KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Philip Rivers threw three touchdowns passes and LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for a season-high 71 yards while helping the San Diego Chargers trounce the hapless Kansas City Chiefs 37-7 on Sunday.
Rivers was 18 for 30 for 268 yards and three TDs as the Chargers won their third in a row in Kansas City for the first time since 1981.
The Chiefs (1-6) had hoped a sloppy win over Washington the week before might provide some much-needed momentum. But they played miserably in just about every phase of the game, falling behind 20-0 in the first half.
Matt Cassel threw three interceptions and the Chargers scored their final touchdown when Jacob Hester blocked a punt at the 20, chased the ball into the end zone and fell on it.
Cassel was 10 of 25 for 97 yards, along with the three interceptions. Billy Volek replaced Rivers with more than 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter and a steady rain making the field slippery.
Tomlinson, hobbled by an ankle injury most of the year and unable to practice late in the week because of the flu, had his best day of the season, running for 71 yards on 23 carries. He helped set up the first TD with 36-yard run, his longest since last Dec. 28. The Chargers reeled off 135 yards on the ground after averaging a nearly league-worst 57.6 the first five games.
Vincent Jackson had 142 yards in only five receptions, including a 10-yard TD pass that put the Chargers up 14-0 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Rivers' 51-yard pass to Jackson was followed by a screen to Antonio Gates that carried to the 2. But after a penalty gave San Diego a first down on the 1, the Chiefs defense stiffened and Nate Kaeding kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead.
Rivers directed an 80-yard drive in the first quarter capped by a 3-yard TD pass to Malcolm Floyd. In the drive, Rivers ran 11 yards to the 10 and drew a roughing call on Corey Mays.
The Chargers took a 27-7 lead in the third when Darren Sproles got wide open in the right flat and went 58 yards into the end zone, outrunning safety Jon McGraw, who started in place of a healthy but inactive Jarrad Page.
Rivers' second 51-yard gainer to Jackson gave the Chargers a first down on the 29, but Kaeding wound up missing from 43 yards and the Chargers took a 20-0 lead into halftime after Kaeding connected from 39 yards. Steve Gregory's interception set up Kaeding on a 19-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Kansas City's already injury-weakened offensive line took a severe hit late in the first quarter when center Rudy Niswanger went out with a knee injury. Wade Smith, who started for injured left tackle Branden Albert, moved to center and Barry Richardson came off the bench to play left tackle.
The makeshift line became a problem when Eric Weddle blew past Smith and sacked Cassel for a 3-yard loss in a drive which eventually saw the Chiefs fail on a fourth-and-one and turn over the ball on their own 41. A few minutes later, Jackson caught his TD pass.
The Chiefs broke a six-quarter touchdown drought in their first possession of the second half when Cassel connected with Dwayne Bowe on a 7-yard toss.
With 9:13 left, Hester came in untouched and blocked Dustin Colquitt's punt. The ball skittered perfectly for the Chargers, coming to rest just inside the end zone, where Hester fell on it.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.