Everyone got to stream Amazon Prime Video on Thursday night to watch Justin Herbert vs Patrick Mahomes. Instead, Jaylen Watson became the star of the show.
Jailen who? Watson was the Kansas City Chiefs’ seventh-round pick in this year’s draft. He played a big part in Thursday night’s game as first-round pick Trent McDuffie was ruled out with an injury.
In a game full of big names, Watson made the play that decided it.
In the fourth quarter of a tie game, Watson picked up a Justin Herbert pass near the goal line and returned it for a touchdown from 99 yards. This changed the entire game, as the Chiefs went on to win 27–24 in a game that would go on to win the AFC West race the entire season.
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Before the biggest game of the game – and what would turn out to be one of the most important plays of the season – Chargers tight end Gerald Everett was asking after catching a pass inside the 5-yard line. The Chargers wanted to play fast without any hindrance, so they did not leave Everett out of the game. This allowed Watson to jump inside Everett near Herbert and turn on a huge divisional game.
The Chargers will regret the chain of events that happened throughout the season.
not high scoring starts
The game was expected to be high-scoring with two of the NFL’s most exciting quarterbacks, but both offenses struggled to score in the first half. The Chargers took a 10–0 lead, and the Chiefs responded with a fine sidearm touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Jerich McKinnon. Both offenses were quite efficient, but there weren’t many big plays. Both defenses focused on not beating the other team’s strong-armed quarterback at the top, and they mostly kept everything in front of them.
The Chargers struck immediately in the third quarter. He picked up fourth and -1 on a strong Austin Eckeler run. Then Herbert took a swim to Mike Williams, who made an exceptional one-handed touchdown catch. This put the Chargers 17-7 ahead.
Mahomes is right back. Mahomes stepped into the pocket and with a flick of the wrist he hit Justin Watson – who was in play as Mecole Hardman came out before the play to check for a heel injury – deep downfield for a 41-yard touchdown. Even Mahomes’ old teammate Tyrek Hill was impressed.
This set up a tense ending between division rivals in what should be a tight AFC West race throughout the season.
Change in momentum in the fourth quarter
The fourth quarter began with the Chiefs deciding whether to go for it from the 1-yard line and on goal. The Chiefs settled for a 19-yard field goal. It was a safe game, but it leveled the game at 17-17.
It turned out well. The Chargers drove straight downfield and caught Everett inside the 5-yard line. Everett was tired and wanted out of the game, but the Chargers were in a rush mode and didn’t come out. Everett faded slightly on his short route, allowing Watson to jump inside him and catch an interception that he returned for 99 yards to score. It was the sort of non-obvious mistake that could have decided a very important game, ignoring Everett trying to get out of the game.
After that the Chargers went three-and-out, and it was clear that all the momentum of the Chargers built into the three-plus quarter was gone.
Herbert had another chance, though he went down for a few scary moments after a hit. He got up and came back after a play out, but got hit again on his next attempt and got up, holding his side and smiling. After coming back, Herbert had two unfinished passes and the Chargers had four minutes left. Clyde Edwards-Heller then scored a 52-yard run and the game was over. The Chiefs got a field goal to take a 10-point lead.
The Chargers scored with 1:11 on a fourth-down pass from Herbert to Josh Palmer, but the Chiefs recovered an onside kick to take the win.
The Chiefs were challenged by the Chargers, and could be pushed by them throughout the season in the AFC West race. But Watson’s pick-six stole the show. Chiefs fans will remember his name after Thursday night.