Work in Sports
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Safety Reggie Tongue's seven-yard fumble return for a touchdown highlighted a stellar defensive performance as the Kansas City Chiefs continued their dominance at home against the San Diego Chargers, 34-0.
Elvis Grbac had a pair of touchdown passes, including an 81-yarder to Derrick Alexander, as Kansas City posted its 10th straight home win over San Diego. The Chiefs defense, led by cornerback James Hasty, has allowed just 22 points in its last three contests.
It was the first shutout for the Chiefs since a 30-0 rout of Oakland on December 7, 1997.
The Chiefs defense set the tone immediately by forcing 10 points in the opening 7:10 of the contest. Cornerback Cris Dishman's interception on the Chargers first possession set up Stoyanovich's 43-yard field goal. San Diego began its second drive at its 28 and, three plays later, Tongue came on a blitz and sacked Erik Kramer. The hit caused a fumble that Tongue recovered and returned seven yards for the score.
"We had a hard time starting out," Kramer said. "We went into the game with a silent snap count and our guys still seemed a bit confused. ... We kind of made it easy on them today."
Hasty followed last week's 11-tackle, two-interception performance with 10 tackles and three passes defensed today. The Chiefs defense combined for five sacks and two interceptions and has at least two picks in each of their last six games.
"If you know me, you know I am not about individual stats," Hasty said. "Our secondary is playing with great pride. We are not where we want to be but we are playing better."
"I thought it was our best team performance," Grbac said. "Defensively, what can you say? The way they rush the passer and at the same time stop the run. They create great field position for us."
Grbac completed 11-of-15 for 194 yards while Alexander finished with 113 yards on just two catches. Donnell Bennett added 38 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Chiefs, who improved to 5-2 and took a one-half game lead over Seattle in the AFC West Division. San Diego has dropped two straight after a three-game winning streak and fell to 4-3.
"This is when the NFL becomes a business," said Chargers veteran linebacker Junior Seau. "When the business side of it kicks in it is a revolving door. You hate to see that, but that is the nature of it. There is definitely going to be some movement on Monday."
The Chiefs extended their lead to 13-0 just over five minutes into the second quarter when Stoyanovich capped a 12-play drive with a 39-yard field goal. After the defense held the Chargers in check on their next possession, Kansas City put the game out of reach.
Grbac found Kevin Lockett with a 27-yard completion to midfield and Alexander for a 32-yard gain to the 16. Two plays later he found backup wide receiver Joe Horn over the middle with a nine-yard scoring strike for a 20-0 cushion.
The Chargers managed just one first down in the opening half and 28 total yards.
Kansas City pushed the lead to 27-0 with 3:27 left in the third quarter when Grbac found Alexander with an 81-yard bomb. Again the Chargers self-destructed as Jim Harbaugh was intercepted on the next play from scrimmage. Hasty tipped the ball and linebacker Derrick Thomas, an 11-year veteran, made his first career interception. Two plays later Bennett bulled in from the seven for a 34-0 bulge.
San Diego then put together its best drive of the game but on 4th-and-1 from the Kansas City 1, Harbaugh fumbled the snap and the Chiefs recovered at the 4. The Chargers had another drive stall at the Kansas City 15 with just under five minutes remaining and the Chiefs were able to effectively kill the clock.
"The defensive coaches battle like the players on the field," said Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham of his team's desire for a shutout. "Where I saw signs of how much they wanted it was on the defensive line. They brought it at the end unbelievably."