- Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - After his final pass skipped through the end zone incomplete, and Chargers star Philip Rivers trudged off the soggy turf of Arrowhead Stadium with a 10-3 loss to the Chiefs, the quarterback looked at his phone and saw a text message from home.

“My son said that was the greatest game ever,” Rivers explained, “if we’d have won.”

That’s the “if” that has plagued San Diego all year.

After taking over in the closing minutes and marching to the Kansas City goal line, Rivers threw incomplete twice on the final two plays of the game, allowing the Chiefs to escape with a 10-3 win - their seventh straight and a crucial one for their own AFC wild-card hopes.

“This is the story of our season, losing close games,” said Rivers, who threw for 263 yards with an interception while dealing with the flu. “It was tough. We got down there, had our chance.”



The Chargers (3-10) took over at their own 11 with 5 minutes left and moved quickly, three times converting on fourth down. But after getting to the 1-yard line, San Diego was called for a delay of game, making the potential tying play a much more difficult proposition.

Rivers threw high and out of the end zone, but still had 2 seconds on the clock.

Another incomplete pass that would have ended the game was blown dead for a false start, so the ball was pushed back to the 11-yard line. Rivers took the snap, scrambled to his right and threw again to the end zone, where his pass to Danny Woodhead skipped incomplete.

“They just kept on fighting to the very last play there,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “This team has a lot of fight in them. I’m proud of them for that. But this is about winning.”

Alex Smith threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson and finished with 191 yards through the air for Kansas City (8-5), but also threw his first pick after a franchise-record 312 attempts.

Not that anybody will remember it after seven straight wins.

“You want the games to get bigger and bigger. You want them to be more meaningful,” Smith said. “I think this team is responding well to that challenge.”

It was evident from the first series that little had changed in the three weeks since the Chiefs shut down Rivers and Co. in a 33-3 win on Nov. 22: The Chargers went three-and-out.

The teams started trading punts throughout the first quarter as rain and wind lashed half-empty Arrowhead Stadium. When the Chiefs got something going, they watched as Frankie Hammond fumbled a punt return. And when the Chargers began to move the ball, penalties shut down their drive.

Kansas City finally took the lead in the second quarter when it began a drive at its own 4-yard line. Eight consecutive running plays netted three first downs, and sucked the entire San Diego defense up to the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs took advantage when Smith hit Albert Wilson on a quick slant route, and he out-ran Steve Williams for a 44-yard touchdown reception.

Rivers was intercepted by Derrick Johnson on the Chargers’ ensuing possession, and Kansas City had just enough time to get within range for a 40-yard field goal and a 10-0 halftime lead.

The Chargers’ Josh Lambo atoned for an earlier miss with his own 30-yard field goal in the third quarter, but it was the Kansas City defense that starred the rest of the second half.

Dee Ford had his first three sacks of the season in place of injured All-Pro pass rusher Justin Houston, and the defensive backfield managed to blanket San Diego’s wide receivers. Gordon was bottled up all afternoon, and the Chargers were forced to abandon the run game in the final minutes.

Then, with the game on the line, the Chiefs made two of their biggest stops of the season.

“If you’re going to be a good football team you have to win games like this. We found ways to lose games just like this,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “But we have to continue to get better. We’ve got a long way to go.”

NOTES: Williams left with a hip injury and did not return. … Chiefs RB Spencer Ware ran for 52 yards before leaving with bruised ribs. … Ford finished with a team-high seven tackles. … The Chiefs sacked Rivers five times. … Chargers TE Antonio Gates had six catches for 76 yards.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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