The Chargers went in to Arrowhead Stadium desperate for a win on Sunday afternoon. They had played five close games, all of which came within one score. But leave it to the Chiefs to end that streak of nail-biters. Patrick Mahomes sliced and diced the Chargers secondary to the tune of 321 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, alone. Despite the Chargers keeping it within a touchdown well into the fourth quarter, Mahomes’ fourth score of the night extended their lead to 14 which would hold for the final score of 31-17.
Justin Herbert was once again placed in the position to throw his team to victory. This time, unfortunately, they were down a whopping 14 points and not just three or seven. The Chargers converted on a fourth-and-16 with 2:40 remaining to give the fan base some semblance of hope. Six plays later, Herbert overthrew Keenan Allen for his second of two interceptions on the night.
The Chargers are now 2-4 in a year where making the playoffs was the baseline for their expectations. In year three of the Brandon Staley era, this was supposed to be the best campaign yet. But the same issues are still here, regardless of who is suiting up, calling the plays, or contributing to the game.
No amount of coaching cliches will help ease the wounds this team continues to inflict upon themselves. Whether it’s the physical or emotional kind, it’s always something. So here they stand, two games below .500 on the year with 12 games remaining and no bye week to break it up.
Where do they go from here? Do they become sellers ahead of the NFL’s trade deadline next month? Do they miraculously turn things around like a season ago and make clinch a spot in the postseason?
Your guess is as good as mine.
For the compete quarter-by-quarter recap of today’s game, continue on below!
The Chiefs won the toss and chose to defer. Chargers offense was up first.
Justin Herbert and Co. managed just one first down on their opening drive, but that was given to them via a defensive holding penalty on the Chiefs. Their drive stalled on the new set of downs and they punted following a third-down sack of Herbert.
The Chiefs looked as if they had scored on a long screen pass to running back Jerrick McKinnon, but a illegal block in the back was called on left guard Joe Thuney so they walked it back. The Chargers defense finally got a stop on third down and forced a short field goal. A little over halfway into the opening quarter, the Chiefs led 3-0.
Herbert and the offense found some momentum on their second drive of the game with connections to Keenan Allen and Josh Palmer helping move them into Chiefs territory. On a second-and-8 at the Chiefs’ 24-yard line, Herbert took the snap and was immediately greeted by linebacker Willie Gay coming unblocked off the left side of the line. Gay brough down Herbert for a loss of 13 yards. After a third-down incompletion to Austin Ekeler, Cameron Dicker trotted on the field and knocked home a career-long 55-yard kick to tie the game at 3-3.
To begin the second quarter, the Chiefs converted on third down with a short pass from Mahomes to Travis Kelce. On the very next play, Mahomes scrambled to his right on a broken play before lofting a pass to Marquez Valdez-Scantling who came streaking across from the other side of the field. He hauled in the pass, scooted up the sideline, and dodged a tackle attempt by Asante Samuel Jr. before tumbling into the end zone to give the Chiefs a 10-3 lead.
The Chargers responded with a seven-play, 75 yard drive which was exclimated by a huge 49-yard touchdown run by Joshua Kelley.
The scoring only continued as the second quarter ticked on.
Kansas City responded once again with a very short, four-play drive headlined by a 53-yard catch-and-run by Travis Kelce. On the next play, Mahomes found rookie Rashee Rice for the score.
On the other side, Herbert found Joshua Palmer for their own massive gain of 60 yards. The Chargers scored three plays later on a Herbert to Gerald Everett connection to tie the game at 17-17.
Four plays into the Chiefs’ next drive, Mahomes lofted a deep throw up the left sideline to Mecole Hardman but it was just short enough to be intercepted by Asante Samuel Jr. who undercut the ball at the last second. However, the Chargers couldn’t do anything with the ball and punted it back to Kansas City. JK Scott was also able to pin them within their own five-yard line.
It took just two plays for the Chiefs to get into Chargers territory. After a short throw to Kelce, Mahomes hit Rice for another long catch-and-run. The Chiefs ultimately got into the end zone after Eric Kendricks was called for pass interference inside the end zone against Kelce. Kansas City scored on a shuttle pass to Kelce the very next play to take a 24-17 lead into the half.
The Chiefs started the second half with a good-looking drive but it was cut short in Chargers territory by a forced fumble from Eric Kendricks on a backup tight end. It was a massive turnover that the Chargers needed desperately after giving up a touchdown prior to halftime.
Herbert orchestrated the offense down the field with the help of big plays from Allen and Palmer once more. Kelley got a few more carries to help convert on a third down near mid field. The Chargers had the ball at the Chiefs nine-yard line with all four downs but failed to gain more than a yard. On third down, Herbert stepped up in the pocket and attempt to rocket one to Donald Parham over the middle. Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu got a paw up and deflected the ball into the air before it landed in the arms of cornerback L’Jarius Sneed.
Luckily, the Chargers defense stepped up on the ensuing drive and forced another punt.
The Chiefs led 24-17 as the third quarter came to an end with the Chargers driving.
The Chargers and Chiefs traded punts to begin the final quarter. JK Scott pinned Kansas City at their four-yard line with a massive 65-yarder and the Chiefs couldn’t muster a first down back up under their own goal post.
But alas, the Chargers couldn’t move the chains despite being given their best starting field position of the game. They punted back to the Chiefs with a little under 12 minutes remaining.
The punts only continued through the fourth quarter with the teams trading possession for another round. However, on the Chargers’ punt at the 6:16 mark, Mecole Hardman broke several tackles and returned the kick 50 yards all the way to the Chargers 35-yard line.
At the 3:30 mark, the Chiefs scored on a short screen to Isiah Pacheco to make the score 31-17. The Chargers attempted to mount a comeback, but they were once again halted by another fourth-quarter interception from Herbert.
Chiefs win 31-24 in Arrowhead.
Justin Herbert threw for 259 yards on 17-of-30 passing with one touchdown and two interception.
Joshua Kelley led the Chargers with 75 rushing yards on just seven carries, including a 49-yard touchdown run.
Joshua Palmer led the team with 133 yards on five receptions.
Dean Marlowe posted a team-high 11 tackles while Keneth Murray chipped in two tackles for loss and the team’s only sack.
The Charges are back at home next week to play the 2-5 Bears on Sunday Night Footbal.