Chiefs vs. Chargers: 10 Observations

Here are 10 things that stood out about the game on Sunday

1. Jamaal Charles is good at football

On one of the most spectacular carries of his storied career, Jamaal Charles passed Priest Holmes (6,070 yards) as the Chiefs all-time leading rusher on a 16-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.

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Charles showed a little bit of everything on the run that ended with him leaping into the end zone while taking a couple of hits that sent him spinning through the air and landing on his side. 

2. Commitment to the run

From the very beginning of the game, the Chiefs made a concerted effort to run the football. This resulted in the Chiefs dominating the time of possession (39:00 to 21:00) and keeping Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense on the sideline.

3. Phillip Gaines

This was the best game of rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines' career so far.

Because starting nickelback Chris Owens wasn't able to play today, Gaines was given more responsibility on the Chiefs defense and he took full advantage of it.

Gaines made several key plays in coverage, including knocking down a third-down pass attempt from Rivers to Keenan Allen in the fourth quarter that preserved the Chiefs' lead. 

4. Anthony Sherman is a beast

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We already knew that Sherman was a fantastic blocker, but his 11-yard touchdown reception at the beginning of the fourth quarter showed us exactly why he's consistently ranked among the best fullbacks in the NFL.

Sherman took what looked to be a pass for no gain, made a couple of guys miss and had the vision to cut it back and the strength to muscle it into the end zone. The touchdown gave the Chiefs the 20-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

After the game, as expected, Sherman gave all of the credit to the offensive line and Alex Smith. It's just the way he is.

5. Jamell Fleming in right place at right time

It wasn't a perfect day for cornerback Jamell Fleming, who was targeted early and often by Rivers and the Chargers offense.

But when it mattered the most, Fleming was in the right place at the right time for the Chiefs defense. It was on his coverage of Malcom Floyd on a second-down attempt from the 6-yard line that Fleming was able to keep the go-ahead touchdown from happening.

Fleming also made the tackle on the third-and-long attempt that forced the Chargers field goal to tie the game.

6. Cairo Santos steps up

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This is what we saw all throughout training camp from Cairo Santos, who has now hit six consecutive field goals.

His 48-yard game-winner with under 30 seconds to play in the game undoubtedly brought Chiefs fans to their feet, wherever they were watching.

Santos told me in the locker room after the game that it was his sister Talita's 24th birthday today. There's a lot for the Santos family to celebrate tonight. 

7. Imperfect day for receivers ends with clutch catches

There were two key drops in this game from Chiefs wide receivers: one from Dwayne Bowe and one from Junior Hemingway.

But again, when it mattered the most, Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe hooked up for a pair of clutch plays that led to this Chiefs victory.

The 19-yard completion from Smith to Bowe on second-and-15 on the last drive was the biggest offensive play of the game for the Chiefs.

8. Alex Smith with another efficient day 

Smith finished the day 19 of 28 for 221 yards and a touchdown and had quarterback rating of 103.4.

Again, the common theme today was when someone had to make a play for the Chiefs offense, they did. Smith battled through some tough penalties and drops and led the Chiefs to a huge road victory over the division-leading Chargers.

Rivers came into this game leading the NFL in quarterback rating at 117, and he finished the day 17 of 31 for 205 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Photos from the Chiefs week seven match up against the San Diego Chargers

9. Chiefs dominated time of possession

The commitment to the run and going 7 of 14 on third down helped the Chiefs dominate time of possession, and in turn, keep Rivers on the sideline.

The Chiefs held the ball for 39 minutes, compared to just 21 for the Chargers.

10. Alex Smith to Dwayne Bowe

It wasn't always perfect, but a back-shoulder catch and throw on third-and-2 from Smith to Bowe midway through the fourth quarter extended the Chiefs drive and ate up another two minutes on the clock.  

They ultimately punted and the Chargers drove down for a field goal on the next drive, but that third-down conversion helped the Chiefs run out the clock on the Chargers offense. Then it was a play in which Smith scrambled outside of the pocket and found Bowe open in the middle for a 19-yard gain that set up the game-winner.

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