By JAY PARIS
CHIEFS 19, CHARGERS 7
DID YOU SEE
+ Two straight running plays by Donald Brown with the Chargers’ season on the brink with four minutes remaining. A head-scratcher.
+ Linebacker Dwight Freeney with a big sack and welcome back my friend. The last time Freeney had a solo sack the Padres had a week left in the season. It was the 111.5th career sack for this classy future Hall of Famer.
+ Right tackle D.J. Fluker proved his worth when he went down with a leg injury in the second quarter. Backup Willie Smith against Chiefs pass-rusher Justin Houston proved to be a big-time problem. The Chargers made hay with their next-man-up mantra on the offensive line, but this, man, wasn’t pretty. Fluker returned but nothing hampered Houston — four sacks.
+ Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman followed his breakout game by returning to earth with a thud. He dropped a pass and forced a time out when not lined up correctly in first half. But he rebounded with three receptions in the last minute.
+ Running back Branden Oliver moved the chains, often with calls run right at the Chiefs’ pass rush. He finished with 71 yards on 14 carries.
+ Wide receiver Eddie Royal was sensational with four catches of 95 yards. And, well, a touchdown which was reversed on a call Chargers fans will look howl about.
+ Wide receiver Malcom Floyd was taken away by the Chiefs’ defense until the second half. Floyd finished with three catches of 29 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“You score seven points you are not going to win many games,’’ — Quarterback Philip Rivers on the Chargers’ offensive woes.
Monday brings with it the dreaded exit interviews, which follows the final game of every season. Coaches talk with and evaluate players before they depart after the Sunday’s game didn’t bring with it an invitation to the playoffs. The question for many — Ryan Mathews, Dwight Freeney, King Dunlap, Eddie Royal, Brandon Flowers — is if they’re leaving for good.
WHAT DID WE LEARN
That it’s hard to complete passes when the quarterback is looking up at the sky. The pass-protection was shoddy, at best, for most the game, compromising Philip Rivers’ game. But the Chiefs did their part, too, as their pass-rushing crew — seven sacks — is among the league’s best. The Chargers head into the offseason with huge questions regarding the interior of their offensive line.
Safety Eric Weddle heads to Arizona and his second-straight Pro Bowl. Depending on how the AFC roster shakes out, alternates Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Darrell Stuckey could be hanging with Weddle.
For the organization, it’s off to the postseason bowls to continue scouting and preparing for next spring’s draft.
Off the field, the Chargers will start a spirited, one-year push to find a local answer for their stadium dilemma.