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Arrowhead Report: Big Jon Gets Shutout

Posted Oct 27, 2011

Le'Ron McClain's TD stands after stat adjustments, San Diego's backfield receiving game still potent without Sproles and more

The Elias Sports Bureau announced a number of NFL stat corrections Thursday and, unfortunately for Jon Asamoah, none of the adjustments affected the Chiefs box score in Oakland.

Asamoah recovered Le’Ron McClain’s goal line fumble in the end zone for the Chiefs second touchdown of the game, but the official statistician at O.co Coliseum ruled McClain had crossed the goal line prior to fumbling the football.

“It should be Jon’s (touchdown),” McClain admitted. “Jon made a great play. I thought that the ball came out before I crossed. Hopefully on Monday I can get in there without Jon having to jump on it.”

“In my dreams, I’m still going to say that I got one,” Asamoah said. “It would have been nice to say that I scored for the first time in my life (at any level). I was a little confused with what was going on, but I was really excited.”

Unless Elias announces a late addition to its list of corrections, the official ruling awards McClain with his 13th career rushing touchdown. It’s his first score as a member of the Chiefs.

“It was all so fast after it happened,” McClain remembered. “I told Jon that when I fumbled it, that I couldn’t hear the crowd. I couldn’t hear anything except the ball hitting the ground and then I saw #73 out the corner of my eye and get the ball. Maybe we can share that one.”

The ruling might have resulted in a tough break for Asamoah, but the play was a good break overall for the Chiefs.

Defend The Dump

Darren Sproles is no longer a receiving threat out of the Chargers backfield, but RBs Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews rank first and second on the team in receptions.

With or without Sproles, defending San Diego’s running backs in the passing game is a tough task for opposing linebackers and remains a key part of the Chargers’ offense.

“Darren is a great player,” Haley said. “I would never be excited to have to go against Darren Sproles, but at the same time, this is a very talented group of backs.”

Sproles became a major part of the Chargers receiving game in 2008 when he caught 29 passes for 342 yards and five touchdowns. He nearly doubled that reception total in 2009 and hauled in a career-high 59 catches last season. He also averaged 10.2 yards per catch from 2008-10.

“What Philip does, I think, is he utilizes backs very, very well in the passing game, which I think really essentially becomes another run play, as far as we’re concerned,” Haley said. “They get the ball a lot to the backs.

“In addition to handing it off 100-plus times, they’ve dumped it down another 50-something, so those are positive plays. All those backs do a really good job of getting yards after catch, so it’s a dangerous part of their offense which we have to do a very good job of defending.”

Many believe Rivers’ struggles are a direct result of losing the shifty running back as a receiving target. Sproles has already caught 45 passes for New Orleans and is well on his way to the best receiving season of his six-season career.

But even with the loss of Sproles, Haley believes San Diego’s running backs are still represent dangerous matchups as receivers.

 “Ryan Mathews is up over 12 yards per catch, and they’ve thrown it to him a bunch,” Haley said. “Tolbert again is up there (at 8.3 yards per catch) every time he touches it out of the backfield, so that’s a lot of yards when you start to add it up.”

“Must-Win”

Todd Haley isn’t one to tag games as “must-win” situations. Instead, he sticks by his four quarters philosophy and aims to bank three wins for every four played before resetting the counter.

The message is almost always the same coming from Chiefs players as well. Games get big. Some represent the biggest of the season to date. But those two words – must win – are rarely used together.

This week is a bit different

 Maybe it’s the thrill of beginning the month winless and ending it playing for first place on primetime television? Maybe it’s simply the best way to describe how big Monday night’s matchup with San Diego truly is?

It’s rare to tag a game as a “must-win” in Week 8, but playing the top team in the division twice before November can change the landscape.

Regardless, “must-win” has been uttered in the Chiefs locker room for the first time in quite a while.

“I would never see that as a bad thing, as opposed to the contrary of them saying something else,” Haley said when notified of some of the players’ comments. “I think it’s like every game. It’s the most important game of the year, that’s what I tell them, and as soon as this game’s over then it will be (the biggest game) next week.”

In San Diego, the Chargers are preparing for the Chiefs under much different circumstances.

Kansas City looked lost just one month ago, being outscored 89-10 the first two games of the season. After falling to 0-3 with a 20-17 loss in San Diego, the Chiefs season looked all but lost.

“They’ve bounced back and this is the kind of game that you love to play in on both sides,” Chargers QB Philip Rivers said. “It’s Monday Night Football and you’re fighting for first place. It doesn’t get much better.”

Rivers has been especially impressed with the Chiefs ability to bounce back from season-ending injuries to Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry.

“It’s impressive, it really is,” Rivers said. “You’re talking about Pro Bowl players that obviously mean a lot to that team and they’ve battled through it. I try to think back (to compare) and the one I can think of is in Oakland a few years ago when we lost both C Nick Hardwick and NT Jamal Williams.”

As for labeling the game as a “must-win,” Rivers says that the Chargers are approaching things in that fashion.

“I think of it the same way,” Rivers said. “That’s the way we treat every game, but obviously division games are huge and they almost count as a game and a half because of head-to-head (tiebreakers).”

The game itself represents a three-game swing in the division standings. With a win, Kansas City would move into a three-way tie atop the AFC West with San Diego and Oakland. A loss puts the Chiefs a full two games behind the Chargers with San Diego holding a head-to-head tiebreaker.

Injury Report

Kendrick Lewis lands on the Chiefs injury report after exiting the game last Sunday with an ankle injury. He was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice because of the injury.

When Lewis was out, the Chiefs lined up with Donald Washington next to starter Jon McGraw.

Chiefs Injury Report

S Kendrick Lewis – Limited Participation (Ankle)

Chargers Injury Report

San Diego placed LB Larry English on injured reserve earlier this week. In addition, the Chargers announced a lengthy injury list Thursday evening.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE: DE Luis Castillo (Tibia), G Kris Dielman (Concussion), WR Malcom Floyd (Hip), LB Shaun Phillips (Foot), RB Mike Tolbert (Hamstring, Hand)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION: FB Jacob Hester (Foot), T Marcus McNeill (Neck), OL Scott Mruczkowski (Neck), TE Antonio Gates (Foot), RB Ryan Mathews (Thumb)

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