In what may go down as the best regular-season game in Kansas City Chiefs’ history, the trio of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill played lights out. The Chiefs found a way to outscore the Chargers 21-7 in the fourth quarter and overtime. In a night that featured fantastic performances from both teams, Kansas City found a way to land the knockout punch in overtime. The game concluded on a 34-yard connection from Mahomes to Kelce. Kelce proved again why he is considered the best tight end in football. Kelce finished with 10 catches for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Coming Into the Game
Kansas City found a way to win one of the most emotional games of the year. Coming off a short week, Kansas City, like many other NFL teams, was affected by COVID-19. The Chiefs played Thursday night without defensive starters Chris Jones and Willie Gay Jr. due to the NFL’s health and safety protocols. The Chiefs were also without star cornerback L’Jarius Sneed for the second straight game as well. Sneed has been dealing with the tragic death of his brother TQ Harrison. This put a Chiefs defense that has allowed the second-fewest yards in the NFL over the last 6 games coming into Thursday into a hole.
The Los Angeles Chargers started the game fast with a 75-yard kickoff return by Andre Roberts. After two plays, the Chargers were able to push the ball to the Chiefs 5 yard line. The Chiefs’ defense was able to force 4 straight incompletions from quarterback Justin Herbert. On the ensuing Kansas City drive, the Chiefs marched the ball 95 yards for a touchdown on a fullback dive by Michael Burton. The Chiefs’ defense continued their strong play on the following Chargers’ drive. Nick Bolton tipped a quick Herbert throw up into the air and Anthony Hitchens was able to haul it in for an interception. Following a Chiefs’ field goal, Los Angeles would storm back. Justin Herbert ran in a touchdown and threw a touchdown en route to taking a 14-13 lead into halftime.
Chargers Take Control
After being stopped in a fourth-down situation three times, and turning the ball over twice, Herbert started rolling. After running back Joshua Kelley fumbled near the goal line, the Chargers had the Chiefs backed up to their own 2-yard line. On a third-down and three, Uchenna Nwosu was able to tip the ball to himself and intercept it. This gave the Chargers a short field, and they would take advantage of it. On the next play running back, Austin Ekeler got into the endzone to put the Chargers up 21-13.
The Chiefs Answer Back
After two plays that netted five yards, the Chiefs faced a pivotal third down. The Chiefs were then able to convert a crucial third down and five. Patrick Mahomes was able to scramble out of the pocket and find Travis Kelce for a 69 yard gain. Kelce was able to weave in between defenders and navigated his way to the one-yard line. Two plays later Mahomes found Tyreek Hill in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. The Chiefs would also convert the two-point conversion to tie the game at 21 apiece on a pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Chargers Won’t Be Denied
Facing a tie game with 7:44 left on the clock, Herbert would take the reigns once again. Knowing that his opposition is Patrick Mahomes, Herbert knew he needed a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Using a strong mix of physical runs and short passes, Herbert drove the Chargers down the field. The Chargers were faced with a third down and six yards to go at the Chiefs’ eight yard-line. Herbert was able to find the hole in the Chiefs’ zone defense darting the ball into the hands of Keenan Allen. With 2:19 left on the clock, the Los Angeles Chargers took a commanding 28-21 lead.
Vintage Kansas City
In a game that featured continuous momentum swings, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense got the ball back with plenty of time. The Chiefs were able to run two plays before the two-minute warning to get the ball to their own 40-yard line. Seemingly in rhythm, the Chargers would stop the Chiefs on back-to-back plays, forcing a third and ten. Facing a must-convert situation, Mahomes would once again find Tyreek Hill. Hill was able to get free on the right side of the field and gained 20 yards on the play. Following a short one-yard gain on first down, Mahomes got free on second down. Needing a big play, Mahomes recognized man coverage and scampered all the way down to the seven-yard line. On the following play, Mahomes again rolled right and found Kelce for a touchdown. After the Harrison Butker extra point, the Chiefs tied the score at 28-28.
With 1:16 left in the game and two timeouts, Herbert and the Chargers had what they wanted. After a 14 yard completion from Herbert to Mike Williams, the Chargers had the ball at their own 44 with two timeouts and 39 seconds remaining. At this point Chiefs’ fans everywhere were having flashbacks. In past years it has been a recurring theme that spectacular performances from the Chiefs’ offense are not always enough to get a win. History had a chance of repeating itself again Thursday night until one of the line judges ran in and called the Charger’s first down play dead. The call was an illegal shift which put the Chargers into a second and fifteen yards to go situation. After a couple of incomplete passes, including a deep ball to Keenan Allen, the Chargers were forced to punt.
After deciding to kneel the ball and take the game into overtime, the Chiefs received some good fortune. Although NFL overtime rules have not always been kind to the Chiefs, they were able to take the ball first. With momentum on their side, Kansas City knew what to do. Faced with a second and ten, Mahomes found Kelce for a pivotal 27 yard gain. With another incompletion on first down, it was Tyreek Hill’s turn to make a big play. Hill was able to do so. Mahomes stayed strong in the pocket and found Hill on the right side of the field. On the next play, Travis Kelce caught the ball with one mission, end the game. Catching the ball only seven yards downfield, Kelce was able to make several defenders miss on his way to the end zone.
Chargers’ Run Game: Although in a losing effort, the Los Angeles ran the ball extremely well on Thursday night. The Chargers ran for a season-high 192 yards, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. The Chargers’ offensive line came into the game missing both of their starting offensive tackles. In a short-handed situation, the offensive line teamed up with physical running back play.
Kansas City Star Trio: Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce were dominating on Thursday night and reminded the rest of the league how dangerous they are. The best performance of the night though had to be Travis Kelce. Kelce racked up 191 yards receiving, a new career-high. Kelce also extended his NFL record for 1,000 yard receiving seasons by a tight end to six. Mahomes also added 410 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. Tyreek Hill tallied 148 yards on 12 catches with 1 touchdown as well.
Chiefs’ Goal Line Defense: Tonight’s performance was not something the Chiefs’ defense has been accustomed to as of late. For the first time since doing so in the first 5 games of the year, the Chiefs’ defense allowed 28 points. On the surface, a night where you allow 28 points and 428 yards of offense is not very special. But the Chiefs’ defense performed very well when it came to key downs. The Chiefs’ held the Chargers to 2-5 on fourth down conversions and also forced a goal-line fumble.
Looking to win an AFC West record sixth straight divisional title, the Chiefs made a statement Thursday night. With wins over divisional opponents the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles, the Kansas City Chiefs hold a commanding two-game lead in the AFC West title race. The Chiefs also hold a half-game lead for the first seed in the AFC Playoff picture. With the new NFL rules, only the first seed receives a coveted first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Kansas City Chiefs will also enjoy a little time off. Following a short week, the Chiefs do not play again until December 26 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Following the recent surge of COVID-19 cases league-wide, Kansas City will look to use this time to rest up and get healthy for the final stretch of the NFL season.
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