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AFC West Rundown: Week 15

Posted Dec 18, 2013

Take a look at how the AFC West fared in Week 15 and what lies ahead for the four teams this week.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)

Week 15: Won 56-31 at Oakland

How it happened: The Chiefs ignited for a season-high 56 points on the back of five touchdowns from running back Jamaal Charles, four of which came in the first half. Charles became the first running back in NFL history to total four receiving touchdowns in a game, getting Kansas City off to a fast start by weaving through traffic and racing past the Oakland defense on a pair of 49-yard and 39-yard touchdown receptions in the first quarter. After safety Eric Berry returned Oakland quarterback Matt McGloin’s first-quarter interception 47 yards for a touchdown to put the Chiefs on top 21-3, Charles took care of Kansas City’s scoring for the remainder of the half. With the score narrowed to 21-10 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Raiders running back Rashad Jennings, Charles answered the bell with a 1-yard touchdown run of his own, putting the Chiefs back up by 18. Just over three minutes later, the lead grew to 25 after Charles caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Smith. The running back saved his best for a second-half encore, however – Charles’ final touchdown, a 71-yard catch-and-go from Smith, put the Chiefs on top 42-31 and sparked Kansas City’s 21-unanswered points to close the game.

It was over when: Linebacker Derrick Johnson forced McGloin’s fourth interception of the game and the Chiefs answered with a four-play, 45-yard drive capped by a 17-yard touchdown run by running back Knile Davis, putting Kansas City up 56-31 with 8:19 to play.

Key performer: Charles became the first NFL player to score five touchdowns in a game since former Broncos running back Clinton Portis did it against the Chiefs on Dec. 7, 2003. Charles’ 11 rushing touchdowns and 7 receiving scores on the season leave him just three receiving touchdowns shy of becoming the first player in NFL history with 10 rushing and receiving touchdowns in a single season.

What’s next: The Chiefs host the AFC South-champion Colts at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

Between the hash marks:

-Kansas City has averaged 41.8 points per game over its last four contests.

-The Chiefs forced Oakland into seven turnovers. Kansas City has recorded nine takeaways in its last two games, good for a league-high 35 on the season. 

 

Oakland Raiders (4-10)

Week 15: Lost 56-31 vs. Kansas City

How it happened: Despite falling into deficits of 21-3 and 35-10 in the first half, the Raiders battled back to pull within striking distance midway through the third quarter. Jennings scored a pair of 1-yard rushing touchdowns in the first half, the last of which pulled Oakland to 35-17 at halftime. McGloin then tossed a pair of touchdown passes to wide receiver Andre Holmes and tight end Mychal Rivera, with the strike to Rivera pulling Oakland within 35-31 with 4:56 to play in the third quarter. However, the Chiefs quickly responded with Charles’ 71-yard touchdown catch, and the Raiders were never able to do the same – committing four turnovers in the game’s final 20 minutes.

It was over when: Johnson intercepted McGloin with 11:00 to play and the Chiefs scored their eighth touchdown of the day on the ensuing possession.

Key performer: Jennings finished with 91 yards on 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns – giving him six rushing scores on the season.

What’s next: The Raiders will look to snap their four-game losing streak when they travel to San Diego in a rematch of their Oct. 6 meeting with the Chargers, which the Raiders won 27-17.

Between the hash marks:

-Jennings has totaled 679 rushing yards on 149 carries this season, good for an average of 4.6 yards per carry. That mark ties him with Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller for 10th in the NFL.

 

San Diego Chargers (7-7)

Week 15: Won 27-20 at Denver

How it happened: Just as the Chargers did in the initial meeting between the two teams – a 28-20 Broncos victory at Qualcomm Stadium on Nov. 10 – San Diego ran the clock and kept Denver’s offense off the field for much of the evening. While the Chargers held a 38:03-21:57 advantage in time of possession in the first meeting, San Diego’s victory last Thursday night was keyed by a 38:49-21:11 edge in time of possession – and a series of crucial plays on offense. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen, giving the Chargers a 17-10 lead at the break. On the opening drive of the third quarter, the Chargers marched 80 yards in eight plays – including a key 32-yard completion from Rivers to wide receiver Vincent Brown on third-and-9 – and capped the drive with a 23-yard touchdown run by running back Ryan Mathews to take a 24-10 lead. While Denver rallied in the fourth quarter, the Chargers snuffed out the Broncos’ best opportunity for a late comeback when linebacker Thomas Keiser intercepted Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning – who was hit as he released the ball – with 5:07 to play, setting up a 35-yard Nick Novak field goal that put San Diego up 10 late.

It was over when: The Broncos were unable to recover an onside kick in the game’s closing seconds, allowing San Diego to run out the clock.  

Key performer: Mathews was called upon frequently and responded by rushing for 127 yards on 29 carries with a touchdown – his fifth 100-yard rushing performance of the season.

What’s next: The Chargers will look to extend their two-game winning streak and stay in the AFC playoff hunt when they host the Raiders.

Between the hash marks:

-Rivers completed 12-of-20 passes for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns, good for a quarterback rating of 120.0. Rivers’ 106.9 quarterback rating on the season ranks fifth in the league.

-The Chargers were 6-of-12 on third down in the game, extending their league-high third down efficiency to 48.3 percent on the season.  

 

Denver Broncos (11-3)

Week 15: Lost 27-20 vs. San Diego

How it happened: The Broncos jumped out to a fast start against the Chargers, marching the ball 67 yards on seven plays on the game’s opening drive and taking a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game when Manning found wide receiver Andre Caldwell on a 15-yard touchdown pass. But while the Broncos tacked on a nine-play, 55-yard drive that culminated in a 32-yard Matt Prater field goal to cap the scoring in the first quarter, Denver’s offense hit a standstill in the second and third quarters. The Broncos gained just two first downs in that 30-minute span, falling behind 24-10 in the process. As the third quarter melted into the fourth, Manning marched the Broncos on a 12-play, 89-yard drive – including a critical 15-yard completion to Caldwell on fourth-and-6 from the Charger 31 – and capped the drive by linking up with Caldwell once again on a 5-yard touchdown pass, cutting the score to 24-17. Denver got the ball back on its own 3-yard line four minutes later, but on the second play of that drive, Manning’s pass was intercepted by Keiser, ending Denver’s best chance for a rally. 

It was over when: Prater’s onside kick was tapped out of bounds by a Chargers player in the game’s closing seconds, giving the ball back to San Diego.

Key performer: Caldwell posted the first multi-touchdown game of his six-year career, catching six passes for 59 yards and a pair of scores.

What’s next: After a 10-day break, the Broncos will return to the gridiron Sunday when they travel to Houston to play the Texans.

Between the hash marks:

-Manning completed 27-of-41 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns – moving past Saints quarterback Drew Brees into fourth place on the NFL’s single-season passing touchdown list with 47. 

-Prater made both of his field goal attempts, moving to 20-for-21 on the season.

 

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