If Chargers want to win AFC West, chief concern is how to end eight-game skid against Kansas City
Eight straight times the Chargers have taken the field against the AFC West division rival Kansas City Chiefs. Eight straight times the Chargers have left the field without a victory.
The games with their rival have been lost in the last seconds. They’ve cost playoff berths. They’ve ruined seasons. They’ve cost men jobs. The Chargers have lost to backups. They’ve lost in games where stars have been created.
But no matter how, when or where, they’ve been losses.
And during Philip Rivers’ NFL career, the Chargers have never made the postseason when they’ve failed to beat Kansas City at least once.
The Chargers get a chance to snap this streak in the first week of the NFL season when they host the Chiefs at StubHub Center on Sunday. And if the recent past is an indicator, some weird stuff is going to happen.
Here’s what happened the last eight times they met:
Oct. 19, 2014: Chiefs 23, Chargers 20 — The Chargers had won five straight games and were on their way to a sixth before Kansas City’s Cairo Santos hit a 48-yard field goal with less than a minute left.
Tackling issues were to blame for most of the game, with Kansas City rushing for 154 yards to just 69 yards for the Chargers.
“When you’ve won five in a row,” Rivers said, “losing stinks.”
The Chargers would drop their next two, losing early control of the AFC West.
Dec. 28, 2014: Chiefs 19, Chargers 7 — In the regular-season finale, the Chargers went to Kansas City with a clear goal: win the game and earn the final spot in the AFC playoffs.
Even though they faced Kansas City with its backup quarterback, Chase Daniel, the Chargers badly stumbled. The offensive line couldn’t protect Rivers, who was sacked seven times and intercepted twice.
The injury bug was also present as a handful of players left the game, including right tackle D.J. Fluker. The Chargers already had entered the crucial game shorthanded, minus receiver Keenan Allen and running back Ryan Matthews.
It was the first time the Chiefs had swept a season series with the Chargers since 2003.
Nov. 22, 2015: Chiefs 33, Chargers 3 — The 2015 season was a transitional year for the Chargers, with rookie running back Melvin Gordon struggling and the team painfully thin at receiver after Allen suffered a lacerated kidney two games before this walloping in San Diego.
It ended up being one of the worst losses of Rivers’ career, one-upped by a 37-0 loss in Miami the year before.
Dec. 13, 2015: Chiefs 10, Chargers 3 — The rough outings for the Chargers’ offense continued in Kansas City. They failed to score a touchdown for the second straight game and the third time in four outings.
The defense redeemed itself from a brutal showing the previous meeting with the Chiefs, but the Chargers gained just 44 yards on 18 rushing attempts and Rivers was sacked five times.
Sept. 11, 2016: Chiefs 33, Chargers 27 (OT) — The Chargers had a 21-point second-half lead disappear in the season opener, a game in which the Chiefs were nearly a touchdown favorite. Things were going great in the first half, with Allen torching Kansas City for six catches before suffering a season-ending knee injury midway through the second quarter.
The Chargers, and stop if you’ve heard this before, also missed a key fourth-quarter field goal that helped keep the momentum with the Chiefs. Without Allen, the Chargers were sunk for the season.
Jan. 1, 2017: Chiefs 37, Chargers 27 — The team’s tenure in San Diego ended with another loss to the Chiefs, this one clinching the AFC West for the visitors in as awkward an atmosphere as you’ll find in pro sports.
After the game, the team fired coach Mike McCoy. Weeks later, they’d announce that they’d be cutting ties with San Diego and moving to Los Angeles.
Sept. 24, 2017: Chiefs 24, Chargers 10 — Philip Rivers threw three passes that were intercepted in the first half, including one on the opening possession, and the Chargers couldn’t handle Kansas City’s playmakers.
Leading the way was running back Kareem Hunt, who ended up leading the NFL in rushing. Hunt iced the game in the fourth quarter with a 69-yard touchdown run, the only score in the second half.
Dec. 16, 2017: Chiefs 30, Chargers 13 — The Chargers had won four straight (and were playing some of the best football in the AFC) but had another rough outing against the eventual AFC West champion, this one in prime time on a Thursday night
Thanks to Kansas City’s midseason struggles, the game was essentially a play-in for the postseason and the Chargers fell apart late.
With injuries mounting — such as a season-ending one to Hunter Henry (lacerated kidney) — Rivers threw three more picks, and rookie Austin Ekeler also turned the ball over on a fumble.
The miscues cost the Chargers the game and, ultimately, a berth in the postseason. They won their final two games, but needed all three to assure themselves of a postseason spot.
The Chargers signed rookie running back Justin Jackson to their practice squad. Jackson, the team’s seventh-round pick, was waived from the 53-man roster Monday to make room for tight end Antonio Gates.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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