KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Philip Rivers is no doubt happy he won’t see the Kansas City Chiefs again until next season.
He’d be happier if he never saw them again, period.
No team has caused the Chargers quarterback bigger fits than one of his biggest AFC West rivals, and that rang true again Saturday night. Rivers tossed three interceptions, two to All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters, in a 30-13 loss that likely dashed the Chargers’ playoff hopes.
“That’s the hardest part,” Rivers said. “While it’s not necessarily over yet, now you’re not in control. You got to make sure you take care of the next couple and hope all kinds of stuff happens. That is the toughest part, to claw to right there, taste it a little bit and then not play very well.”
That may be an understatement.
Rivers had not thrown an interception during the last four games, which the Chargers (7-7) won to climb into a tie with the Chiefs atop the division heading into their showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. But the veteran quarterback grossly overthrew his intended target early in the second half, and Peters nabbed the jump ball and returned it 62 yards to set up a field goal.
The Chiefs had led 17-13 at that point. The field goal made it a touchdown game.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler fumbled three plays later, leading to another field goal, and Rivers was picked off by Ron Parker on their ensuing possession to scuttle any comeback hopes.
He was picked again by Peters in the closing minutes to cap a miserable night.
“We just kind of fell apart in a sense,” said Rivers, who was 20 of 36 for 227 yards and a touchdown that will be mostly forgotten. “What we talked about the last four games, not turning the ball over and getting takeaways — we were the opposite of that. We turned it over too many times.
“In this environment against that team,” Rivers said, “it’s hard to win when you turn it over.”
He should know that by now. Rivers threw three interceptions when the Chiefs beat the Chargers 24-10 in Week 3, and has now thrown 13 interceptions during an eight-game losing streak to them.
“I thought this game, those three interceptions were different,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “He got hit throwing the ball in that last one. We had the wrong route on another one. There were some things that caused those interceptions today, but we have to execute better as an offense.”
The Chargers led 13-10 early in the second half, when Rivers went 5 for 5 for 88 yards in marching them downfield. His 10-yard touchdown toss to tight end Antonio Gates was the 86th time they had connected for a score, making them the second-most prolific scoring tandem in NFL history.
That was the end of their highlights, though.
The Chiefs (8-6) have played Rivers enough over the years to know that he’s prone to mistakes, and they capitalized when his throws became errant. The Chiefs got points from the first three turnovers they forced, and they nearly ran out the clock to end the game after the final interception.
“We know this team pretty well,” Parker said. “It’s like we’re playing against our brothers. We know how they’re going to try to attack us. We have to just do a good job of figuring it out.”
They did a near-perfect job of that Saturday night.
“Saying we fell apart is probably too strong,” Rivers said. “We just didn’t execute the way we needed to win the game. Now we just have to keep going, two games left. Finish it the right way.”