Chiefs rally to take down Chargers, seize early control of AFC West

Kansas City – The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 on Thursday night as Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 35 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns to overtake Justin Herbert.


Kansas City Chiefs

Jaylen Watson almost seemed like an afterthought when the Chiefs picked him their third cornerback after taking him in the seventh round this year. Watson has already become a key player for the Chiefs.

Playing as starter Trent McDuffie moved to injured reserve this week, Watson delivered the Chiefs’ biggest play in what could ultimately prove to be their biggest win of the season. Watson intercepted a pass from Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in the fourth quarter and returned it 99 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. The Chiefs defeated their AFC West rivals 27–24.

According to ESPN Stats and Information Research, when the Chargers snatched the ball from the Chiefs 3, they had a 73% chance of winning. After Watson’s pick-six, that chance increased to 81% for the Chiefs.

Big Win: The Chiefs (2–0) are the only AFC West team without a loss, giving them an early advantage in the standings.

Buy/Sell on Breakout Performance: Wide receiver Justin Watson caught a 41-yard touchdown pass and another ball as he passed rookie Skye Moore on the depth chart by snap count against the Chargers. Watson worked well with Patrick Mahomes during training camp, so his game comes as no surprise. He was most effective during camp in the Red Zone, where he put his size to good use at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds. Watson should have significant playing time as long as he is fourth wide receiver, which he clearly had on Thursday night.

Disturbing trend: The Chiefs’ short-yardage offense struggled. They were 1-of-5 on third and three or less. These conflicts caused coach Andy Reid to call for a field goal on the fourth and goal from 1 in the fourth quarter, with the Chiefs trailing 17–14. — Adam Teacher

Underlying statistic to know: Eight different Chiefs players had at least two catches, the most tied in a game in the Patrick Mahomes era (since 2018). This is the second time Kansas City has done so in that period. The first also came against the Chargers, in Kansas City last week in Week 3.

next game: At the Colts (1:00 PM ET, Sept. 25)


Los Angeles Chargers

Inside a raucous Arrowhead stadium, where a Week 2 matchup raged into the playoffs, the Chargers were reminded that despite an off-season star takeover, there was still work to do to take the AFC West over the six-time defending champion Chiefs. remains to be done. The Chiefs ended a 10-point deficit to come from behind and beat the Chargers 27-24 on Thursday night.

The Chargers knew entering the season that their advanced roster, which now includes All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack and Pro Bowl cornerback Jesse Jackson, would be tested early, with back-to-back division games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Chiefs. Will play period of five days.

They went 1-1, and now have a starting gauge of what it takes to win a division title or, at least, improve to make it out of the challenging AFC West.

main game: With 10:43 remaining, the score was leveled at 17-17 and the Chargers driving to the Chiefs’ 3-yard line, quarterback Justin Herbert, fired a pass for tight end Gerald Everett that was picked up by rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson. was. Watson returned the interception for a touchdown from 99 yards, giving the Chiefs the first lead of the game 24–17. In the previous game, Everett took a catch and 26 yards on the run to set up the first goal. But the pick-six portrayed the growing pains between Herbert and Everett throughout training camp. The Bolts signed Everett in the off-season to a two-year, $12 million deal.

promising trend: Productivity of receiver Mike Williams. After a quiet Week 1 performance (two catches for 10 yards), and Keenan Allen inactive due to a hamstring injury, Williams made a massive move. In the first half, Williams caught a 39-yard pass to set up a touchdown that gave the Chargers a 10-0 lead. Just outside halftime, Williams made a circus-like play for the touchdown as he caught the dove and held it with one hand for a 15-yard score to top the Chargers 17-7. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the touchdown reception had a completion probability of only 31%, and it was the second one-handed touchdown catch of Williams’ six-year career. Williams finished with eight catches and one touchdown for 113 yards.

eye-catching position: Rookie Xander Horvath caught a 1-yard touchdown pass to top Bolt 10-0 in the second quarter. Horvath, a seventh-round pick from Purdue, also had a 1-yard touchdown reception in Week 1’s 24–19 win over the Raiders. Horvath became the first seventh-round pick to catch a touchdown pass in each of his first two career games since Chancy Stuckie for the Jets in 2008. Stuckey caught a touchdown pass in three straight games to start his career. — Lindsay Thirieu

Underlying statistic to know: Justin Herbert’s pick-six was rare. It is the only pick-six of this century that came in the red zone in the fourth quarter of the draw.

next game: vs. Jaguars (4:05 p.m. ET, Sept. 25)

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