The once-embattled quarterback stoically marched San Diego downfield against Kansas City on Sunday, and then found his unheralded wide receiver with a 26-yard scoring strike with 24 seconds remaining that gave San Diego a 41-38 victory and ended its three-game losing streak.
"It's one of those you'll never forget, that's for sure," said Rivers, who threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns against a Kansas City defense that had been among the NFL's best.
"It's kind of what our season's been about," Rivers said. "Can you drive and score at the end?"
It turned out there'd be more lead change in a game that had eight of them.
"Philip said, 'Fly on the boundary,'" Ajirotutu said, "so I knew that's a little code word that he usually says that the ball's coming to you."
"I'm not making excuses," Reid said. "The next guy has to come in and we expect them to step up and make plays. There's no excuses."
San Diego (5-6) finished with 491 yards of offense against a Chiefs defense that had allowed more than 17 points just once: last week's 27-17 defeat in Denver.
Of course, it was Rivers who made the entire offense sing.
"I mean, you'd like to take positives away form games," Smith said, "but right now it wasn't enough. We didn't do enough as a team to come out on top."
The game turned into a back-and-forth nail-biter in the second half.
Rivers hit Green on a quick slant, and the tight end ran 60 yards for his first career touchdown. It gave the Chargers a 34-31 lead with 7:50 left.
"That's what the game's all about," McCoy said. "When the game's on the line, who's going to come up and make the big play? Who's going to make the big stop?"
Notes: The Chargers have won 10 of their last 12 against Kansas City. ... The Chargers' Antonio Gates had three catches for 21 yards, making him the fourth TE in NFL history with 700 catches and 9,000 yards. ... Smith dropped to 0-3 against San Diego as a starting QB. ... Wright left briefly with an undisclosed injury but returned to the game. .. The Chiefs played without starting RG Jon Asamoah (calf, shoulder) and RT Eric Fisher (shoulder).
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press