Kansas City, Mo. • The Kansas City Chiefs' offense finally proved it could win a game.
Their defense finally let them down.
After driving for a go-ahead touchdown in the waning minutes against San Diego on Sunday, Alex Smith the rest of the offense could only watch as Philip Rivers answered with a 26-yard pass to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds left that gave the Chargers a dramatic 41-38 victory.
It was the most points the Chiefs had scored this season. Also the most they'd allowed.
"I mean, yeah, when we scored, we put the pressure back on them," said Smith, who threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns.
"They'd been good on offense all day, and Philip was playing good, so yeah, there was a chance. But we knew we'd put the pressure back on them."
Rivers was unflappable, though, against a Chiefs defense missing top pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. He took advantage of time in the pocket to shred the Kansas City secondary, and then hit the most unlikely of his wide receivers with the pass that decided the game.
"It was a great throw," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It's a game of inches, and we were off by an inch on coverage. We had a man over top and a man underneath, and they put it right on the spot."
Smith had calmly guided Kansas City (9-2) downfield just moments earlier, completing five of six passes on the drive. His throw into tight coverage to Dwayne Bowe with 1:22 left gave the Chiefs a 38-34 lead, and put the game in the hands of a defense that had been among the NFL's best.
Rivers wound up throwing for 392 yards and three touchdowns for San Diego (5-6), which ended a three-game losing streak. Danny Woodhead had touchdowns rushing and receiving as he picked up the slack for Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, who left with a hamstring injury.
Ladarius Green had a 60-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, and Keenan Allen had nine catches for 124 yards against a porous Chiefs defensive backfield.
"It's one of those you'll never forget, that's for sure," Rivers said. "It's kind of what our season's been about. Can you drive and score at the end in 2 minutes?"