Published October 01, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The San Diego Chargers no doubt remembered their last trip to Arrowhead Stadium, back on Halloween night last season, when they gave away a game to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Well, considered the favor returned.
Matt Cassel did his part by throwing three first-half interceptions Sunday. Jamaal Charles helped out by losing a pair of fumbles. Even backup running back Shaun Draughn coughed it up once.
The Chargers capitalized on the six turnovers en route to a 37-20 victory.
"One of the things we've been talking about is negative plays. That's the ultimate, when you can create turnovers," San Diego coach Norv Turner said. "Creating negative plays gives us the chance to come in here and use the skills we have."
Philip Rivers threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns in a workmanlike effort, while Jackie Battle had touchdowns running and receiving against his former team.
"We just wanted to come out start fast, play together, win on first down shut down the running game and make the plays that needed to be made," said Eric Weddle, who had one of the Chargers' three interceptions. "It was a good performance."
Much better than last season, when Rivers fumbled a snap with time running out and San Diego in position to kick the winning field goal. The game went to overtime and the Chiefs won.
The Chiefs didn't even give themselves a chance in the fourth quarter this time.
"We didn't play a very good football game today, in any phase," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. "I don't understand what happened with the team. I thought it was uncharacteristic the way we turned the ball over today, because we hadn't been doing that."
Five of the turnovers came in the first half, when San Diego (3-1) raced to a 27-6 lead.
Cassel threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns, but his three picks sullied the day. Charles had the luster of an electrifying 37-yard touchdown run dulled by his fumbles.
"Putting the ball on the ground, I know I can't do that," Charles said. "The only way we can win ballgames is if we don't turn the ball over. We did a terrible job, especially me."
Just about the only bright spot for the Chiefs (1-3) was Dwayne Bowe, who had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown that came far too late to matter.
The regular officials were back on the field Sunday, and both teams kept referee Bill Leavy's crew busy. They combined for 15 penalties for 150 yards.
Two of them came against Chiefs safety Eric Berry for pass interference on the opening drive of the game, which Rivers capped with a short touchdown pass to Eddie Royal.
Then the cacophony of errors truly began for Kansas City.
Cassel's third pass of the game was intercepted by Weddle, giving San Diego the ball at the Chiefs 28. Four plays later, Nick Novak's 25-yard field goal made it 10-0.
On the Chiefs' next possession, Charles was stripped of the ball by Takeo Spikes on the first play after a false start. San Diego took over at the Chiefs 5, and Battle pounded forward twice to give the Chargers a 17-0 lead — all before Kansas City had run five offensive plays.
The Chiefs have been outscored 41-6 in the first quarter this season.
Charles fumbled again midway through the second quarter, but this time the Chargers gave it right back when Rivers was picked off Brandon Flowers deep in Kansas City territory.
The Chiefs managed to go 85 yards in just five plays, Charles providing the highlight with his TD run. But the momentum was squandered on their next possession, when Cassel's pass behind Tony Moeaki bounced off his hands, and Chargers linebacker Donald Butler grabbed the deflection and waltzed 21 yards untouched to give San Diego a 27-6 lead.
Cassel threw his third INT deep in San Diego territory near the end of the half.
The Chiefs put together a long drive to start the third quarter, and Charles' 13-yard TD catch with 8:40 left gave the hardy Kansas City fans still sticking around some reason to hope.
After rallying from a franchise-record 18 points down to beat New Orleans last week, though, the Chiefs couldn't stop giving away their chances of getting back in the game.
They went three-and-out on two straight series, and Draughn fumbled on the next, before the Chargers put a tidy bow on an easy victory with Battle's touchdown catch.
"We've got to solve it and we've got to solve it quick. Turnovers have been killing us," Cassel said. "We talk about it, but we obviously have to go out there and do a better job."
NOTES: The Chargers are 8-2 in their last 10 games against Kansas City. ... The Chiefs outgained San Diego 353-293. ... Rivers made his 100th career start. ... Cassel has thrown seven INTs and lost three fumbles through four games. ... DE Ropati Pitoitua had two sacks for Kansas City in place of Glenn Dorsey (calf). ... Chiefs LB Tamba Hali had his first sack of the year.
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