The Kansas City Chiefs' defense was the best in the NFL over the first eight weeks of the season. It's worth wondering if we'll see that defense again.
The San Diego Chargers won 41-38 in Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday in a game where the Chiefs lost their league-leading sack duo of Justin Houston (elbow) and Tamba Hali (ankle) to potentially serious injuries.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers' squad is very much alive in the AFC wild-card race after a beautiful 26-yard touchdown pass to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds left. The Kansas City Chiefs, now 9-2, allowed 38 points in the final 31 minutes of the game. Those all came after Houston's injury.
The Chiefs' offense played great Sunday, but they are not built for shootouts. They have the Denver Broncos coming to town in seven days, and will need that win to stay alive in the AFC West division race.
Here's what else we learned:
1. Don't put this all on Houston and Hali's injuries. The Chiefs' pass rush wasn't that effective for three consecutive games before this one. Chargers receiver Keenan Allen made plays all game even before the injuries, and Rivers missed open throws in the first half. Allen finished with 124 yards and is an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. The Chargers racked up 495 yards while Rivers passed for 392 yards and three TDs.
2. Quarterback Alex Smith deserves a ton of credit for putting the Chiefs in position to win. Kansas City repeatedly converted third-and-long plays throughout the game. Smith even put the Chiefs in the lead with a touchdown with 1:28 left in the game. San Diego's awful secondary and pass rush will be tough for the team to overcome down the line.
3. Chargers tight end Ladarius Green has been a revelation over the last month. He's probably the fastest guy on the team. He took a 60-yard catch to the house in the fourth quarter. If Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles did the same on his late 46-yard run, the Chiefs probably win.
4. San Diego running back Ryan Mathews left with a hamstring injury in the second half.
6. There were eight lead changes in this game, the most for any contest since 2011. There were nine touchdowns in the last 34 minutes of the game, including two in the final two minutes.