|Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer separates the ball from Chiefs running back Shaun Draughn. The Chargers forced six Chiefs turnovers Sunday. (US Presswire)|
The Chargers proved with a 37-20 road victory that they're a contender in the AFC West. The Chiefs? They're the best garbage-time team in the league.
The Chiefs committed six turnovers and emptied Arrowhead Stadium by the fourth quarter for their third double-digit loss of the year. The bleeding, as has been the case through four weeks, started in the first quarter when Matt Cassel threw the first of his three interceptions.
Through four first quarters in 2012: Chiefs 6, Opposition 41.
Turnover margin: Chiefs an NFL-worst minus-13.
"We've got to solve it and we've got to solve it quick," Cassel said. "Turnovers have been killing us. I, myself, have to get better and take better care of the ball. Obviously, it starts with me."
When the game turned: Pick your Cassel interception. The air came out of Arrowhead on Cassel's first interception, which the Chargers turned into a field goal to take a 10-0 lead. The Chiefs had hope briefly after a Charles' highlight touchdown run in the second quarter, but that went away when San Diego LB Donald Butler returned Cassel's second interception for a touchdown to go ahead 27-6.
Highlight moments: Charles' field-reversal run. The Chiefs might have had the best highlight run of the week as a nice consolation prize for a bad, bad day. Charles started running to his right on a sweep, stopped and reversed field to his left. He was freed by Cassel, who whiffed on a block but got in the way enough to free Charles for a 37-yard TD. ... For the rest of the highlights, go ahead and cue up all six of Kansas City's turnovers. The biggest hit (and best highlight) came on a Shaun Draughn fumble when he lept right into Quentin Jammer, who knocked the ball loose.
Top-shelf performances: Philip Rivers -- 18 of 23, 209 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. San Diego's defense -- 4 forced fumbles (recovered 3), 3 INTs, 3 sacks.
What they said about Kansas City's turnover issues:
Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel -- "That makes it tougher when you can't pinpoint one particular thing or one particular player, so when it's everybody, that makes it really difficult because you can't change everybody at once. You have to get the guys that you have to do better and be more consistent."
RB Charles -- "I can't help my team win when I put the ball on the ground. That showed today."
RG Eric Winston -- "It is tough. Any time in this league that you turn the ball over, you obviously aren't helping the defense, and you are giving the other team so much momentum."
Chargers coach Norv Turner: "The thing I liked about the turnovers was that we created a lot of them through our physical play. ... If you're going to be successful in this league, you have to disrupt the quarterback. That's a starting point. If you can do that, you have a chance to be a good football team."
On the decision to start Battle over RB Ryan Mathews:
Turner -- "I thought it was important to let Jackie start the game. I wanted to make sure we got in a rhythm, and we had planned specific things for Ryan, and I just thought he responded in the four minutes right there at the end. He was rolling and hitting it. You ask the confidence I have, and there at the end we're trying to keep the ball from them, trying to put the game away, and he's the guy handling the ball."
Numbers you should know: San Diego's receivers caught only five passes for 39 yards. Rivers took what Kansas City would give him, which was mostly either dumping the ball off to his running backs or finding Ronnie Brown down the sideline. The San Diego RBs combined for nine catches, 113 yards and a touchdown. ... The Chargers came into the game with only three forced turnovers through three games. They now have nine and a plus-3 turnover margin.
Going forward: The Chiefs play Baltimore next week, not the team a turnover-prone one wants to see. The Ravens have forced eight turnovers this season. The Chargers head to New Orleans next week and then get Denver at home before their bye week. It's looking realistic that San Diego could have a firm grasp on the division lead by that point.