Alex Smith led a game-winning field-goal drive to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a 23-20 upset victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Our takeaways:
- The Chiefs borrowed the Chargers' blueprint, using a "death by a thousand paper cuts" offense to control the tempo and keep Philip Rivers' high-scoring offense on the sidelines. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs owned a 3-to-1 edge in time of possession -- and were still trailing by a point. Smith outplayed Rivers in the all-important final frame, taking the lead with an early-fourth quarter touchdown and breaking a tie in the two-minute drill.
- After a record-setting five consecutive games with a passer rating of at least 120.0, Rivers slipped to 83.4 on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and DeMarco Murray have made up ground in the admittedly premature MVP discussion.
- With another sack on Sunday, Justin Houston is now tied for the NFL lead with seven. Over the past two years, the two-time Pro Bowl selection has averaged over a sack per game. Although far from a household name, he's one of the league's premier outside linebackers.
- With a spectacular 16-yard touchdown that ended in a mid-air collision with cornerback Brandon Flowers, Jamaal Charles passed Priest Holmes (6,070 yards) as the Chiefs' career rushing leader. Still seeking his first 100-yard rushing game of the season, Charles had a season-high in carries by the end of the third quarter.
- Julius Thomas is the only player with more receiving touchdowns than 34-year-old Antonio Gates, who closed out the first half with a back-shoulder, toe-tapping sideline catch and a tipped-ball touchdown. Gates is enjoying an Indian summer Pro Bowl season.
- Smith got little help from his wide receivers on Sunday. Dwayne Bowe and Junior Hemingway each had killer drops in key third-down situations. A.J. Jenkins took points off the board by carelessly stepping out of bounds on a play that could have gone for a long touchdown. It's an area Kansas City will have to upgrade in 2015.
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