Smith, Chiefs win AFC West title with win over Chargers

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-01 20:06:01-05

Alex Smith threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the AFC West title and a first-round playoff bye with a 37-27 victory Sunday against the Chargers in perhaps the final NFL game in San Diego.

The Chiefs (12-4) clinched the division with the win and Oakland's loss at Denver.

Smith, who went to nearby Helix High in La Mesa, scored on a 5-yard scramble early in the second quarter to tie the game at 10 and then threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Charcandrick West later in the quarter to put the Chiefs ahead for good at 17-10. That followed the first of two interceptions by Philip Rivers that led to 10 points for the Chiefs.

Smith was intercepted once, on a deflected pass that Jahleel Addae returned 90 yards for a touchdown to pull the Chargers (5-11) to 20-17 in the third quarter.

Smith came right back and threw a 2-yard scoring pass to West, who again was wide open.

Rookie Tyreek Hill showed some fancy footwork in returning a punt 95 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter.

For the second straight year, the Chargers were playing perhaps their final game in San Diego.

Chargers chairman Dean Spanos has until Jan. 15 to decide whether to move the team to the Los Angeles area and join the Rams in a stadium scheduled to open in Inglewood in 2019. A Chargers-written ballot measure seeking $1 billion in hotel occupancy taxes to help fund a new downtown stadium was soundly defeated on Nov. 8.

Last year, Spanos was in the process of trying to move the team to Carson to share a stadium with the rival Raiders. That plan was defeated by fellow NFL owners in January, but Spanos was given the option to move to L.A. if he couldn't come up with a way to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.

The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" played on the PA during a break in the action after a Chiefs field goal made it 37-20 late in the game.

Also uncertain is Chargers coach Mike McCoy's future. The Chargers have finished last in the AFC West two straight seasons and have missed the playoffs for three straight years under McCoy. McCoy is 27-37 in four seasons, with the Chargers having lost 23 of their last 32 games. They've also lost 13 of their last 14 AFC West games dating to late in the 2014 season.


Chargers tight end Antonio Gates tied Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdown catches in NFL history by a tight end with 111.

Gates tied the mark on a 2-yard pass toss from Rivers early in the second quarter to give the Chargers a 10-3 lead. Gates caught the ball and extended it in his right hand to break the plane.

Gonzalez spent his first 12 seasons of his career with the Chiefs before finishing with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Chargers tried to get Gates sole possession of the record in the fourth quarter but Rivers overthrew him on second-and-goal from the 11 and then Gates couldn't hold onto a third-down pass in double coverage. The Chargers settled for a field goal from Josh Lambo to cut the Chiefs' lead to 34-20.

Late in the game, Rivers threw a 12-yard TD pass to San Diego's other tight end, wide-open rookie Hunter Henry.


Rivers was intercepted twice to set a career high with 21. He was picked off by Marcus Peters in the second quarter to set up Smith's TD pass to West, and was picked off in the end zone on the next possession by Marcus Peters to set up Cairo Santos' 25-yard field goal for a 20-10 halftime lead.

Rivers' previous high was 20 in 2011.


Chargers rookie defensive end Joey Bosa dropped Smith in the first quarter, giving him 10 ½ sacks in 12 games. Bosa missed all of training camp in a nasty contract dispute with the Spanos family and then injured a hamstring, costing him the first four games of the season. He missed the season-opening loss at Kansas City, when the Chargers blew a 27-10 fourth-quarter lead and lost 33-27 in overtime.

INJURIES: Chiefs S Eric Berry left with an ankle injury in the second half. For the Chargers, safety Darrell Stuckey left with a knee injury, linebacker Christopher Landrum suffered a concussion and guard Orlando Franklin had a shoulder injury.


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