Rookie Dexter McCluster returned his first NFL punt 94 yards for a touchdown, breaking the club record for longest punt return previously held by Dante Hall.
The defense also contributed a big play in the second quarter when Derrick Johnson forced San Diego running back Ryan Mathews to fumble. Brandon Carr returned the fumble 23 yards to the San Diego 12, setting up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Matt Cassel to another rookie, Tony Moeaki.
Worst of all was Matt Cassel. He did nothing to ease growing concerns. Rain and wind made it a miserable night to be a quarterback, but Rivers went 22 of 39 for 298 yards in the same conditions that Cassel went 10 of 22 for 68 yards. This will be a big part of the narrative going forward, and it’s a scary one for the Chiefs on a lot of levels.
McCluster, the tiny but dazzling playmaker, broke a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter Monday night, shifting momentum to the Chiefs in their unlikely 21-14 win against San Diego on national television. The return was the longest in Chiefs history, a yard longer than Hall’s best, a 93-yarder against Denver in October 2003.
With the score tied 7-7 midway through the second quarter, San Diego rookie Ryan Mathews burst through a hole for a 15-yard gain. But Johnson, coming from the back side, ripped the ball from Mathews’ grasp, and cornerback Brandon Carr scooped up the ball and returned it 23 yards to the Chargers’ 12.
“We strive to make sure we are providing a world-class fan experience,” said Mark Donovan, Chiefs executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The biggest example of that is the game-day experience, from being on our website figuring out how to get to the stadium, to tailgating … to providing an exciting experience on and off the field.”