Weddle's INT saves day, Chargers beat Chiefs 20-17
Sunday, September 25, 2011
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eric Weddle showed why he's the San Diego Chargers' $40 million safety.
Weddle intercepted Matt Cassel at midfield with 55 seconds left to preserve the San Diego Chargers' 20-17 victory over the winless Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The defending AFC West champion Chiefs got the ball back at their 33 with 1:26 left after Philip Rivers was stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the Chiefs 34. Out of timeouts and hoping for a huge upset, Cassel threw for 24 yards to Leonard Pope to get into Chargers territory. On the next play, Cassel, under pressure and backpedaling, threw the ball right to the blitzing Weddle, who signed a $40 million contract in the offseason.
A week earlier, Weddle and the rest of the Chargers' defense had been burned by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Ryan Mathews scored twice, and the uninspiring Chargers overcame two more interceptions by Rivers to improve to 2-1 for just the second time in Norv Turner's five seasons as coach. The Chiefs dropped to 0-3.
The Chiefs had been outscored a combined 89-10 in their first two games and were without stars Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki, out with season-ending knee injuries.
Still, the Chargers let them hang around almost until the end.
The Chiefs didn't get a first down until their opening drive of the second half, which Cassel capped with a 4-yard TD pass to Dwayne Bowe to pull to 10-7.
The Chargers responded with an 80-yard drive capped by Mathews' run to the right side for a 10-point lead.
After the teams traded field goals, the Chiefs pulled to 20-17 when Cassel found Pope on a 1-yard scoring pass with 4:58 to play.
The Chiefs were out of timeouts, and all the Chargers had to do was run out the clock. They went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Kansas City 34, and Rivers was stopped to give the Chiefs a final chance.
Mathews ran 21 times for 98 yards. Rivers was 24 of 38 for 266, his lowest total of the season. Cassel was 17 of 24 for 176 yards, two touchdowns and the one INT.
Rivers has thrown two interceptions in each of the first three games. Kendrick Lewis picked off Rivers and returned it 50 yards. The Chiefs got 15 more yards for unsportsmanlike conduct after a referee ran into a Chargers player on the sideline who was too close to the field. The Chiefs got to the San Diego 11 before a holding penalty pushed them back, and Ryan Succop was wide right on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
Brandon Flowers had the other interception for Kansas City, along with a 43-yard return. He hurt his right knee on the play.
Rivers also fumbled on San Diego's second drive, but center Nick Hardwick recovered. Two plays later, Mathews scored on a 2-yard run.
Nick Novak kicked field goals of 35 and 41 yards for the Chargers. Succop kicked a 33-yarder for the Chiefs.
The Chargers were without tight end Antonio Gates (foot), strong safety Bob Sanders (knee) and rookie defensive end Corey Liuget (ankle).