SD-KC grades: Chiefs' offense fuels comeback
Kansas City Chiefs 33, San Diego Chargers 27 (OT)
Here are the highest-graded players and top storylines from the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 1 win over the San Diego Chargers:
Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers, 73.7
Rivers finished with a solid game statistically (25-of-36 for 243 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions), but the Chargers’ passing game stalled after top target Keenan Allen (six catches on seven targets, for 63 yards) left the game with an apparent knee injury. Most of Rivers’ attempts were underneath throws to RB Danny Woodhead (five catches on five targets for 31 yards and one TD) and WR Travis Benjamin (seven of seven for 32 yards). Rivers attempted just eight passes that traveled more than 10 yards downfield, and while the Chargers were protecting a big lead for much of the game, their last three drives ended in punts and their offense did not have a possession in overtime.
Top offensive grades:
RT Joe Barksdale, 82.9
C Matt Slauson, 81.7
WR Keenan Allen, 79.3
RG D.J. Fluker, 78.3
LG Orlando Franklin, 75.1
O-line leads the San Diego offense
San Diego’s offensive line was excellent in pass protection in this game, allowing only seven total pressures (including one sack) on 41 pass attempts. C Matt Slauson and RG D.J. Fluker were both perfect in pass protection, and Fluker and RT Joe Barksdale stood out for their work in the run game. Running backs Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead took advantage of the strong blocking in front of them, combining for 145 total yards (68 yards after contact, five missed tackles forced).
Top defensive grades:
CB Brandon Flowers, 80.3
OLB Melvin Ingram, 74.6
DE Corey Liuget, 74.1
CB Casey Hayward, 73.7
CB Jason Verrett, 71.5
Attaochu makes the case for more playing time
NT Brandon Mebane earned a better pass-rush grade in this game than he did during the entire 2015 season, after totaling two sacks, a hit and three hurries on just 18 pass-rush attempts. OLB Jerry Attaochu was used strictly as a situational pass-rusher (28 of 33 snaps were pass plays), and stated his case for a larger role in the defense. Attaochu finished with one sack, two hits and two hurries, while starter Kyle Emanuel did not record a single pressure in 19 pass rushes and also earned negative grades for both pass coverage and run defense. CB Brandon Flowers allowed 4 of 8 completions for 36 yards into his coverage, earning the best grade among San Diego defensive backs.
Quarterback grade: Alex Smith, 78.8
Smith grades well in leading comeback effort
Alex Smith led the Chiefs back from a 21-3 first half deficit, finishing 34 of 45 for 363 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also added the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a speed-option run, his only designed rushing attempt of the game. Smith finished 9 of 14 for 176 yards and a touchdown on passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield, and picked on Chargers LB Manti Te’o throughout the game, completing all seven of his passes for 51 yards into Te’o’s coverage.
Top offensive grades:
TE Travis Kelce, 82.3
RG Laurent Duvarney-Tardif, 79.4
QB Alex Smith, 78.8
RB Spencer Ware, 76.3
RT Mitchell Schwartz, 75.7
Line helps fuel Chiefs’ offensive success
Even though they fell into an early deficit and were forced to abandon any semblance of run/pass balance, Kansas City’s offensive line did a nice job protecting QB Alex Smith. None of the Chiefs’ starting offensive linemen earned a negative pass-protection grade, and RG Laurent Duvarney-Tardif followed up last season’s strong second half (no sacks or hits allowed after Week 8) with an encouraging start to 2016. Duvarney-Tardif was perfect in his 55 snaps in pass protection, and also graded positively on run plays.
Top defensive grades:
OLB Tamba Hali, 77.4
SS Eric Berry, 71.6
CB Philip Gaines, 67.8
CB Steven Nelson, 52.6
FS Ron Parker, 52.3
Chiefs’ front-seven play is worrisome
Outside of OLB Tamba Hali (team-best 77.4 overall grade, three hurries), Kansas City’s front seven was consistently ineffective. Despite finishing with eight total tackles, LB Justin March-Lillard struggled to get off of blocks in time to make a positive impact, and finished with a team-worst 31.5 grade. Starting defensive ends Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard combined for 51 pass-rush attempts without recording a single pressure, and LB Derrick Johnson missed three tackles.
Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.