Knowing a loss Sunday would likely end their playoff dreams, the Chargers did what we have become accustomed to them doing in December: dominated the competition.
In a must-win contest against a Chiefs team they trailed by two games in the division, the Chargers owned all three phases of the game in a 31-0 destruction. It was the type of game that reminded people just how dangerous this squad could be when playing it's A game.
San Diego took full advantage of Chiefs QB Matt Cassel (appendectomy) missing the contest, making life a nightmare for replacement Brodie Croyle. Croyle completed just 7-of-17 passes for 40 yards, and the Bolts sacked him four times. They also forced K.C. to go 0-for-11 on third down. The run "D" also showed up, limiting the league's No. 1 rushing offense to a season-low 48 yards. In all, the Chargers allowed a mere 67 yards of offense, the second-fewest given up in franchise history.
It wasn't just the defense that came ready to play, though. San Diego ran for a season-best 207 yards on Sunday, took care of business on third down and in the red zone and held the ball for 40 minutes.
The PFW Spin
After a shocking collapse against the Raiders the week before, the Chargers were in danger of letting the season slip away. But they rallied the troops on Sunday in a game they had to have and now are just one game out in the AFC West.
Sure, the Bolts lucked out that they didn't have to face Cassel, but it might not have mattered who was playing QB for the Chiefs Sunday. The "D" limited K.C. to a miniscule 1.6 yards per play and gave up just five first downs all day. No matter what the Chiefs did, it didn't work. San Diego, meanwhile, solidified its ranking as the No. 1 defense in the NFL.
Offensively, the Chargers may have been missing TE Antonio Gates (foot), but the re-emergence of two guys expected to be major contributors prior to the season made up the difference. RB Ryan Mathews, the team's first-round pick in April, couldn't even get on the field the week before but ran well Sunday, picking up 65 yards and a TD on 16 carries. WR Vincent Jackson, meanwhile, returned from a calf injury, and while his numbers were nothing special, his presence helped open up the offense for guys like Malcom Floyd to have big days.
The Bolts still need Kansas City to lose one more time to draw even in the division, but they at least now have the blueprint for how to completely control a game. With games left against the 49ers, Bengals and Broncos, chances are good that they will win out and finish 10-6. With a little help, they could be playing postseason football yet again.