SAN DIEGO – Norv Turner can breathe a little easier after his San Diego Chargers rediscovered the end zone and ended a three-game losing streak.
Romeo Crennel, though, will surely feel the heat after his Kansas City Chiefs committed four more turnovers and lost their fifth consecutive game.
Antonio Gates caught a 14-yard yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers on the game’s opening drive to snap San Diego’s streak of six quarters without a touchdown, and the Chargers went on to a 31-13 victory over the staggering Chiefs on Thursday night.
Turner had been heavily criticized by fans after the Chargers (4-4) blew double-digit, second-half leads in losses to New Orleans and Denver, then dropped a 7-6 loss at Cleveland on Sunday.
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At halftime Thursday, some fans in one end zone unfurled a big yellow banner that read: “Mr. Spanos, please fire A.J. & Norv.”
Team president Dean Spanos decided in January to bring back both Turner and general manager A.J. Smith even though the Chargers missed the playoffs for the second straight year.
Rivers, who looked shaky during the losing streak, complted 18 of 20 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Rivers also threw a 13-yard TD pass to Malcom Floyd early in the fourth quarter.
“It was good to play well but more importantly, it was good to win a game. We needed a win in the worst way,” Rivers said. “(Games) like this, wins like this can jump-start us.”
The Chiefs’ four turnovers increased their NFL-high mark to a staggering 29, which have led to 104 points. They are on pace to commit 58 turnovers this season, which would be the most since the 1983 New York Giants also had 58.
“Romeo told us before the game that we’re going to have to eliminate the turnovers,” said quarterback Matt Cassel, whose fumble and interception both resulted in Chargers touchdowns. “Until we eliminate the turnovers, we will have the same result. You can’t turn the ball over in this league and expect to win.”
The Chiefs (1-7) still have never led in regulation this season. Their only victory came when Ryan Succop kicked the winning field goal in overtime against the New Orleans Saints.
With the Chiefs trailing 17-6 early in the fourth quarter, Cassel fumbled as he was sacked by San Diego’s Jarret Johnson in the end zone, and Shaun Phillips recovered for a touchdown.
On the next drive, Cassel’s high pass deflected off Dexter McCluster’s hands and was intercepted by Demorrio Williams, who returned it 59 yards for a touchdown.
In a span of 2 minutes, 9 seconds, the Chargers’ defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense had in 10 quarters.
Gates’ first-quarter score was San Diego’s first touchdown since the tight end caught an 11-yard TD pass in the first half against Denver on Oct. 15. That score gave San Diego a 24-0 lead, but Denver rallied to win, 35-24.
The Chargers got only two field goals from Nick Novak in a 7-6 loss at Cleveland on Sunday, their third straight defeat.
After San Diego scored on the opening drive Thursday, Kansas City went on a 17-play drive, but Dwayne Bowe fumbled after a 10-yard reception. Williams caused the fumble, and Quentin Jammer recovered.
The Chargers had a third-and-goal from the 1 in the closing seconds of the first half, but Rivers was intercepted by Eric Berry.