The San Diego Chargers inserted themselves back into the AFC West race and possibly saved head coach Norv Turner's job Thursday with a dominant 31-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chargers came out firing, taking the ball 80 yards in seven plays on the opening drive and capping it with a Philip Rivers 14-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates. The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter, with the Chiefs intercepting Rivers in the end zone to end the half down 10-3. Kansas City was unable to convert a fumbled punt return to any points early in the third, but did add a field goal to narrow San Diego's margin to four points as the final period began.
The Chargers took control of the fourth quarter. First, Rivers and halfbacks Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown executed a run-heavy touchdown drive that ended on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd, giving San Diego a 17-6 lead. Less than a minute later, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel came under pressure in his own end zone and fumbled the ball. Shaun Phillips recovered the ball for another San Diego score.
Cassel then threw an inerception to linebacker Demorrio Williams, who returned it 59 yards for yet another Chargers touchdown and increased the Chargers' advantage to 31-6. Kansas City scored a late touchdown on a Shaun Draughn run to narrow the margin to 31-13.
Fantasy studs/duds: Rivers was nearly perfect Thursday, completing 18 of 20 pass attempts for 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Tight end Antonio Gates caught three of those passes for 43 yards, including one touchdown.
Odds/Gambling: The Chargers, who entered as 7-point favorites, covered the spread with ease.
Injury info: Chiefs defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who made his return after missing five weeks injured, left the game in the second quarter with a calf injury. Halfback Jamaal Charles was injured on a brutal fourth-quarter hit and left the game with a neck injury.
Next team on the schedule: San Diego's game is at Tampa Bay next Sunday. Kansas City plays at Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football.