Missing Joey Bosa, Chargers' losing streak to Chiefs climbs to nine

CARSON, Calif. -- Same old Chargers, right?

Philip Rivers begs to differ. He sees no similarities between Sunday's season-opening, 38-28 setback to the Kansas City Chiefs and what happened a year ago when the Los Angeles Chargers made their L.A. debut.

You remember that inauspicious introduction, with the Bolts starting 0-4, including three straight losses at the team's temporary home, the StubHub Center.

But Rivers isn't buying that the Chargers are cursed. He believes the Bolts washed away the stench of previous subpar seasons with the way his team played down the backstretch of 2017, winning nine of its final 12 games.

"I felt like we've gotten rid of that," Rivers said. "We've got to go do it, but there's just so many other good things that we did today, other than the score."

"We're going to get better," added Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. "It's a long season, so we're not down by any means."

The bad looked eerily similar to what has gone wrong for the Chargers in years past, as the Bolts have now lost nine straight to the Chiefs.

A point of emphasis during the offseason, special teams remains an issue for the Chargers. Mistakes on special teams led to 14 points for the Chiefs.

Kansas City electric return man Tyreek Hill put the first points on the board with a 91-yard punt return for a score in the opening quarter. And with the Chargers in contention late, undrafted rookie J.J. Jones fumbled a punt, which James Winchester recovered at the Chargers' 2-yard line. Hill scored from a yard out three plays later to put the game away.

New kicker Caleb Sturgis also missed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left.

"That's something that we emphasized and we worked on," Lynn said. "We knew Tyreek was going to be back there. He was back there last year and I don't think he got 10 yards, but we just didn't execute today."

Lynn said that while having Joey Bosa on the field would have helped, his absence wasn't the reason the Chargers lost the game. However, the Chargers finished with just one sack and had trouble corralling second-year pro Patrick Mahomes when he escaped the pocket.

"We had enough to get it done, so that's not an excuse," Lynn said. "But we definitely missed Joey."

The Chargers had even more trouble containing the elusive Hill, who finished with 268 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.

One of the good things on an otherwise nose-pinching performance for the Bolts was Rivers' stat line: 424 passing yards and three touchdowns -- the most yards for Rivers in a season opener during his 15-year career.

The Chargers also got a combined 292 yards from scrimmage from running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.

Rivers compared the NFL's 16-game season to the Tour de France, with the Chargers losing the first stage against the Chiefs on Sunday.

Rivers has 15 more games to prove the Chargers can stand on the podium, beginning on the road against the Buffalo Bills next week.

"It's all of those stages, you know? That's what the NFL season is to me," Rivers said. "There's 16 stages that you get, and you dang sure better win your fair share of them, but it's a long deal. And we're down after the first stage, but we've got a chance in Buffalo to go get a win, and get to 1-1."