Trio of Kansas City quarterbacks struggle vs. Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tyler Thigpen rolled to the left to avoid the rush, then fired a pass in the direction of Dwayne Bowe. The ball caromed off an Oakland defensive back's helmet and flew 15 yards back to Thigpen, who just missed catching his own pass.

It was that kind of day for Kansas City's quarterbacks.

 The Chiefs tried three quarterbacks in place of injured starter Brodie Croyle against Oakland on Sunday. None was any better than the next, leading to boos from the home crowd and a 23-8 loss to the Raiders in Kansas City's home opener.

"We got embarrassed at home in our home opener," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said.

How bad was it? The trio had a combined passer rating of 45.2, completing 17 of 38 passes for 173 yards -- 118 in the fourth quarter, after the Raiders were up 16-0. Balls flew out of bounds, into the hands of defenders who should have interceptions, to open spaces on the field when receivers turned the opposite direction.

In other words, it was about what you'd expect from a team playing without its starter and had to use three quarterbacks in the first quarter.

"That's just the way football is -- sometimes you just can't get things going," Thigpen said.

The Chiefs started with Damon Huard, who nearly led them to a last-second win over New England last week after Croyle separated his shoulder.

The 12-year veteran lasted just two series -- minus one play when receiver Marques Hagans gained two yards on a direct snap -- leaving the game after throwing an interception that Tyvon Branch returned 36 yards to Kansas City's 5-yard line.

Huard came of the field dizzy and was done for the day, finishing 2-for-4 for 17 yards, his biggest play a 15-yard rumble on the ground when a play broke down.

"You've got to put it behind you, just forget about it and move on," Huard said. "We know that's not us, we know we're a better football team than that and we've just to get better."

Thigpen wasn't a whole lot better than Huard, particularly early.

The second-year player from Coastal Carolina seemed to have a hard time figuring out where his receivers were going, throwing several passes in the opposite direction of their cuts. He was 3-for-12 during the second and third quarters, leading the Chiefs to just four first downs while struggling to read his receivers and Oakland's coverage.

"Once Damon went out, that kind of limits what we're doing because we haven't had that time with Tyler," tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "There's a couple times he's thinking I'm going to do one thing and he's doing the other thing -- we just haven't had that timing."

Thigpen finally got it going in the fourth quarter with a lob that Bowe tipped and juggled for a 30-yard reception. He followed with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez to finish the drive 8-of-11 for 75 yards, then hit fullback Mike Cox for a 2-point conversion that cut Oakland's lead to 16-8.

That would be it for Thigpen, though.

Kansas City got the ball back at its own 36 with 3:48 left after an Oakland fumble, giving Thigpen a chance to be the hero. Instead, he followed a 19-yard completion to Bowe with a sack and a pass at Gonzalez's feet that Oakland linebacker Kirk Morrison intercepted.

Thigpen finished 14-for-33 for 151 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Hagans had the other completion, hitting Bowe with a 5-yard pass on his only attempt.

"As a quarterback, the more you play, the more comfortable you feel," he said. "I struggled on a couple third downs, but as the game went on, I got a little more confidence."

A running game sure would have helped.

Kansas City generated just 55 yards rushing on 19 carries, putting more pressure on Thigpen to move the offense through the air. And once the Chiefs fell behind 16-0 midway through the third quarter, they had no choice but to throw it every time.

Thigpen handled it relatively well, particularly for someone who had six career attempts before Sunday.

"A young quarterback -- green. You know that," Edwards said. "He was put in a tough spot. I thought he did a good job in the 2-minute at the end where he took the team down and some throws. But it's a work in progress."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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