KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Norv Turner was asked Sunday whether he could remember facing a more generous opponent, and the Chargers coach sifted through more than three decades worth of memories in vain.
“I can’t,” Turner said finally. “I’m sure we have at some point.”
The Chargers certainly took advantage of their hospitable hosts. The Kansas City Chiefs committed six turnovers, five of them in the first half, and San Diego rolled to a 37-20 victory and sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
Philip Rivers threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, Jackie Battle burned his former team with touchdowns rushing and receiving, and the Chargers (3-1) rebounded from a letdown against Atlanta to improve to 8-2 in their past 10 games against Kansas City.
Matt Cassel threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns for the Chiefs (1-3), but he had three first-half interceptions. Jamaal Charles, who followed his big game last week at New Orleans with touchdowns rushing and receiving, also fumbled twice.
San Diego turned the Chiefs’ six turnovers into 24 points.
“It was like turnover after turnover after turnover in that first quarter,” said Chargers safety Eric Weddle. “A lot of times it’s just guys making good hits, tipped balls. There’s stuff to improve, but we came back after last week, when we didn’t play well.”
Just about the only bright spot for Kansas City was wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown that came far too late to matter.
The regular officials were back on the field Sunday, and both teams kept referee Bill Leavy’s crew busy. They combined for 15 penalties for 150 yards.
The Chargers wasted little time in getting into the end zone, something they failed to do last week.
Rivers capped off a 76-yard drive that was helped along by two pass interference calls on Chiefs safety Eric Berry with a short TD pass to Eddie Royal for a 7-0 lead.
Then the cacophony of errors truly began for Kansas City.
Cassel’s third pass of the game was intercepted by Weddle, giving San Diego the ball at the Chiefs 28. Four plays later, Nick Novak’s 25-yard field goal made it 10-0.
On the Chiefs’ next possession, Charles was stripped of the ball by Takeo Spikes on the first play after a false start. San Diego took over at the Chiefs 5, and Battle pounded forward twice to give the Chargers a 17-0 lead — all before Kansas City had run five offensive plays.
The Chiefs have been outscored 41-6 in the first quarter this season.
“We’ve got to solve it and we’ve got to solve it quick. Turnovers have been killing us,” Cassel said. “We talk about it, but we obviously have to go out there and do a better job.”
Charles fumbled again midway through the second quarter, but this time the Chargers gave it right back. Rivers underthrew Robert Meacham, and Brandon Flowers made the interception.
Kansas City managed to go 85 yards in just five plays, Charles providing the highlight on an electrifying 37-yard touchdown run. But the momentum was squandered on the its next possession, when Cassel threw well behind Tony Moeaki, and Chargers linebacker Donald Butler grabbed hold of the deflection and waltzed 21 yards untouched to give San Diego a 27-6 lead.
Cassel threw his third interception deep in San Diego territory near the end of the half.
“It starts with me,” Cassel said. “I have to do a better job of protecting the football and putting us in position to be successful.”
The Chiefs put together a long drive to start the third quarter, and Charles’ 13-yard TD catch with 8:40 left gave the hardy Kansas City fans still sticking around reason to believe that yet another big comeback could be at hand.
But after rallying from a franchise-record 18 points down to beat New Orleans last Sunday, the Chiefs couldn’t stop giving away their chances of getting back in the game.
They went three-and-out on two straight series, and Shaun Draughn fumbled on the next.
The Chargers put a tidy bow on an easy if underwhelming victory by going 49 yards for another touchdown, this time with Rivers finding Battle out of the backfield for the score.
“It was a total team effort, basically, in not playing very well,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. “It was bad football. You could see it was bad football. But we have a game to be played next week and we have to stay together and not point fingers. … We’re going to see if we can get better somehow, and play better versus good football teams.”
Notes: The Chiefs outgained San Diego 353 yards to 293. … Rivers made his 100th career start. He also surpassed the 25,000-yard passing mark while improving to 9-4 against the Chiefs. … Cassel has thrown seven interceptions and lost three fumbles through four games. … DE Ropati Pitoitua had two sacks for Kansas City in place of Glenn Dorsey (calf).