In their first match-up of the 2018 season, Andy Reid, along with his new starter at quarterback, were able to outlast the Chargers 38-28 by taking advantage of early miscues by the Bolts on special teams and utilizing the electric seed of wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Less than two minutes into the game, the Chargers were forced to punt following a three-and-out. After a lengthy kick, Hill ran around and up the left side, breaking several would-be tackles on his way to returning the punt 91 yards for a score, giving the Chiefs an early 7-0 lead.
On the Chargers’ second drive of the game, Whisenhunt called a great drive which worked in several traditional runs by running back Melvin Gordon with an end-around by wide receiver Travis Benjamin which went for a big gain. Wide receiver Keenan Allen hauled in a grab that helped move the chains and the Bolts found themselves driving into Chiefs’ territory.
After a 2-yard run by Gordon and an incomplete deep shot to wideout Tyrell Williams, Rivers found Tyrell once again on third down but it went for only a handful of yards, ending short of the first down marker. Chargers’ kicker Caleb Sturgis nailed a 45-yard field goal to make it 7-3 Chiefs.
On the Chiefs’ first offensive possession of the game, it only took a handful of plays for Mahomes to find Hill on a quick slant which he took up the left sideline, after breaking another tackle, for his second touchdown of the game.
The Chiefs and Chargers went on to trade 3-and-outs before the Bolts found some momentum after finally forcing the Chiefs to punt.
Rivers and Gordon combined to make several key plays to keep the chains moving before stalling once again in Chiefs territory. They settled for a 39-yard Sturgis field goal, closing the gap to 14-6 as time ticked away to end the first quarter.
After forcing the Chiefs into another punting situation, the Bolts orchestrated their best drive of the game. On the backs of Gordon and running back Austin Ekeler, the Chargers were able to enforce their will on the ground, popping off several chunk runs in a row. The cherry on top of the drive was a dime of a throw by Rivers to Ekeler in the back-left corner of the endzone as the former UDFA “mossed” linebacker Anthony Hitchens for the score.
The touchdown brought the score to 14-12 following the failed 2-pt. conversion where Rivers targeted wideout Mike Williams on a potential back-shoulder throw.
The Chiefs were able to extend their lead on the ensuing drive following a Harrison Butker field-goal which grew their lead to 17-12.,
On the Chargers final drive of the first half, Travis Benjamin allowed a perfect pass from Rivers to fall right through his hands, causing the offense to stall on a potentially pivotal drive.
The Chiefs would go on to incomplete several hail-mary attempts before letting time expire into the half.
Kansas City opened up the second half of play by orchestrating a masterful drive that ended in a touchdown that was almost too easy to believe. Using motions and other forms of trickery, Andy Reid single-handedly made the Chargers look silly as they marched right down the field, taking full advantage of the Chargers’ mistakes.
The Bolts became the first team to throw an interception on the night as Rivers, following a well-called drive to get into Chiefs’ territory, forced an ill-advised throw into a jumble of players that included Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and a number of Kansas City defensive backs. It was the Chiefs’ Ron Parker who stepped in front of the pass before getting up and taking it back deep into Chargers’ territory. Fortunately for the Bolts, he was soon called down at the spot of the interception instead.
The Chiefs did not care about the change in field position as they marched right down and found the end zone, once again. Mahomes found fullback Anthony Sherman on a wheel route up the left sideline. The 250-pound back hauled in the pass over linebacker Kyle Emanuel and strolled effortlessly into the endzone to increase the Chiefs’ lead to 31-12.
Rivers and company responded with a touchdown of their own after #17 took advantage of a blown assignment to hit Allen for the 20-yard score after Chiefs’ Orlando Scandrick got caught flat-footed. The touchdown strike narrowed the score to 31-20 after Rivers connected with Old Man Gates for the 2-point conversion.
The Chiefs were forced to punt once again on their next drive. Unfortunately for the Bolts, undrafted rookie J.J. Jones, who made the team as a return man, muffed the punt, collected it, and then fumbled it away within the Chargers’ 10-yard line. Reid and Co. took advantage and scored just 4 plays later on a speed sweep by Hill off the left side.
With 9:42 left in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were looking at a 38-20 deficit.
Fortunately for the offense, they were able to lean into the challenge of scoring as quick as possible. Rivers worked his usual two-minute drill magic as he hit a number of his receivers on one of the most important drives of the game. The effort culminated with a touchdown throw to Tyrell Williams in the back of the endzone, helping nullify some of the receiver’s early-games woes.
Down ten points following the 2-point conversion run by Gordon, the Bolts set off to score as fast as possible.
After marching down the field once again, kicker Caleb Sturgis pushed a much-needed field goal to the left and the Bolts were forced to stare at a 10-point deficit for the remainder of the game. After forcing the Chiefs into their final three-and-out, the Chargers could not mount a sustainable comeback without anymore timeouts. After throwing a pass to Ekeler over the middle, the back found a little room to run before being tackled as time expired.