KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Records were broken, but so were the Chiefs’ slim playoff hopes.
The Chiefs (9-7) kept the Chargers (9-7) out of the playoffs with a 19-7 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
But the Chiefs were officially eliminated from the playoffs as a result of Jacksonville and Cleveland’s losses.
“They finished the season on a very strong note, but we’re all disappointed not to make the playoffs,” Chiefs CEO and chairman Clark Hunt said. “I think the team, the coaching staff realizes we had the opportunity and we just didn’t get it done when we had the chance.”
Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel, who started for the injured Alex Smith (spleen), agreed with Hunt.
“It’s very disappointing,” Daniel said. “When you go out and you take a look at the entire season, we were 7-3 at one point. If you just take a look back overall this season, we didn’t play as well as we should’ve bottom line.”
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, who had four of the team’s seven sacks, set a new single-season sack record with 22, surpassing Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas’ 20 sacks set in 1990.
“The guy’s a freak,” Daniel said of Houston. “They’re trying to chip him out there, trying to double team him and he played with vengeance today.”
San Diego kicker Philip Rivers agreed with Daniel.
“He’s a big, strong, powerful guy that can beat you around the corner and beat you inside,” he said.
Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos eclipsed the Chiefs rookie record for most points by a kicker with four field goals on the day.
Daniel orchestrated an 11-play 54-yard drive and completed his first seven passes in his first drive of the season.
The Chiefs had to settle for a Cairo Santos 43-yard field goal, the lone points of the first quarter, on that first drive that saw Daniel complete passes to five different targets.
The Chiefs got used to settling on field goals as they were 1-for-4 in the red zone and failed to find the end zone four times while inside the 10-yard line.
“We need to do better there,” Reid said. “You can’t have the penalties, you can’t give away things. So when you’re driving, you maintain the drive.”
The one time the Chiefs did find the end zone, it appeared to be the first wide receiver touchdown of the season. Daniel found Dwayne Bowe 11 yards out for a touchdown with 12 minutes left in the second quarter.
Bowe, however, let the ball slip out of his hands before apparently breaking the plane of the end zone. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce made a clear recovery in the end zone.
Officials reversed the initial call, but credited Kelce with his sixth touchdown of the season, leading to the Chiefs taking a 13-7 lead into the locker room at the half.
Daniel, who completed 13-of-17 passes for 117 yards in the first half, was efficient early after only taking first-team reps on Friday.
The second half was a different story for Daniel, who went 3-of-10 in the second half for 40 yards in the final two quarters.
“Quite honestly, my play stunk in the second half,” Daniel said. “I didn’t play like I wanted to and that falls on me. I felt like I took some completions early and I just couldn’t buy a couple completions in critical moments in the game in the second half.”
Daniel finished the game completing 16-of-27 passes for 157 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Daniel couldn’t find a wide receiver in the end zone for a touchdown making the Chiefs the fourth team to ever do so and the first team since the New York Giants in 1964.
The Chiefs defense held San Diego to a touchdown and surrendered 361total yards. The defense did not allow a quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards all season.
Chiefs backup safety Kurt Coleman was a highlight in the secondary as he corralled two interceptions.
Houston has day for the books
Houston had a monster day, sacking Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers three times and breaking Derrick Thomas’ franchise sack record.
Houston’s third sack in the fourth quarter gave Houston his 22nd sack on the year, just a half-sack shy of Michael Strahan’s NFL record.
“It’ll mean a lot one day, but I’m still disappointed that we won’t be playing next week,” Houston said.
Santos breaks records
Twenty-five of the Chiefs’ 31 points in the final two games came from the rookie’s leg.
Santos converted 25-of-30 attempts in his first season in the league.