ReFo: Chargers @ Chiefs, Week 17
Both teams came into this AFC West matchup with playoff aspirations, although the Chargers had the advantage of controlling their own destiny. San Diego couldn’t overcome the Chiefs’ pass rush however, and were unable to book a trip to the postseason after falling 19-7.
Kansas City meanwhile, behind a solid if unspectacular showing from Chase Daniels (16-of-25 for 158 yards and a TD) taking over for the injured Alex Smith, didn’t get the help they needed as Baltimore took the last AFC wildcard spot.
San Diego Chargers – Performances of Note
Jeremiah Sirles, RG: -2.2 pass blocking
Breakdown: Rookie free agent Sirles was making his first ever start Sunday against the Chiefs, having seen part-time action the week before (in his NFL debut). It looked like it might be a baptism by fire, after surrendering two sacks and a hurry on Philip Rivers. He was able to hold his own for much of the game though, especially in terms of run blocking.
Signature Play: Q3, 7:37 remaining. Dontari Poe makes a quick move inside, leaving Sirles behind on the way to the quarterback.
Jarrett Johnson, OLB: -2.9
Breakdown: Johnson was having a pretty solid season, but ended up the year with a poor showing in Kansas City. Despite being on the field for just 25 snaps, his second lowest total of the year, he still managed to get pushed around enough in the run game to register his worst run defense outing (-2.4) of 2014.
Signature Stat: Johnson ranks 29th out of 46 OLBs with a Run Stop Percentage of just 5.3%.
Antonio Gates, TE: +2.8
Breakdown: Coming into this game, Gates had posted six consecutive negatively-graded outings, but he managed to finish the 2014 campaign on a strong note. He ended up catching four of his six targets for 67 yards after being shut out in the first half, while saving his best work for the run game, helping open holes for Branden Oliver and Donald Brown.
Signature Stat: Gates finished the year with a Drop Rate of just 2.82, second best among 39 ranked tight ends.
Kansas City Chiefs – Performances of Note
Justin Houston, OLB: +4.8
Breakdown: Houston capped his masterful season on a high note, notching four more sacks to bring his season total to 23 (sacks he has been in on). He added two hurries to those numbers, and was constantly victimizing Chargers right tackles D.J. Fluker and Willie Smith. Smith in fact came in for the injured Fluker temporarily and in just three pass blocking plays, got beaten twice for sacks by Houston.
Signature Play: Q2, 7:23 remaining. With Smith in the game, Houston takes an outside speed rush for the sack on Rivers.
Travis Kelce, TE: +3.0
Breakdown: Kelce capped off his sophomore season with his best performance of the year. He caught seven balls on eight targets for 84 yards, and forced two more missed tackles, bringing his season total to an impressive 17. In addition, he ended the year with 2.26 Yards Per Route Run, second only to Rob Gronkowski among tight ends. His run blocking has also been solid in 2014, although with five fumbles, he will need to work on his ball security.
Signature Play: Q1, 1:57 remaining. A mismatch with Johnson in coverage allows him to take a short swing pass and burst upfield for a 20 yard gain.
Chris Owens, CB: -4.0
Breakdown: Despite San Diego coming into the game thin at wide receiver, Rivers was able to take advantage of Owens throughout the contest. He posted his second straight game of -4.0, after having been victimized often in their win last Saturday against San Francisco. This week he allowed five more receptions for 104 yards, with a long of 44.
Signature Play: Q2, 11:02 remaining. Here he bites hard on the out-and-up move from Eddie Royal, giving up the long reception which led to San Diego’s only points of the game.
PFF Game Ball
Justin Houston’s four sack performance easily earns him our game ball.
Follow Roland on Twitter: @PFF_RolandB