Kansas City, Mo. — Three years ago, Jaylen Watson was working for his mother at Wendy’s in his hometown in Georgia. On Thursday, Kansas City was getting a chance in the secondary because cornerback Trent McDuffie, a first-round pick, pulled a hamstring in the season opener.

Watson took advantage of it all.

With Kansas City and Los Angeles tied 17-17 in the fourth quarter and the Chargers trailing by 3 yards, Watson picked off a throw from Justin Herbert and rocketed 99 yards for a touchdown. Select-6 change.

It was a backbreaker for the Chargers, who were trying to do something they hadn’t done in 10 years: start a season 2-0.

Instead, Kansas City built on that play to win Thursday night’s game 27-24.

Matt Ammendola, the kicker Kansas City signed this week to replace the injured Harrison Butker, kicked a 35-yard field goal with a little more than three minutes left in the fourth quarter to put the team up by 10 points. Herbert then drove the Chargers 73 yards in two minutes with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Palmer. It wasn’t enough.

Los Angeles attempted a punt in Kansas City’s way, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes sat out the rest of the game on his knees.

What was supposed to be a pinball-style scoring fest driven by Herbert and Mahomes turned into a battle between the two often vicious defenses. Taking a 10-7 lead into halftime, the Chargers threatened Kansas City’s offensive line, stuffing the run and harassing Mahomes deep behind the line of scrimmage on every play.

When Mike Williams caught one hand for a 15-yard touchdown on the Chargers’ opening drive of the second half, the restarted Chargers looked poised to run Kansas City away.

But a patient Mahomes began to pick the Chargers apart. And on the next possession, when Mahomes saw Justin Watson rip up the middle in solo, Watson took it 41 yards for a touchdown to cut the Chargers’ lead to 17-14.

Jaylen Watson and his defensive linemen are rejuvenated. Defensemen Chris Jones and George Karlaftis chased Herbert in the second half, and Mike Dana hit the Chargers and knocked Herbert out of the game with five minutes remaining.

He bounced back and finished with a heroic 334 yards on 33-of-48 passing, with three touchdowns. Mahomes — perhaps missing Tyreek Hill, a top threat who was traded to the Miami Dolphins before the season — had 235 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-35 passing. In the game, Mahomes threw the ball to 10 different teammates.

But it was Watson who delivered the heroics.

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