K.C. alive for playoffs after bouncing S.D.

Chiefs' home winning streak in December reaches 18 games

Chiefs 20 Chargers 7

Nfl Week 16

December 25, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Drawing dirty looks in the San Diego locker room was easy after Larry Johnson and the Kansas City Chiefs snuffed out the Chargers' playoff hopes with a 20-7 victory yesterday.

Just asking the mistake-prone visitors if they were flat in the wake of their huge victory at Indianapolis did the trick.

"We weren't," coach Marty Schottenheimer said in a level voice. "We were outplayed."

Indeed. The Chiefs ran their December home winning streak to 18 and kept their faint playoff hopes alive.

Johnson kept up his amazing run with his eighth straight 100-yard rushing game, constantly digging his heels into the wet, slippery turf for extra yardage, dragging tacklers with him.

The third-year pro had 131 tough yards and two touchdowns against a defense that came in as No. 1 in the league against the run and had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 16 straight games.

He scored on a 4-yard dash and an eye-popping, tackle-busting 28-yard catch-and-run down the sideline. Since he became the starter Nov. 1 after Priest Holmes went on injured reserve, Johnson has a league-leading 1,150 yards on the ground.

But he seemed most pleased with improved skills in an area that's drawn criticism of late.

"I was definitely on a mission today as far as pass-blocking," he said. "I think I did pretty well as far as blocking."

While eliminating the Chargers (9-6), the Chiefs (9-6) clinched the AFC West title for Denver.

For the Chiefs to make the postseason, three things have to happen:

They must beat Cincinnati next Sunday.

Denver has to beat the Chargers;

On Saturday, the underdog Detroit Lions will have to upset the Steelers at Pittsburgh.

"Detroit needs to go sign Barry Sanders for just one more week," Chiefs left tackle Willie Roaf said. "It's going to be tough."

Anything short of the postseason is bound to be a big letdown for a team that squandered its chances with road losses to Dallas and the New York Giants the previous two weeks.

"This is my ninth year here and I've been to the playoffs only twice and we've lost both times," tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "Definitely, it would be a huge disappointment if we don't make the playoffs this year."

San Diego was flagged for seven penalties for 58 yards and had two turnovers and hardly resembled the tough-minded outfit that ruined the Colts' unbeaten season.

San Diego 7 0 0 0- 7

Kansas City 7 13 0 0-20

First quarter KC-L.Johnson 4 run (Tynes kick), 9:28. SD-Gates 18 pass from Brees (Kaeding kick), 4:06.

Second quarter KC-Parker 42 pass from Green (Tynes kick), 14:53. KC-L.Johnson 28 pass from Green (kick failed), 1:45. A-75,956.

SD KC

First downs 15 20

Total Net Yards 233 341

Rushes-yards 20-80 37-144

Passing 153 197

Punt Returns 2-3 4-59

Kickoff Returns 4-85 2-42

Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-0

Comp-Att-Int 18-33-1 19-35-0

Sacked-Yards Lost 1-8 2-10

Punts 6-40.8 5-30.6

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-0

Penalties-Yards 7-58 7-48

Time of Possession 25:58 34:02 Rushing-San Diego, Tomlinson 15-49, Brees 5-31. Kansas City, L.Johnson 32-131, Green 4-7, D.Hall 1-6. Passing-San Diego, Brees 18-33-1-161. Kansas City, Green 19-35-0-207. Receiving-San Diego, McCardell 6-58, Gates 4-52, Parker 4-33, Tomlinson 3-18, Peelle 1-0. Kansas City, Gonzalez 5-58, Parker 4-58, L.Johnson 4-48, Richardson 2-20, Kennison 2-19, Dunn 1-2, D.Hall 1-2. Missed field goal-Kansas City, Tynes 52 (SH).

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