Chiefs 24 Bolts 17

Rough night for Rivers.

Jim Rome
November 19, 2019 - 9:53 am
Philip Rivers

USA Today

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Kansas City vs. Los Angeles in Mexico City. There were a lot of variables in that game, including altitude and field conditions, but there was one guarantee – it was going to end horribly for a fanbase that has seen more than its share of horrible endings.

KC and LA are two fanbases with plenty of scar tissue and as the fourth quarter was ticking down, both of them had to be expecting the worse. Because they’ve both been there so many times before.

You can’t find me a fan in KC or LA who was confident their team was going to win that game. No chance at all.

But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Because for a moment, a brief moment, in the first half, it looked like it might not be close. In fact, it looked like a blowout. The Chiefs defense looked porous as hell and the Bolts were just rolling up and down the field on em. The Chiefs could barely move the ball and the Chargers were moving it all over the place. Well…everywhere except for into the end zone.

They managed to outgain the Chiefs by 203 yards in the first half. And somehow still trailed 10-9 on the scoreboard. Let me underline that – Los Angeles outgained Kansas City 312 yards to 109 and they were behind on the scoreboard. That’s not easy to do. In fact, I would have said impossible to do.

And Charger fans know what that means. If you’re playing Patrick Mahomes and that offense and you have a chance to get up on them, and choke them out, you better get up on them and choke them out. Because field goals aren’t going to cut it. Everyone knew that.

And Charger fans also knew that Philip Rivers was coming into this game off a three interception game against the Raiders. So before I continue, let me make one thing clear: This is a Philip Rivers House. I have so much respect for him as a player, and a leader, and a battler.

He fights for absolutely everything. He does. He always has. But... Last night was not his best night. Far from it. In fact, it was one of his worst nights. That triple crown of picks against Oakland was one of his worst games, and last night was even worse.

And yes, I know that he was playing without both starting tackles. And that will make you do some things that you don’t normally do, but there was a stretch last night where it looked like Jameis Winston had thrown on Charger gear and was trying to lead that offense. Because my man had morphed from the heady, sure fire hall a famer into a turnover machine! Four picks and if not for a drop, it would have been Five.

And as rough a night as Rivers as having, it wasn’t like KC’s offense was on fire either. That might have been due to the fact that one player after another on offense was going down with one injury after another.

And it meant that Patrick Mahomes ended up as KC’s leading rusher. Credit to Mahomes for getting it done with who he had left and doing what he had to do to move the chains.  I’m just not sure you want him doing THAT just weeks after his kneecap slid half way down his leg. Especially on that field, in those condition. Like I have nothing vested here, but every time Mahomes took I was holding my breath, because for all the talk about how much better the field was supposed to be, it was still coming up in chunks. And all it would take was this guy stepping in one (gopher hole), he goes down again, and their season goes with him.

But while KC was dead in the first half and they came to life in the second, they still could not put LA away. That’s because it’s impossible to put LA away. The Chargers may not know how to finish, but they’re pretty damn good at hanging around and making things interesting, as their 7 losses by 7 or fewer points illustrates. That’s real: they have lost 7 times in 11 games by a touchdown or less. So, of course, they were going to have a look at this thing late: and they did. Again, they don’t finish, but they’re always right there in the end. 

And they were right there – holding the ball on their own nine yard line, down 7, with 1:53 left and no timeouts.

And again, neither fan base was feeling good in that moment. KC fans have been through this too many times. Over the years, they’ve lost too many games like this, where they could’ve and should’ve put away their opponent and didn’t, only to have that opponent come back and rip it from them.

And Charger fans have been through this nearly every week. Seriously. Doesn’t it feel like the Chargers play the exact same game every week and it always comes down to the last possession?

LA specializes in that brand of excitement. No matter what happens, they will make it close. And the way things have gone this year, they will make it close, and then they’ll lose in the worst way imaginable. 

And sure enough, LA made it close.

And then it ended in the worst say possible, thanks to this. Roll it.

I hate to say it, Charger fans, but that was the most predictable thing ever. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. That was no way that WASN’T going to happen:  When Rivers was sitting on three picks, you knew he was finishing with fourth.  Because. They’re coming in bunches now.

And I’m not here to crush Rivers. He knows more about football than I know about anything, so I’m sure he saw something on that play that I didn’t. But it looked like he was throwing a jump ball to a 5’10 guy being covered by a 6’2 guy.

That doesn’t mean he’s a terrible quarterback or that you need to start looking for a replacement. It just means this is a brutal stretch. And he picked a terrible time to have a bad time. Because losing that game pretty much cost them any shot at the playoffs.

They’ve gone 2-5 in the last seven games and every one of those has been winnable. Go 3-4 or 4-3 and this is a totally different stretch. Throw an interception or two fewer and this is a different season.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t going to give up. In fact, knowing how this team battles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing in Week 17 with a chance to get into the playoffs. They’re 4-7, but all seven losses have been by one score or less. Despite all their injuries, they are this close to being that good.

But back to the Phil the turnover machine:  yes, I know that in the last four games, he has four touchdown passes, eight interceptions, and two fumbles. More importantly he knows it: just as he knows he’s killing them right now. And that has to be absolutely killing Rivers too. None of this is for a lack of trying. If anything, it’s because he’s trying too hard.

I’d say try easier, but that’s always easier said than done. And Charger fans know that nothing comes easy. Nothing at all. At the end of the trip to Mexico City, KC comes back with an ugly win, LA comes back with a hideous loss. Maybe next time you’re going up against the one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL, and the few times you do run it, you have success, maybe you stay with that, instead of asking your q.b. to continue to force it when it’s pretty clear this is one of the few times he just doesn’t’ have it.