It’s the same game, but viewed from two different perspectives.
Last year’s Monday night matchup between the Chiefs and Chargers set the season’s tone for both clubs.
One sideline walked away from the evening remembering an electric atmosphere that jump-started an underdog’s run towards a division championship. The long-time division favorites remember playing short-handed on a frustrating night that marked the beginning of an even more frustrating season.
Both sides agree that last year’s MNF matchup was a significant date in the final outcome of the 2010 regular season. Past that, there are some differing views on the game itself.
“There’s no doubt it set the tone,” Chiefs QB
Chargers head coach Norv Turner also couldn’t believe what he saw.
“That was an unbelievable evening,” Turner recalled. “You start the game on a very nice evening and midway through the second quarter the temperature dropped with the wind and the rain. It was like you went from August or early September to late November in about half an hour.”
Chiefs head coach Todd Haley has his own memories of the game, and so does Chargers QB Philip Rivers.
“I thought it was huge for us last year,” Haley said. “When you’re starting a season and you’re coming off of a difficult season and you’re able to play a division opponent at home on Monday Night Football, national television and get off to a good start like that last year, it definitely gave us a little boost.”
“You watch that tape and it doesn’t quite show the conditions and how crazy it was,” remembered Rivers. “That’s not an excuse. It was for both teams, but certainly weather was a factor and they handled it better than we did.”
This year’s Halloween MNF matchup, between the same two clubs, might play out to be just as significant.
Kansas City can climb its way back from the dead to grasp hold of the division lead, while San Diego can separate themselves as the sole leader in the AFC West heading into the season’s final two months.
The Chargers have lost at Arrowhead just once since 2006 and have defeated the Chiefs in five of the last six meetings overall. For San Diego, a win on Monday Night Football would go a long way in righting last season’s wrong.
“(Arrowhead) is one of the loudest stadiums that you’ll ever play in,” Rivers said as he recalled last year’s false starts and difficulties communicating at the line of scrimmage. “We have to manage that and they haven’t lost since we played them last, so this game is obviously big for both teams. If you turn on the tape and watch these last three games that they’ve played, it’s clear they’re playing very well.”
Each team has pointed to recent games against one another as turning points in their seasons.
Last year’s season-opening win was well documented as a critical cog in the Chiefs division championship run, but Kansas City is now pointing to a loss in San Diego four weeks ago as the turning point to this year’s comeback run.
While the Raiders and Broncos are still considered the Chiefs biggest rivals, games against the Chargers have stolen the spotlight over the past two seasons.
Still, reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound as if San Diego truly views Kansas City’s 2010 division crown as long-term threat to the Chargers’ recent AFC West dominance.
“We went through a lot of things early in the year that were apparent in that game,” Turner said. “When we put that film on and you see no Vincent Jackson, no Marcus McNeill and we had some other issues we were dealing with.
“We were dealing with a lot of issues those first four or five weeks of the season. In the second half of the season we played a lot better and got some guys back.”
The two teams may have differing views on last year’s primetime meeting, but there’s no debating the shift in division balance that a Chiefs win would trigger.
Another Chiefs win on Monday Night Football will flip this division on its head and send future matchups between San Diego and Kansas City to the top of the AFC West’s most anticipated events.
“We were happy to beat the Oakland Raiders last week, but we’re trying to win a division title here,” Chiefs CB