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Kansas City at San Diego

Chargers overcome five turnovers for improbable victory

SportsLine.com wire reports

SAN DIEGO -- Drew Brees had absolutely no doubt the San Diego Chargers were going to beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Seriously," Brees said with a laugh after the Chargers' improbable victory Sunday, when they committed five turnovers and had a punt blocked, yet came back to win it 35-34 when Brees threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to rookie Reche Caldwell with 14 seconds left.

Reche Caldwell scores the game-winning touchdown with just 14 seconds remaining. 
Reche Caldwell scores the game-winning touchdown with just 14 seconds remaining.(AP) 
"I think as many times as we shot ourselves in the foot, to have a chance at the end to win the game, you've got to think there's some kind of destiny involved, some kind of fate," said Brees, who threw two interceptions, then had two TD passes in the final 8:06.

The victory wasn't secured until linebacker Donnie Edwards -- cut by the Chiefs in March in a salary cap move -- intercepted Trent Green's desperation pass at the Chargers 2 as time expired.

The Chargers (5-1) hurt themselves with the pickoffs by Brees, two fumbles by wide receiver Curtis Conway and a fumbled punt by Tamarick Vanover, a former Chief.

But they finally stopped the blunders and, trailing 24-14 entering the fourth quarter, scored three touchdowns to overtake the Chiefs (3-3).

Out of timeouts with 2:24 to play, Brees led the Chargers 71 yards, completing six of seven passes. Caldwell caught the winning pass by beating cornerback Eric Warfield, who earlier had an interception and recovered a fumble.

While Conway drew double coverage, Caldwell drew man-to-man coverage. He acted like he was running a fade route, then stopped, with Warfield running past him. Brees threw a perfect pass, and after making the catch, Caldwell pumped his fist in celebration.

"I couldn't drop it. He hit me right in the chest," Caldwell said.

While Brees spoke of fate, his teammates spoke of their second-year QB's confidence.

"You look at the youngster and he was poised the whole time," Conway said. "He is amazing."

On the final drive, Brees hit Conway for completions of 18, 16 and 25 yards.

"I'm just glad Drew had enough confidence to keep coming to me," Conway said.

"The kid's been like that his whole career," receiver Tim Dwight said of Brees, a former star at Purdue. "He doesn't get rattled. He believes in his next play."

Brees' confidence was contagious.

"It's just something where you can't have your will broken," Dwight said.

"For us to be plus-4 in turnovers and lose, the Chargers had to be the better team," Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil said.

The Chiefs inadvertently helped the Chargers when they called timeout with 19 seconds left and the Chargers facing third-and-1 at the 2. The Chiefs saw 12 men in the Chargers' huddle, which the referees didn't see.

"We didn't know what defense to call so we were forced to call timeout," Vermeil said.

Dwight confirmed the Chargers had 12 players in the huddle.

"It was huge," he said of the Chiefs' timeout.

The final Chargers' turnover, a fumbled punt by Vanover, came late in the third quarter and led to Marc Boerigter's second TD catch, a 19-yarder for a 24-14 lead.

Conway scored on an 11-yard reverse to pull to 24-21 before the Chiefs got their final touchdown, a 3-yard pass from Green to Tony Gonzalez.

Brees threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dwight to close to 31-28, and the Chiefs could muster only a 43-yard field goal from Morten Andersen, giving the Chargers a chance to win it.

Brees finished 28-of-41 for 319 yards, with two TDs. Conway had eight catches for 129 yards. Caldwell, a third-round draft pick out of Florida, scored his first NFL touchdown. Dwight scored twice, including a 19-yard score off a reverse. LaDainian Tomlinson had 78 yards on 20 carries and 78 yards on nine catches.

Green, a third-string quarterback with San Diego during his rookie season of 1993, was 17-of-29 for 236 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Kansas City's Priest Holmes, the NFL's leading rusher, was held to 63 yards on 23 carries, but had seven catches for 96 yards.

Holmes scored on a 1-yard run, two plays after Larry Atkins blocked Darren Bennett's punt. Glenn Cadrez recovered and almost scored, but was dragged down by Bennett at the 1.

Jason Belser also had an interception and fumble recovery, and Warfield caused a fumble. Shaunard Harts helped force two fumbles.


  • Chiefs rookie Scott Fujita, making his first start, recovered Vanover's fumble.
  • Boerigter had just one catch coming into the game. He played the last two seasons in the CFL.
  • Chargers Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau started after missing last week's loss at Denver with a sprained ankle, but left early in the third quarter with a foot injury. Pro Bowl defensive end Marcellus Wiley sat out with two strained groin muscles.
  • Vermeil said DT Ryan Sims, the Chiefs' first-round draft pick, broke an elbow. Sims said it was dislocated.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Scoring Summary
TDTim Dwight, 19 Yd run (Steve Christie kick is good), 11:50. Drive: 5 plays, 66 yards in 2:00.
FGMorten Andersen 28 Yd, 5:17. Drive: 11 plays, 60 yards in 6:33.
TDPriest Holmes, 1 Yd run (Morten Andersen kick is good), 3:51. Drive: 2 plays, 1 yards in 0:10.
TDMarc Boerigter, 44 Yd pass from Trent Green (Morten Andersen kick is good), 2:00. Drive: 6 plays, 91 yards in 3:13.
TDLaDainian Tomlinson, 1 Yd run (Steve Christie kick is good), 5:58. Drive: 2 plays, 9 yards in 0:45.
TDMarc Boerigter, 19 Yd pass from Trent Green (Morten Andersen kick is good), 2:24. Drive: 3 plays, 28 yards in 1:29.
TDCurtis Conway, 11 Yd run (Steve Christie kick is good), 13:16. Drive: 8 plays, 59 yards in 4:08.
TDTony Gonzalez, 3 Yd pass from Trent Green (Morten Andersen kick is good), 8:06. Drive: 8 plays, 60 yards in 5:10.
TDTim Dwight, 11 Yd pass from Drew Brees (Steve Christie kick is good), 4:07. Drive: 9 plays, 65 yards in 3:59.
FGMorten Andersen 43 Yd, 2:30. Drive: 7 plays, 38 yards in 1:37.
TDReche Caldwell, 2 Yd pass from Drew Brees (Steve Christie kick is good), 0:14. Drive: 7 plays, 71 yards in 2:16.

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Kansas City
T. Green17/2923632
P. Holmes2363118
T. Green42509
D. Hall1000
T. Richardson1000
P. Holmes796022
M. Boerigter485244
E. Kennison121021
D. Hall112012
T. Gonzalez21118
T. Richardson21108
San Diego
D. Brees28/4131922
L. Tomlinson2078111
T. Dwight237119
D. Brees527010
C. Conway111111
C. Conway8129025
L. Tomlinson978022
J. Norman249029
T. Dwight539111
R. Caldwell325113
F. McCrary1-10-1
Complete Player Stats