“Chargers-Chiefs-Arrowhead Stadium-The Scene of the Crime”
They play for all the marbles tonight in Kansas City, a big time game for the Chargers, an equally big game for the Chiefs.
Arrowhead Stadium, one of the really great football only venues in the NFL, old as it may be, as noisy as something new, like Century Link Field in Seattle or ATT-Stadium in Dallas.
The Chargers-Chiefs, a fierce rivalry that dates back to the old days of the AFL, you remember, Hank Stram, Sid Gillman, Don Coryell, but that was a lot of 3rd and long passes ago.
But Arrowhead Stadium has been the scene of a huge Chargers win, some awful Chargers losses, and the place where careers came to an end.
The best day for the more recent Bolts came in 1994, when then Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer created an angry mob mentality in the stands. It was a Sunday night where a Chargers team came together, emotionally, personally, in a game that highlighted, sacks, cheap shots, penalty flags and fists raised in the air.
The Chiefs played defense like they were shot out of a cannon. Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and all went after Chargers QB-Stan Humphries. The noise, the pass rush, the hits. Late in the first half, with emotions running high, near blood boil, Thomas sacked Humphries hard. As they were getting up, Smith kicked Humphies, who responded. Offsetting flags flew.
Schottenheimer came storming off the sidelines on the field, wanting Humphries ejected. Chargers offensive tackle Stan Brock came across the field , put a fist into Schottenheimer’s chest, nearly knocking him down. More flags flew.
The Chargers scored, and went to the lockeroom with Coach Bobby Ross raising his fists towards the hostile Chiefs fans. The second half belonged to the Bolts. They ran the ball down the Chiefs throat, depositing KC in the parking lot, boarding the bus with not just a (14-13) win, but a unifying spirit that would carry them to the Super Bowl.
That night, that atmosphere, galvanized a Bolts team, driving them to where they have never been since, a game on Super Bowl Sunday.
Arrowhead has been the home to heartbreaks too for the Bolts. Near wins, derailed by wild kick returns. A Paul Palmer 92-yard kickoff return on the final series of one game spelled defeat.
An 85-yard punt return by Tamarick Vancouver in overtime led to another Chiefs win.
Arrowhead was scene of the end of the career of a Chargers exec. Steve Ortmeyer, the GM in the late 80s, was summoned home as his team was pounding out a cold weather win in KC. A night where Marion Butts carried the ball 39-times for 176-yards in 9-degree weather. Ortmeyer was fired hours after the game, leading to Alex Spanos’ hiring of Bobby Beathard.
Arrowhead was also the sight of the beginning of the end of the career of QB-Ryan Leaf. No one will forget, playing in the rain in 1998, and Leaf going (1-15), passing for 4-yards….2-interceptions…2-fumbles…2-sacks..in an ugly blowout loss. The was followed by a lockeroom blowup, his eventual suspension, and all the off field junk he got himself involved in as his career plunged into the gutter.
It’s all part of Chargers history, as they head into Kansas City tonight.
QB-Philip Rivers has had more success than any other Chargers QB in history…(13-13) vs Kansas City…even a (5-7) record at Arrowhead. It’s never been easy for him when he sees Red & Yellow. Yes a (424Y) passing day on opening day this year, but only 5-300 yard games in 26-starts. He has a (36-31) TD-Interception ratio..has taken 56-sacks in those 26-games..and has just a career (84) passing rating when those fans are screaming that Tomahawk Chop chant.
This may be a different year. Yes they’ve moved to LA. The anger-hurt feelings-resentment towards Dean Spanos, will never leave San Diego.
But the appreciation of the greatness of Phillip Rivers, the respect that should be shown towards GM-Tom Teleseco, building this roster, and newly minted coach Anthony Lynn, driving home a different culture, are all reasons to think the Bolts could deposit history in the trash can, and win this game.
The Chargers have had statement game victories this season. At Seattle, at Pittsburgh, places that used to be house of horrors places to play in for the Lightning Bolt.
The history won’t mean all that much when Patrick Mahomes comes to the line of scrimmage, or Rivers attacks a leaky Chiefs defense.
But it is important to know. The last Bolts team that won an emotionally charged game in Kansas City, wound up going to the 1995-Super Bowl.
That was then. This is now. Why not now?