The Chargers, for what seems like the millionth time, were this close to beating the Chiefs.
But the duo of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce is inevitable. Truly.
Heading into Sunday night, the Chiefs had won their previous five games when down at halftime. They pushed that streak to six against the Chargers after staring down a 20-13 deficit at the break.
Justin Herbert looked like his usual self with Keenan Allen on the field for a good portion of the game. The two combined for the catch of the game late int he fourth quarter, but it wound up being irrelevant as the Chiefs took the lead at the end and shut down any chance of a happy ending for the Chargers.
On the final drive, Herbert’s pass was deflected by a Chiefs defender into the arms of linebacker Nick Bolton. That sealed the deal on a dramatic 30-27 victory for the Chiefs.
It was as entertaining of a game as you can expect from these two teams, but the outcome was written on the wall far before the final seconds of regulation ticked off the clock.
For a complete quarter-by-quarter recap of tonight’s game, check it all out below.
The Chargers won the coin toss and chose to defer.
Facing the Chiefs offense to kick things off, the defense looked suspect early on with rookie running back Isiah Pacheco breaking a big run to help bring the Chiefs into Bolts territory. Mahomes completed a third-down pass to rookie Skyy Moore to keep the drive alive and push them into field goal range. The defense stiffened in the red zone and were able to keep the Chiefs to a field goal when it was all said and done.
Just under five minutes into the game, Kansas City led 3-0.
But who would’ve thought, just three plays later, Justin Herbert would record his longest touchdown pass of the season with a 50-yard bomb to Joshua Palmer. Allen also recorded a reception on Herbert’s first attempt of the game which went for 17 yards.
So in a blink, the Chargers were on top 7-3.
The Chiefs responded with a couple big plays to get back into Chargers territory, but the defense once again got a stop short of the end zone and Harrison Butker pushed a nother kick through to get back within one at 7-6.
Herbert continued to look dialed in on the ensuing drive, hitting both Palmer and Mike Williams near the right sideline as they marched down the field. Austin Ekeler also ran the ball well for chunk gains to stay ahead of the chains. Unfortunately, Williams came up limping following his catch and did not return on the drive. Herbert missed Allen on third down and Cameron Dicker was forced to kick from 46 yards out.
The kick was good and the Bolts pushed their lead to 10-6.
Kansas City took over for their third offensive drive which started with a penalty that pushed them into a first-and-21 hole. It wound up being a wash as Mahomes hit Kelce on third-and-eight for a huge gain of 34 yards. Kenneth Murray was in coverage which was the Chargers’ first and biggest mistake of the night.
Time ticked away with the Chiefs facing a second-and-15.
The Chiefs would not be stopped on their drive as Mahomes would hit backup tight end Jody Fortson to put the Chiefs inside the Chargers five-yard line. A couple plays later, Mahomes hit Kelce on a quick screen and the tight end began celebrated far before he strode into the end zone.
Like that, the Bolts trailed 13-10 early in the quarter.
BUT HOLD ON!
Herbert and the Bolts weren’t done just yet, either. It was a full team effort as the offense got a hand from just about everyone and it all culminated in a two-yard rushing score by Ekeler. The Chargers were back on top 17-3.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dicker popped the ball in the air and baited Pacheco to catch the ball near the sideline. The rookie took the bait and he caught the ball at the six before momentum carried him out of bounds.
Three plays later, the Chiefs were forced to punt right back.
With 2:41 remaining in the half, the Bolts offense went to work.
Herbert and Ekeler took the ball all the way down to the two-yard line where they faced a second-and inches. The Bolts attempted a toss play which lost two yards and forced the Chargers to throw on third down. Herbert was pressured and had to throw it out the back of the end zone.
Dicker was good on his short kick and the Chargers took a 20-13 lead into the half.
The Chargers couldn’t muster anything to begin the half after cornerback Deane Leonard was called for a hold on the opening kickoff. The offense went three-and-out before punting it away.
The Chiefs capitalized on the momentum swing with an eight-play drive consisting entirely of runs. Morgan Fox got into the backfield on a third-and-one to drop the running back and the Chiefs were forced to kick once again. They minimized the Chargers lead to 20-16 early in the second half.
For a consecutive drive, the Chargers offense went three-and-out. The Chiefs regained possession and went back to work. Before the quarter ticked away, Mahomes converted on a third-and-17 and a third-and-seven to push the Chiefs into Chargers territory.
On a short crossing route, Kelce caught a pass from Mahomes through a diving Asante Samuel Jr., shook out of. Nasir Adderley tackle, and ran up the right sideline into the end zone to give the Chiefs back the lead 23-20.
On the next two drives, the Chargers and Chiefs traded lost fumbles. Allen gained a first down on a screen but had the ball ripped from him by Nick Bolton. On the ensuing Chiefs drive, Troy Reeder punched the ball out of Jerick McKinnon’s hands and it was hastily recovered by Alohi Gilman.
The Chargers got an INSANE catch from Keenan Allen on their next drive to help put them in scoring position. Several plays later, Herbert found Palmer for a seven-yard touchdown to take a 27-23 lead with 1:46 left in the game.
Surprise, surprise. It didn’t matter in the slightest.
It took the Chiefs just six plays to go 75 yards before Mahomes found Kelce for his third touchdown of the night.
On the Chargers final drive of the game, he was sacked and capped it with an interception that was deflected off a Chiefs defender into the hands of Bolton.
Justin Herbert finished with 280 yards passing on 23-of-30 passing with two touchdowns and the game-ending interception.
Austin Ekeler enjoyed a decent day on the ground with 88 yards rushing and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for an additional 17 yards.
Josh Palmer finished with a game-high 106 (tied his career high) and two touchdowns. Keenan Allen caught five passes for 94 in his first game back since week seven.
Drue Tranquill and Derwin James each record seven total tackles to pace the defense. James finished with the team’s only sack, nothing his fourth of the season and setting a new single-season high.
The Chargers are back on the road next Sunday to face the Cardinals.