The Kansas City Chiefs played so well without Marcus Peters last week that some wondered whether they were better off without the talented yet volatile All-Pro cornerback.
Peters provided quite an answer to that question Saturday night.
Returning from a one-game disciplinary suspension, Peters picked off Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers twice and caused another fumble in a dazzling performance. Kansas City added another interception of Rivers and rolled on offense to a 30-13 victory and a stronghold on the AFC West lead.
"Marcus went out there and played lights-out football," said Chiefs safety Ron Parker, who had the other pick. "I think he came back with an ego. He wanted to prove to us that he missed us."
He proved it with his actions, even if he didn't want to say it in words.
Peters refused to speak to reporters this week, then declined to speak again after the game, even though players can be subject to fines if they do not handle media responsibilities.
There were plenty of others in the Chiefs' locker room willing to speak for him, though.
"Definitely not surprised," said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who threw for 231 yards and two scores. "He's such a competitor on top of what kind of player he is. He's got amazing ability, he has such great feel for the game – just a heck of a competitor."
But that competitiveness had boiled over in recent weeks, and led to embarrassing incident in New York when he chucked an officials' flag into the stands during a loss to the Jets. Those antics, and a blowup with an assistant coach on the team bus, earned him a one-game suspension from coach Andy Reid.
"He has a chip on his shoulder. That's how he plays the game," Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "Coming back from his suspension, really contributing to this win, it's big."
Kareem Hunt had 155 yards rushing and a touchdown, and hauled in seven catches for 51 yards and another score, as Kansas City (8-6) beat the Chargers (7-7) for the eighth straight time.
Now, they need only win one of their final two games to clinch the AFC West and a playoff berth.
TYREEK THE FREAK: Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill showed off his speed on a 64-yard touchdown catch, beating Chargers CB Casey Hayward. It was Hill's seventh touchdown reception of the season. "He almost overthrew me," Hill said of Smith's throw. "I went to the sidelines and gave him crap for it."
DIVISION DOMINANCE: Reid improved to 10-3 against the Chargers, including his time with Philadelphia, while Smith improved to 7-1. The organization's streak of eight consecutive wins ties the franchise record of eight straight over the Chargers from 1990-93. The Chiefs are 4-1 in the division this season with one game left and 15-2 in the last three seasons combined.
STILL CLIMBING: Rivers' lone touchdown pass went to Antonio Gates, the 86th time he's connected with his trusty tight end. That broke a tie with the 49ers' Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the second-most connections between a quarterback and pass-catcher, trailing only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. The longtime Colts teammates connected for 112 touchdowns.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West with a home win over the Dolphins next Sunday, while the Chargers head to the Meadowlands to face the Jets with fading postseason hopes. "Just keep going," Rivers said. "We've got two games left. Finish it the right way."