Final point: Kansas City Chiefs 27, Los Angeles Chargers 24
It was a long night, but the Chiefs were victorious in a brutal first-period battle against their AFC West rival. The Chiefs had to withstand a potent Chargers offense before putting together a second-half comeback to secure a 2-0 start to the season. The defense came through in a big way – and it provided a game-changing moment.
Catastrophe (Talon Graph)
Kansas City’s offense was tested throughout the game by a rebuilt (and much improved) Los Angeles defense. Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack continue to cause problems by leading the pass rush. Although the offensive line allowed just one sack, the Chargers’ pressure was clear and present. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes had to do a lot to keep the game alive and get the ball down the field. This game could have ended differently if the defense didn’t come up with a big pick-six play.
The running game was basically nothing; The team mustered just 92 yards. That number was inflated by a 52-yard fourth-quarter run by Clyde Edwards-Heller, which set up the game-sealing field goal. Edwards-Heller led the committee with eight carries for 74 yards. Jerick McKinnon added 12 on four carries — and as a receiver, scored the Chiefs’ first touchdown. For the second week in a row, Edwards-Heller was also effective as a receiver, catching four passes for 44 yards.
Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco had just two touchdowns for six rushing yards. Although he had a chance to punch in the area of the goal area, he missed it. We didn’t see much of him after that. But he was able to come in and make some good blocks to help the offensive line in pass protection.
Preseason darling Justin Watson scored at a crucial moment in the game, making a nice catch on Chargers cornerback Jesse Jackson for a 41-yard scoring strike to keep the Chiefs within three points. Although Los Angeles did a good job of controlling him, Travis Kelce was the leading receiver with 51 clutch yards in big moments. Hats off to McCall Hardman, who made plays when Kansas City really needed them, with three catches for 49 yards.
It wasn’t a big hit from the offense, but he did enough to get the win.
Offensive Player of the Game: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes was running around all night trying to avoid the Chargers’ aggressive pass rush. Even under pressure, Mahomes still completed 24-for-35 for 235 yards and two touchdown passes. He was the life blood to all the damage, engineering every product we saw. It was an MVP performance from No. 15 on Thursday night.
Defense (Brian Stewart)
What a strange, wild ride.
After the first half, Kansas City felt completely different — and the defense was showing zero ability to tackle ball carriers or cover Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams — the team still trailed by just three points at halftime.
The defense finally saved the day in the second half on a night when the offense couldn’t seem to find footing or rhythm. It was rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson’s pick-6 that completely swung the outcome of the game when both teams looked exhausted. The youngster stepped in for the injured Trent McDuffie – and delivered. He 100% really looks the part of a solid player.
The Chiefs’ defensive front put little pressure on Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in the first half — but both (and the crowd) gained steam in the second. Led by Chris Jones, the episode really started hitting on Justin Herbert to create some comfort. Unfortunately, Herbert seems to have been hurt by one of those attacks.
Combat remains the biggest overall problem. Part of that is because it’s early in the season — the time of year when all teams struggle to get tackles. But you still have to find it a lot of Better – or finally cost team games. The same is true for penalties on the second level; cornerback Rashad Fenton had several.
The story of the game – and why the defense was the unit that helped the team win – was once again the third-ranked defense. The class has strung together two straight weeks of good statistical results when it comes down to late. On Thursday, the Chargers were 5-of-16 on third down. They went 4-for-4 in the fourth, but most of those came late in the game — when it was completely out of reach.
Defensive Player of the Match: Defender Chris Jones
Jones stepped up as the defense’s best player to provide energy, leadership — and, most importantly, two sacks in the second half. He also had a great pass deflection.
It’s still early in the season – and both the defense and offense have shown they can improve a lot. That’s a scary thought, considering the team is now 2-0 (and has won a tough AFC West rivalry).