KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs have played nearly 500 minutes over eight games and overtime, and so far they have yet to hold the lead in regulation for a single second.
That's the startling reality for a team picked by some to win the AFC West this season.
There have been devastating injuries to key players, including concussions to both quarterbacks. Their top wide receiver held out during training camp, their star running back has had games where he's only received five carries, and a defensive-minded head coach can't seem to get a defense full of first-round draft picks to stop much of anything.
The result is a 1-7 record that has led to fans paying for banners to fly over the stadium pleading for the general manager to be fired, and an organized protest on tap for an upcoming home game in which fans are planning to come dressed in black.
``It's tough, because I don't think I've ever have been part of this exact scenario,'' said Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, who got his first NFL job with the New York Giants in 1981.
Crennel compared this year's version of the Chiefs to the 1983 Giants, who went 3-13.
``That was no fun, because we were doing some of the things that cause you to lose,'' Crennel said on a conference call Friday. ``This team is doing some of those things.''
The most obvious one is turning over the ball.
Matt Cassel threw his 11th interception on Thursday night, which was returned 59 yards for a touchdown by former teammate Demorrio Williams, and the Chiefs also lost three more fumbles.
One of those was a strip-sack in the end zone that resulted in another San Diego touchdown.
All told, the Chiefs have turned it 29 times this season.
``What we have to do is eliminate the situations we put ourselves in where negative plays occur,'' Crennel said, ``and we have to do a better job of protecting ourselves when we're in bad situations to prevent those negative plays. On the fumble in the end zone, we didn't block a guy, and the guy runs free and he's able to hit us and make the play. If we block the guy, maybe we don't fumble the ball, we get the pass off and we're still in the game.''
Or at least, the offense still has the ball.
Even that's no certainty of success, though. Kansas City had touchdowns on just two of its previous 43 offensive series before a late score against the Chargers.
The Chiefs' only win came on a game-ending field goal by Ryan Succop in overtime.
Making matters worse, the Chiefs sustained another round of injuries to key players on offense Thursday night. Running back Jamaal Charles left with a neck injury, though Crennel believes he'll be OK, while rookie guard Jeff Allen sustained a blow to his head.
That pressed into service Russ Hochstein, who was signed just a few weeks ago.
Crennel is also unsure what his quarterback situation will be like when the Chiefs return to the field for another prime-time game a week from Monday night at Pittsburgh.
Cassel lost his job during the bye week, but got it back when Brady Quinn sustained a head injury against Oakland. Crennel had said Quinn would be the starter whenever he's cleared - he hasn't been yet - but seemed to backtrack a bit Friday.
``When he gets cleared, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it,'' Crennel said. ``Any time a player gets injured, you have to look at the injury and see what's going to happen with it.''
Defensive end Glenn Dorsey, who hadn't played in weeks, only made it a few series against San Diego before hurting his calf again. Nickel back Javier Arenas also left with a head injury.
Even the few bright spots for the Chiefs this season turned sour Thursday night.
Succop had made 14 consecutive field goals before banking a 39-yard try off the upright in the third quarter. It was the start of a cascade of problems that turned a relatively close game - the Chiefs still trailed 10-6 at the start of the fourth quarter - into another blowout.
``We're working to fight our way out of this situation we're in,'' Crennel said.
The challenge now is to figure out a way to do it.
Crennel has already swapped quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has run the gamut from throwing just about every down to running every down. The defense has tried every exotic blitz in Crennel's arsenal yet failed to come up with the sort of game-changing plays that San Diego used to score two defensive touchdowns and put the game away.
Perhaps the most apropos image from the game was a screen shot from the NFL Network that showed Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, his right hand on his head, with about two minutes remaining and an expression on his face that looked as if he had a severe case of indigestion.
Everyone in the organization was probably feeling the same way.