Week 8 Game Recap: Kansas City Chiefs 20, San Diego Chargers 28
What you need to know
Priest Holmes had an extremely quiet afternoon, statistically speaking. There was nothing quiet, however, about the vicious hit laid on Holmes by Shawn Merriman of the Chargers. The full force shot Merriman delivered on Holmes led to the running back sustaining what was termed a mild concussion. Holmes left the field under his own power, but looked very woozy on the sidelines. Larry Johnson took over the feature back duties at that point, but the Chiefs opted to really take to the air for the most part, so Johnson didnít really put up huge stats.
Trent Green awoke from his season long slumber to post his first 300 yard passing game of the season. Not only did Green top 300 yards, but he went over 300 in the second half alone. Green was playing just days after the death of his father.
Tony Gonzalez turned in his first productive fantasy game of the season, totaling nearly 100 yards (97) and a touchdown, all of which was compiled in the second half.
Facing fellow star tight end Tony Gonzalez, Chargers TE Antonio Gates turned in the game of his life to this point. He hauled in ten receptions for 145 yards and three touchdowns, and the stats donít even do justice to just how dominant he was. The Chiefs had absolutely no answers for him.
QB Drew Brees simply played pitch and catch. He didnít need to make many big throws downfield, and the few times the Chargers did attempt pass plays of over 20 yards, Breesí passes were right on the money. He was excellent, both for real football and fantasy.
LaDainian Tomlinson failed to light up the stat sheet for the second week in a row, yet once again rewarded his fantasy owners with a touchdown Ė a passing score to WR Eric Parker, Tomlinsonís fourth touchdown pass of his career and third this season already.
LT Roman Oben left the game with a sprained foot. He was slow to get up after the injury, and had to be helped off the field with help from the trainers.
What you ought to know
|QB Trent Green, Pass: 31 - 43 - 347 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
It was truly a tale of two halves for Green. In the first half, he threw for just 44 yards and zero touchdowns. In the second half, he had 303 yards and two touchdowns Ė more production than heís turned in for any game yet this season. He wasnít very accurate to start the game, and the Chargers got a good amount of pressure on him. In the second half, Green still had to face constant pressure, but he did a much better job of avoiding it. He was able to move around in the pocket much better than usual, and he did a great job of improvising when the pressure got near him. In the second half, Green looked nothing like the player who has underperformed for fantasy owners through the seasonís first seven weeks. This game should give Green owners some hope that he can still perhaps turn his season around. It should also be noted that Green was playing this game mere days after the death of his father. Whether that enhanced or detracted from his performance is up for debate, but thereís no denying that he was tremendous against San Diego.
Holmes was producing very meager statistics early in the third quarter when he was absolutely laid out by Shawn Merriman. Holmes sustained what was termed a mild concussion on the play, and did not return. He walked to the bench and looked a bit dazed on the sidelines, and even though his return was listed officially as questionable, it was obvious to anyone watching that he wasnít coming back. Just as importantly as the injury is the fact that Holmes was doing very little up to the point of the injury. Larry Johnson, running behind the same line, was able to break off several good runs. It canít simply be that the Chiefs happen to block better for Holmes Ė itís fairly obvious at this point that he was lost a bit. He looked slow to the hole and to the outside, he dropped an easy screen pass, and really didnít look like the Holmes weíve come to know over the years. Granted, this was a terrific run defense and Holmes has had several excellent games for fantasy owners recently, but anyone who isnít at least a little bit concerned with his 3.8 yards per carry thus far is probably in denial. Holmes lost 16 total rushing yards on two plays that were called back due to penalty.
Johnson broke off a 46 yard run in the second quarter, by far the Chiefsí longest run of the game. He totaled more on that one run than Priest Holmes totaled on his 14 carries. Despite Holmes leaving the game with a concussion in the third quarter, Johnson didnít really get the opportunity to post huge numbers. Once Holmes went out, the Chiefs began passing constantly. Perhaps it was that Kansas City felt they could throw better, perhaps it was that they couldnít do many of the same things with Holmes out. Whatever the reason, the Chiefs pretty much abandoned the running game once Holmes left. Johnson did get a carry from inside the 5 yard line but was stopped from scoring.
Horn saw a ton of action in the game, and all of his production came after halftime. He was targeted seven times in the second half alone, and did a good job of getting open in the San Diego secondary. He wasnít exactly a playmaker, but he didnít drop anything and was a solid outlet for Green.
Kennison, like most other Kansas City receivers, began quietly with just one catch in the first half. He exploded in the second half, however, with six receptions and a touchdown. Kennison made several terrific grabs and displayed excellent hands (seriously) and was option 1A to Tony Gonzalez for K.C. Kennison lost yards on a reception that was ruled an incompletion after a San Diego challenge.
Owners who have stuck by Gonzalez to this point were handsomely rewarded with the tight endís first big game of the 2005 season. Gonzalez appeared headed for yet another unremarkable game at halftime, with zero catches and just one ball thrown in his direction (a drop on what would have been an easy catch). But Trent Green found his favorite target again during the gameís second half, as Gonzalez turned in all of his production over the final thirty minutes. At times, it appeared the Chargers were simply forgetting about Gonzalez, as he was wide open. Other times, Gonzalez was out-leaping and out-muscling San Diego defenders for catches. For one of the first times all season, Gonzalez actually looked hungry for action rather than just frustrated by not getting it.
Tynes connected on field goals from 34 and 20 yards out, continuing his solid season.
The Chiefs seemingly tried to copy the Philadelphia blueprint of a week ago and sell out to stop Tomlinson at all costs. While it did effectively limit Tomlinsonís yardage, the big difference between Kansas City Sunday and Philadelphia a week ago is that the Eagles could actually slow the Charger passing game. Kansas City perhaps allocated too many resources towards stopping Tomlinson, because San Diego appeared very content to continuously pass the football all game long. In fact, LaDainian Tomlinson didnít even register his tenth carry of the game until there was 10:24 left in the fourth quarter.
The combination of Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson combined to throw for 340 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Chiefs. Whether you want to blame the Tomlinson passing touchdown on the run defense or the pass defense is subjective. The reason for the score is that the Chiefs defensive backs were so concerned with Tomlinson that they immediately broke for him as the play began, only to allow Eric Parker to get behind them for one of the easiest touchdowns youíll ever see. Whether you want to blame the DBs for being overly aggressive towards the run game, or not focused enough on the pass game, it comes down to the fact that it was a passing score. As for slowing the rest of the Chargers, they didnít. Antonio Gates, for one, had an absolute field day against the Chiefs, posting about a monthís worth of stats for most good receivers. Even on the long big play for the Chiefs secondary (Greg Wesley interception), it was more a product of a bad pass by Brees rather than anything productive the Chiefs did. The lone positive in the game for Kansas City defensively was the play of DL Jared Allen. He pretty much lived in the San Diego backfield for much of the game, making plays constantly throughout the course of the game and getting tremendous pressure on QB Drew Brees. S Eric Warfield left the game with a hip pointer injury after a big collision with Antonio Gates and did not return. CB Patrick Surtain left briefly with a knee injury and eventually came back in the game. However, he re-aggravated the injury and left for good by the fourth quarter. S Jerome Woods was also seen limping off the field with a strained right hamstring, but no update was given on his condition.
|QB Drew Brees, Pass: 25 - 43 - 324 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0|
Brees was again efficient, despite a rocky start. Of his first ten passes, several were off-line, too high, deflected at the line, etc. He just didnít look very sharp. He was bailed out on a couple of occasions by his receivers making excellent plays. As the game went on, Brees started looking better and better, until the point where it appeared he could once again do very little wrong. His touchdown passes to Gates were all outstanding throws, especially the first one. Brees wasnít perfect, as evidenced by the interception and the slow start. Not only that, Brees had several passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage by defenders. But when it came time to make throws, Brees made several perfect passes, threading the needle with precision and incredible accuracy. Brees lost two yards passing on a play that was called back for penalty.
|RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Pass: 1 - 1 - 17 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 17 - 69 - 0, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (6 targets)|
Tomlinson totaled just 92 yards from scrimmage, well below his typical average game. Yet he once again found a way to please his fantasy owners by tossing a 17 yard touchdown pass to a wide open Eric Parker. It was Tomlinsonís third touchdown pass of the year, and fourth of his career. On the play, Kansas City DBs were so concerned with Tomlinson running that they neglected to cover Parker, who slipped in behind them for the easy score. Tomlinson had several good runs and receptions, enabling San Diego to sustain drives. He still was able to make defenders miss, and did a lot just to get to 69 rushing yards. He did fumble once, in the fourth quarter, but the Chargers recovered. Tomlinson lost eight yards rushing and two yards receiving on separate plays that were called back for penalties.
|RB Lorenzo Neal, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets)|
Neal was utilized a bit more than usual, getting several carries in short yardage situations. He also caught two passes out of the backfield, but his production is usually limited to blocking duties.
McCardell was solid early, and fairly quiet late. He ran his typical crisp routes and showed excellent hands, and compiled most of his yardage prior to halftime. McCardell lost a reception for no gain (for you point per reception leaguers) that was taken back because of a penalty.
Parker didnít have a big game, but found the end zone on a RB option pass from LaDainian Tomlinson. Parker was wide open for the score, and wonít have many easier touchdown receptions in his career.
Caldwell caught just one pass in the game. He is mentioned here because he fumbled the ball when he was caught from behind trying to gain extra yardage on a drive that could have put the Chargers up 21-0. That is the exact same thing that happened to Caldwell at the end of last weekís game against the Eagles, fumbling as San Diego was going for the game tying score. Whatís very telling about this play is that Caldwell was seen slamming his helmet down on the sideline after speaking with HC Marty Schottenheimer, and then Caldwell wasnít thrown to for the remainder of the game. Heís been making positive strides to this point in his return from a torn ACL, but putting the ball on the ground is not going to garner him any more playing time.
Gates had one of the greatest games by a tight end in the history of the NFL. Fellow TE Tony Gonzalez said Gatesí game was, ďOne of the best games Iíve ever seen by a tight end.Ē In addition to running routes like a wide receiver, running over Chiefs defenders with awesome power, displaying remarkable hands, terrific jumping ability, and a knack for always being able to make that one extra move to pick up the first down, Gates was undoubtedly the center of the San Diego offense with 16 passing targets. There just arenít enough superlatives to describe the kind of game he had. He was, in a word, unstoppable. Gates dropped one pass that would have gone for a first down, but itís almost not worth mentioning after all of the positive he did in the game.
Kaeding connected on his four extra point attempts, and did not attempt a field goal.
The Chargers once again dominated their opponentís running game, holding the Chiefsí vaunted ground game to just 95 yards - 46 of which came on one play. Aside from that one run, the Chiefs ran 20 times for 49 yards.
The Chargers defense was outstanding early, but the pass defense really fell apart in the second half. The team was able to maintain pressure on Chiefs QB Trent Green, but he proved more elusive than usual and avoided much of the rush. In the second half, the Chiefs pretty much abandoned the running game and took to the air. San Diego had a lot of trouble doing anything about it, as both Eddie Kennison and Tony Gonzalez went off, combining for 13 receptions and two touchdowns in the second half alone. Interestingly, the San Diego pass defense really began struggling after Priest Holmes left with an injury. Following Holmesí concussion, the Chiefs engineered a four-play, 92 yard drive that culminated in a Tony Gonzalez touchdown reception. It didnít get much better after that, but there were positive signs for the Chargers. Rookie LB Shawn Merriman played a fantastic game. Heís improved each game this season, and today was a monster. He created havoc in the Kansas City backfield, forcing Trent Green to hurry several throws and simply succumb to a sack on two others. S Terrence Kiel left with a sprained ankle.