that never should have happened.''
Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson remembers hearing Studebaker say, ''Guys, it's not over.''
How fitting that he would be the one to recover the fumble moments later.
''We were saying, 'Don't quit,''' Studebaker said. ''You never quit, even if it looks ugly. If you quit every time something looks ugly, you miss an opportunity to do something special.''
Boy, was this one ever ugly.
Rivers wound up throwing for 369 yards, but he also had two interceptions to go with the big fumble.
The teams combined for eight turnovers, matching the most in an NFL game this season. The Chargers were called for 12 penalties worth 105 yards in a gruesome game on Halloween night.
One that looked pretty in the end to Kansas City.
The Chiefs lost their first two games by a combined 89-10, and some fans were calling for Haley to be fired. They dropped to 0-3 after losing at San Diego, but Haley thought that Kansas City had turned the corner - superstitious by nature, he hasn't shaved his beard since that game.
Kansas City got on track by beating division doormats Minnesota and Indianapolis, and then romped to a 28-0 win over Oakland last week, before its big win over the Chargers.
''It was a great victory for us. What an unbelievable environment,'' Cassel said. ''With the turnover late in the game, we had another opportunity, and we took advantage of it in overtime.''
The Chiefs didn't look like they'd need overtime early on.
Succop kicked a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter, and Cassel hooked up with Jonathan Baldwin a few minutes later for a 39-yard touchdown reception, the rookie wide receiver's first TD.
Rivers tossed two early interceptions, one week after throwing two fourth-quarter picks in a disheartening loss to the New York Jets. The turnovers spoiled a couple of promising drives, and Succop's second field goal just before halftime made it 13-3.
The Chargers' defense kept them in the game in the third quarter, picking off Cassel and holding the Chiefs to two three-and-outs. Nick Novak kicked three field goals, drawing the Chargers within 13-12, but their inability to get into the end zone would cost them dearly.
Kansas City marched 74 yards in 10 plays early in the fourth quarter, and Jackie Battle finished off the drive by leaping over the pile from a yard out for a 20-12 lead.
Rivers answered by directing a lengthy drive that Curtis Brinkley capped with a 2-yard touchdown run. Rivers then hit Brinkley in the flat and he just barely got the ball over the goal line for the two-point conversion, which the officials upheld after a video review.
It was the last positive moment of the game for San Diego.
''That was a hard-fought game. You've got to give credit to the Chargers,'' Studebaker said. ''They played a really, really tough game and executed well. It wasn't pretty on both sides of the ball, but we kept fighting. Both teams were fighting hard.''
Notes: Kansas City had four video reviews go against it. ... The Chargers signed LB Bront Bird from the practice squad and released WR Bryan Walters before the game. ... Chiefs S Jon McGraw left with a shoulder injury. ... San Diego CB Quentin Jammer left the game in the second half with cramps and RB Ryan Mathews left with a groin injury.