The Chargers opened the 2016 season looking like anything but the team that lost 12 games last year, including its last eight in the AFC West.
San Diego’s 33-27 overtime loss against the Kansas Chiefs was, on the one hand, filled with great promise, and the other, a humbling reminder of the devastating injuries this franchise has become all too familiar with.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen was carted off the field near the end of the second quarter with a non-contact knee injury. After missing eight games last year with a lacerated kidney, Allen was off to a strong start against the Chiefs in his first start back from injury.
Allen, who was second in the NFL in receptions last year before his season-ending injury, was targeted seven times and caught six passes for 63 yards.
Like last year, the offense wasn’t the same without Allen.
The Chargers scored three touchdowns in three drives with Allen on the field, and were 6-6 on third downs. After he departed, San Diego went 1-9 on third down resulting in punt, punt, field goal, field goal, missed field goal, punt, punt, and… punt.
San Diego was cruising, up 21-3 at the half, and 27-10 in the third quarter before the Chiefs came roaring back.
After being held to just a field goal in the first 30 minutes, Kansas City scored 24 points in the second half to make it a 27-27 game.
The Chiefs sealed it on a 10-play, 70-yard drive in overtime, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run from Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith.
The 21-point comeback was the largest in Chiefs history.
The 21-point blown lead by the Chargers was the largest since head coach Mike McCoy’s first game in 2013.
If there is any silver lining from this game, it’s the run game.
After 219 touches in the NFL without a touchdown, running Melvin Gordon finally scored his first points for the Chargers. Only three players in the last 25 years went longer without scoring a touchdown to begin a career.
It seemed only fitting that Gordon was the first Chargers player to score the team’s first points of the 2016 season.
For good measure, Gordon added another rushing touchdown on the Chargers next drive. His two rushing touchdowns against the Chiefs were half as many as the Chargers scored all of last season.
Gordon finished with 14 rushing attempts for 57 yards, including an impressive 17-yard run.
Danny Woodhead added 89 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Tyrell Williams, who will likely see more snaps because of Allen’s injury, led the Chargers with 71 yards receiving on two receptions.
— Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)