KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -They've brainstormed, soul-searched, and studied film until their eyes turned bleary.
In their quest for an answer to this perplexing mystery, they've bounced theories off each other and off the wall.
Still, nobody can solve Kansas City's case of the disappearing third quarter.
``In the fourth quarter, we're OK,'' said a frustrated head coach Herm Edwards. ``It's just that one little quarter for some reason.''
In the last seven games, starting when their quarterback situation stabilized and they became more or less competitive, the rebuilding Chiefs (2-11) have taken the lead into halftime on four different occasions. In another game, they were tied.
But they're 1-6 in those games, largely due to the fact they've been outscored in the third quarter 53-13. In the fourth quarter, the cumulative score is a reasonable 37-37 tie.
st staying on the field.
But nothing seems to work. Last week at Denver, the Chiefs led the Broncos 17-14 at halftime but squandered a great scoring opportunity in the third quarter and wound up losing 24-17.
``We had a chance to put some points on the board from the 30 and we go backward,'' Edwards said. ``It was the third quarter again.''
Another good example was Nov. 9 in San Diego. With Tyler Thigpen throwing touchdown passes to Mark Bradley and Tony Gonzalez, the Chiefs went into halftime leading 13-6. But shut out in the third quarter, they lost 20-19.
Now the Chargers (5-8) are back for a rematch on Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium and the Chiefs are still groping for answers to the third-quarter woes that haunted them in San Diego.
``You throw around your ideas,'' Gonzalez said. ``Herm, he was really attacking that third quarter for a couple of weeks. We were talking about it, (saying) 'We're really going to come out in the third quarter!'
``But we still come out there and don't play well. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the young players not keeping their focus. Maybe it's the coaches not staying as aggressive. It seems like we're playing just as hard. But it's been our Achilles' heel.''
Edwards has even given serious thought to keeping his players on the field during the intermission.
aid. ``You think we'll just stay out there and keep practicing. But you can't do that. So we're stuck. We've got to go somewhere.''
Since they last met, the Chargers have had plenty of problems of their own, breaking a three-game losing skid in their last game on Dec. 4 with a 34-7 blowout of Oakland.
Philip Rivers has thrown a career-high 26 touchdown passes and leads the NFL with a 102.0 rating, and linebacker Shaun Phillips is leading the team with 6 1/2 sacks - exactly one-half more than KC's league-worst team total.
The Chargers know the youthful Chiefs look capable of beating anyone, especially at home.
``There's a lot of young guys out there playing and playing well,'' Rivers said. ``I know their record may not say it, but every week they're in the game. Every week is close and could have gone the other way.''
Historically, Arrowhead Stadium has not been kind to the Chargers, who are only 4-14 in Kansas City since 1990.
``This time of year, man, it's very difficult,'' said tight end Antonio Gates. ``We all know that in December, going to Kansas City is very tough. So we just want to go in and establish how to play Chargers football this week. We've had a rough up-and-down season and now we're just focusing on finishing out these last few games.''
t every Chief has a theory about what's been happening, not everyone is willing to speak up.
``I'd never open my mouth,'' said defensive end Tamba Hali. ``But the things we said we should do, we're not doing. As vaguely as I can put it, the things we say we believe in here, what we say we want to do as a team, we're not doing that.''
Asked to explain, Hali clammed up.
``I'm not saying any more. I'm a player. I just play. I just keep playing,'' he said.

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