Monday, October 31, 2011

MNF: Chargers at Chiefs Live Blog

This is a pivotal game in the AFC West, as the San Diego Chargers–led by Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers, who is having a rough start with 7 TDs and 9 INTs–go in two Arrowhead in an attempt to add on to its division lead.

Opening kickoff by KC's Ryan Succop goes through the end zone

Surprise? False start on SD to start the game...Arrowhead is surely one of the toughest stadiums to play in. Just look at all that red.

A 3-and-out for the Bolts to open the game in Kansas City, Missouri.

Interesting piece of information: SD's defense consists of three rookies. One of the few vets on this unit is LB Takeo Spikes. Should make for an interesting match-up with Matt Cassel's offense.
Wideout alongside All Pro Dwayne Bowe for KC is rookie Jonathan Baldwin, who is off to a great start tonight with a 17-yard catch and a first down.

Third and long converted with a 26-yard strike to Bowe, one of the top receivers in this game. That now gives Kansas City two third downs on long pass plays. Cassel is exploiting San Diego's inexperienced secondary early and often...may be the key to beating this defense without RB Jamaal Charles in the lineup.

Kansas City head coach Todd Haley uses his first timeout of the game with 9:54 to play in the opening quarter.

After a false start, Kansas City faces a 3rd & 15 without Bowe on the field. Baldwin's 10 yard reception comes up short of the first after being pushed out of bounds by SD's rookie corner Marcus Gilchrist. Sets up a field goal try.

Six minutes in to the game Succop hits from 36-yards out, giving Kansas City the early 3-0 lead.

Color analyst Jon Gruden–the former Super Bowl-winning head coach–points out what a great start KC's Brandon Flowers has had, and I'd have to agree. On the first drive he played a huge impact with coverage on Vincent Jackson and support in the run game...the very next play safety Kendrick Lewis picked off his third pass of the season.

It appears as though utility man (as I like to call him) Dexter McCluster may have fumbled the ball right back to San Diego. The ruling was a fumble, but after looking at the replay it looks as if he may have been down by contact.

Play is being reviewed after a KC challenge

Oh my, ruling stands as a Kansas City fumble–Chargers ball. I agree with Mike Tirico, Gruden and Ron Jaworski, though. Looked like McCluster was down...not enough evidence? Psh, definitely down by contact.
First completion for Rivers on 3rd & 9 to Patrick Crayton for a SD first down.

Next play he overthrows Jackson deep down the field and the interception is DROPPED by Flowers. Easy pick there, I must have praised him too quickly.

Running back Ryan Mathews doesn't give up too easily. More poor tackling by KC, seems to be a theme around the NFL this season.

ALMOST FORGOT--Mike Tolbert is inactive tonight (maybe I should pick a different photo to use, hmmm).

Third & 4 deep in KC territory. Perhaps Rivers should get the ball to Antonio Gates or Malcom Floyd.
Kansas City's crowd has taken over the game already after Rivers' second interception of the game on the third down play (LB Derrick Johnson)...two drives for SD, two Rivers interceptions–gives him 11 on the season

Not the Rivers I'm used to, he threw 13 picks all of last season, and just nine the year before that. It was tipped at the line (unlucky) but a costly mistake nonetheless. Missed out on three points there.

Costly mistake with a helmet-to-helmet hit, looked accidental, but will tack on 15 more for KC...setting up Matt Cassel's 39-yard bomb to BALDWIN for the touchdown reception. The young striker went up and caught the pass at its highest point, over the SD defender. Gives KC a 10-0 lead nearing the end of the first. Rivers is irate, pacing the sideline.
First KO we've seen returned so far tonight, but Richard Goodman fails to reach the 20-yard line.

"Jaws" argues the hit on the "defenseless" receiver, which is a new rule this year that you cannot have contain with a defenesless receiver's head. I agree to an extent, with Jaws, but helmet-to-helmet hits are dangerous, thus the reason why Commissioner Roger Goodell is attempting to crackdown. other news, another false start for SD's o-line. Fans at Arrowhead are alive and well, as expected.

With Kris Dielman out of the lineup for the Bolts, keep your eye on Kansas City's Tamba Hali. What a scary pass rusher. He has been the reason for both of San Diego's false starts, and just now drew a holding call on Marcus McNeil, SD's left tackle.

---End of the first---

San Diego has controlled the clock throughout the first quarter (17 plays, 8:04 for SD; 14 plays, 6:56 for KC), but has been outgained by Cassel and Co. (5/8, 106 yards, 1 TD).

Two turnovers for the Bolts have been key to the Chiefs' success. Another failed third down conversion (1/4) to start second quarter for SD, giving the ball back to Kansas City with Mike Scifres' second punt of the evening...his first punt traveled 63 yards.

Can't agree more with Gruden's last statement (shocker, I know)'s time for Kansas City to drop the hammer and put the Bolts away. Can't let up and make any mistakes, or Rivers will make. you. pay.

Great field position for San Diego after a 52-yard KC punt. If Rivers can't capitalize on this opportunity, he should be prepare for the worst. Cassel has been picking the secondary apart so far tonight.
Oops, scratch that. Stupid 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty called on the receiving team. He ran up and hit a KC player from behind AFTER that play was whistled dead. Dumb penalty committed by a player just signed off the practice squad earlier today. Drive will now start at the 28, rather than the 43-yard line for Rivers.

And we finally have an Antonio Gates signing, catching a 27-yard strike from Rivers. It's his 14th reception of the season after missing most of the season with injury.

It's not often you see this happen, but KC's Flowers drew an offensive pass interference penalty after an overthrow from Rivers in the end zone. This offense has been off-rhythm all night, and they are forced to take their first timeout, facing a 3rd and 21.
Kicker Nick Novak is now 12 for 12 this season with a successful 44-yard field goal try. Another failed third down conversion for Rivers and Co...1/5 on the night now.

Interesting. I had no idea that Matt Cassel played on special teams during his days at USC. Obviously I was aware that he hadn't gotten to play much at quarterback because of Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, but it's pretty cool that he went out and played on the kick-off team during some games. He was taken in the seventh round of the 2005 draft by his original team, the New England Patriots.

The 29-year old is in his third season as Kansas City's starting signal caller, as he and his crew just went on a three-and-out drive. Rivers should be set up with decent field position, looking to tie it up halfway through the second quarter of play.

Rivers has slowly, but surely, been quieting this Kansas City crowd with three straight completions. Offensive line has been giving him plenty of time in the pocket on this drive.

But he just can't catch a break. Safety John McGraw stripped Mathews of the ball and Kendrick Lewis jumped on it. Kansas City ball.
Mistakes. Mistakes. Mistakes. Just when San Diego had taken control, the momentum went back over to the home team.

The veteran Thomas Jones has been relatively quiet this season (185 yards on 58 carries, 0 TDs), and that carry was just his third of the game.

Cassel is hit by Travis Laboy, ball comes out but is ruled incomplete, not a fumble, bringing up fourth down. But Norv Turner has decided to challenge the ruling. After watching the replay it could be reversed, but I wouldn't expect it to be overruled (not enough evidence to overturn the incompletion).

Ruling reversed by officials. Say whaaaaa?! It was a bang-bang play and could've gone either way, but despite the questionable overturn, I do believe he made the right call after the review. San Diego gets the ball at KC's 22. If Rivers can't finish the deal and get the ball in the end zone, I would be worried. Mathews carries the ball in to the red zone on first down, where the SD Chargers are 24th in the league this season (11 for 24).

A third offensive PI call is made on TE Antonio Gates, negating a touchdown after his impressive catch. I didn't see where the interference was made, but it bumps back SF regardless.

Linebacker Derrick Johnson (INT earlier in game gets to Rivers and brings him down for a sack on second down, avoiding a potential Mathews block. Third and 22 for SD, as Mathews is brought down short.

ANOTHER Charger penalty (holding on a screen pass to Mathews), brings them back 10 yards and now 3rd & 32. That now makes 21 penalties for the Chargers in the last six quarters of play as we hit the two minute warning.

Sloppy game offensively for San Diego...they may be winning the T.O.P. battle, and be out-gaining Kansas City, plus more offensive plays. But eight first half penalties for a total of 80 yards has surely killed any rhythm Rivers' offense may have had. Not to mention the three turnovers. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

A 50-yard attempt up-coming for Novak, made from 44 yards earlier...he missed it this time, had the distance but was a foot or two wide right. Kansas City takes over with 1:11 to play in the first half and one TO left.
KC's first 1st down of the second quarter came with under :20 to play as they attempt to get in to field goal range just before the half...which Succop nails from 47 yards out with :03 remaining.

13-3 Kansas City at the half at Arrowhead. Less-than-impressive two-minute drill, but it gets the job done for Haley's crew as they extended the lead just before break.

---expect Rivers to come back out in the second half with motivation---

Ew, now we get to listen to Chris "Boomer" Berman for 10 minutes during the halftime show. Just lovely.

Going to try and update this a little less in the second half, and just add more insight when I do update it. Rather than do a play-by-play type of deal like I did in the first half. Too much type to read from the first two quarters. I don't know about you, but I'm hoping for more offensive explosion from San Diego in the second half, rather than mistake after mistake. Get your stuff together, Rivers!

–Second half–

No surprise here, another false start penalty to open San Diego's opening drive of the second half after a KC punt. Backs them up deep in their own territory, and the penalty was the team's 10th of the game.

Rivers finally opening up the vertical passing game with a wobbly pass to Gates. It was right on target, though. He's over 200 yards now, and counting.

Rivers has been hit twice all game, and sacked just once (D. Johnson). He has done a spectacular job at getting rid of the ball, checking it down to his backs just before the defensive line closes in on him. Considering Dielman is out, SD's line has done a decent job.

Nick Novak just barely squeezes that ball in between the uprights from 44 yards out. San Diego has now had the ball inside the KC 34 on five separate occasions tonight, and only has six points (two FGs) to show for it. 13-6 KC with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter. Cassel will be getting the ball back.

Baldwin has been a huge asset to this offense, as his 6'4'' body has made for a great downfield target opposite Bowe. If it wasn't for the great success of quarterbacks Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and wideout A.J. Green, I would say Baldwin is a top pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year so far this season. So many rookies stepping it up this season. Great to see, no doubt.

And Cassel makes his first mistake of the game (aside from the fumble, I guess) as Eric Weddle picks him off after a deflection.

San Diego starts at the Chiefs' 33, sixth time they have been inside KC's 34 tonight. Will Rivers finally capitalize on such as great opportunity?
Chiefs' defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel put the pressure on Rivers, forcing him to overthrow a double-covered Gates on third down. San Diego is now 2/9 on third downs tonight, bringing on Novak for the third time, hitting from 42. Kansas City up just four now.

I was expecting plenty more offense tonight, but instead just one touchdown between these two teams with six minutes to play in the third. Hmph!

McCluster has done too much dancing around out of the backfield tonight. He's shown great speed and explosiveness on kick returns, but hasn't managed any yards rushing on five carries. Give him a couple looks in the screen game, and maybe he will break a long one.

Still waiting for Rivers to break-out the gun tonight. Maybe on this drive? Only down four and solid field position (again).

Rivers has shown some inaccuracy tonight, overthrowing several targets and throwing a couple additional passes a bit high to his receivers...but that quick slant to Malcom Floyd picked him up 37 yards and a first down in KC's red zone.

Earlier I said that KC hasn't touched Rivers that often, but that may be because they have him running for his life instead...

He hasn't received much help, a holding call on the o-line was just declined, bringing up yet another fourth down and a very short 26-yard FG attempt. He splits it through and that's now seven times inside KC's 35, and only four field goals to show for it.

Scuffling in the center of the field after the kick, but no punches or flags thrown. This is what I call the wild, wild West...two teams scrapping for points in this one in a battle for division supremacy.

I get excited every time McCluster touches that ball on kick-offs, though he has yet to break-free for a long TD run tonight.

End of the third qtr now, with Cassel and the Chiefs' O driving. Two straight positive plays, almost seems like the first time all half that that has happened. Lets hope for less penalties (16 combined in first three qtrs) and more TDs in the final quarter of play. With it being a 13-12 game, I do believe the final quarter will turn in to a shoot-out between Cassel and Rivers.

---Quarter 4---

The flea-flicker attempt goes for just three yards as San Diego put the pressure on Cassel. He had no time to look deep and was forced to dump the ball off to bring up third down.

Cassel used his legs to create something out of nothing, converting the 3rd and 3 with his legs. The team's first rushing first down of the game...the next play Jackie Battle ran 11 yards for rushing FD No. 2. Now inside the SD 30, Cassel is starting to finally look like an NFL quarterback again. I was beginning to worry. Injury timeout for SD's Quentin Jammer, who's been around for ages it seems...he's actually just 32-years old.
Jackie Battle breaks through the first line of defense on a counter and is nearly untouched to the end zone. For now, ruled a touchdown for Kansas City. But due to the new rule put in place this season, the play will automatically be reviewed upstairs, and there's a chance he could be ruled down by contact just short of the goal line. Either way, Battle has put Kansas City in great position.

Battle, taking the place of Charles after his season-ending injury, has yet to score this season on 45 rush attempts. The 28-year old was undrafted out of Houston, and has been a part of the KC organization since 2007 after being cut by Dallas prior to the start of the season.

The call has been over-ruled, and the ball will be placed on the 1-yard line, first and goal. First play, though, Battle comes right back and launches himself over the line for his first touchdown of 2011, third of his career. Almost Walter Payton-esque on the play. The extra point gives KC an eight-point lead, 20-12 with 12:01 left.

Rivers does a fantastic job at keeping the play alive after nearly being knocked down by his own lineman/Tamba Hali's arm, hits Patrick Crayton on the right side of the field who turns in to a solid gain. McGraw comes out of the game due to an apparent injury–looks like he's just shaken up. Donald Washington has replaced him at safety. McGraw, replacing second-year safety Eric Berry after he was lost for the season, has five tackles and a FF in the game.

Hali beat McNeil on the outside and dragged Rivers down by the shoelace! What an athletic specimen is Hali. Pro Bowler last year, Hali led the AFC with 14.5 sacks. That's five on the season for him.

Rivers once again extends the play and hits his man down the field for 27 yards. This is exactly why it's so exciting watching him play. He's a gun-slinger who just doesn't give up on plays. He can move in the pocket very well and keeps his eyes down the field in the process. I think I may be feeling a 4th qtr comeback...the three-time Pro Bowler has 13 of them in his eight-year career.

Looked like another overthrown receiver, but Rivers led backup running back Curtis Brinkley perfectly who is brought down inside the KC 2-yard line. Brinkley cleared the line, exposing the ball as he reached over the goal-line. Ruling on field is a touchdown before the ball was knocked loose, and watching the replay it's obvious he cleared the line long before it was knocked loose.

Brinkley's first career reception on one play, and then his first career touchdown the following play. The two-point conversion is currently being reviewed upstairs (it was ruled good), as it's unclear whether or not SD cleared the plane. If it's confirmed, San Diego would tie the game at 20. If not, KC would retain a one-point lead halfway through the quarter.

It was, in fact, confirmed upstairs. It was Brinkley once again who caught the two-pointer. The play capped a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ate up over four minutes of the clock. Tied at 20 with over seven minutes remains after McCluster failed to bring the kick-off past the 20-yard line.
Injury update: Quentin Jammer is battling cramps and has yet to return. Trainers are working on him on the SD sidelines, though, and he hopes to return soon.

Battle failed to convert on third and short, bringing up a three-and-out for Kansas City. Not good for the Chiefs, giving the ball back to Rivers.

More tight coverage from Brandon Flowers, although it doesn't much matter because another penalty was called against LT McNeill, illegal hands to the face up against Tamba Hali. That's the Bolts' 12th of the night, and they are now over 100 yards in penalties. #ugly

Mathews is on the sideline without his helmet in his hand, meaning he could be injured according to Mike Tirico. More amazing coverage for Flowers, who has 4 tackles and now picked up his fourth pass breakup of the night.

Rivers stays in the pocket long enough to convert a 3rd and 18 pass to Patrick Crayton. Play of the night for San Diego's offense? Looks like Brinkley is here to stay for tonight, with Mathews' return questionable (groin injury). Now under three minutes to play, and counting...SD inside KC's 30-yard line.

Brinkley picked up the first down after hurdling a San Diego defender. Coach Turner elects to run down the clock to the two minute warning. Cassel may not even get much of a chance to conduct a game-winning drive if San Diego protects the football.

San Diego may not be able to milk much time out of these two minutes (KC has two TOs remaining) unless they pick up a first down.

Kansas City has now used both timeouts after two positive run plays from San Diego. That will bring up a 3rd and very short for the Chargers. If they can convert, Cassel may not get much of a shot at all.

And Jacob Hester appears to have gotten enough to convert the 3rd and 1, due to forward progress. Kansas City can no longer stop the clock, and with a first down the Chargers could take a lot of the time out.

...RIVERS fumbled the snap and Kansas City recovers at their own 16. That is now his third turnover of the game, and it looks like KC will run the clock out and go to overtime. With two SD timeouts left, Cassel is looking to throw and completes one by the sidelines with just :32 to play. They have a shot at winning this one in regulation. Huge Rivers mistake

Controversy continues to stir in Arrowhead. Kansas City attempts to clock the ball with :16 left, but a Charger defender knocks over a KC lineman, forcing them to lose four seconds of clock. But doesn't matter because Cassel's next pass was picked off by Weddle, his second of the evening. We'll see a hail mary, but I think we will, in fact, head to overtime.
---Overtime---say what?

This is both SD's and KC's first OT game of the 2011 season. Chargers win toss, giving Rivers the first shot at redemption.

Hali's domination continues against SD's left side, this time guard Jeremy Clary, stripping Rivers of the ball and then sacking him back at the 12. Brinkley gets just six on third down, forcing a three-and-out. Yet another tackle from LB Johnson, his 12th of the game. McCluster will get the chance to return Scifres' booming punt, making a few guys miss on the return. A block in the back will put KC back 10 yards to its own 20.

It's about time Kansas City gets the ball to McCluster coming out of the backfield, picking up 12 yards on the catch and a first down. Cassel uses his first of two OT timeouts.

Three McCluster catches for 28 yards in the overtime period, resulting in two KC first downs. The Chiefs are now just a couple of decent plays away from field goal range. We now have a Steve Breaston sighting! Cassel hits him with a short crossing pattern who turns it in to a large gain and a KC first down to the 30-yard line. A couple run plays with Battle should be upcoming for Kansas City, and we could see Succop on the field pretty soon here to set-up a potential game-winner as Battle runs the ball up to the 21.

One last Thomas Jones carry sets up the potential game-winner for Succop, who is 2/2 tonight. Turner has one more timeout and uses it to "ice the kicker," although I don't believe that ever works. Just over five minutes to play as Succop attempts the 30-yarder...he splits the uprights for the win, exactly a year after he hit another game-winner from 35 yards out to beat the Buffalo Bills 13-10 in overtime.

Two Rivers interceptions, a Rivers fumbled snap late in regulation, 12 penalties for 105 yards and a blown call that negated an Antonio Gates' touchdown reception stopped San Diego from putting the feisty Chiefs away.

Rivers falls just short of capturing his 60th regular season win as San Diego's starting quarterback (instead he loses his 28th) as the Kansas City Chiefs extend their win streak to four games after starting the season at 0-3.

Sloppy game, but Cassel got the job done. Goodnight fellas!

Photo credit: US Presswire/AP Photos

1 comment:

  1. Watch Kansas Chiefs live! Get your Chiefs tickets in advance and avoid the long line.


Tell us what you think!