Chargers vs. Chiefs score, takeaways: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce hook up for 3 TDs, including game-winner

Patrick Mahomes once again pulled a rabbit out of his hat. With just over 90 seconds to play in regulation and his team down by four, the Chiefs quarterback constructed a 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a 17-yard catch and score by Travis Kelce, propelling Kansas City to the 30-27 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles.

That game-winning score came after the Chargers seemed to deliver a death blow of their own as Justin Herbert took the LA offense 64 yards down the field to recapture their lead with under two minutes to play. As has proven to be the case during Mahomes’ career, however, you can’t leave him any time on the clock or you risk falling victim to a last-second loss. After the KC score, Andy Reid’s defense was able to slam the door shut as Nick Bolton picked off Herbert with 26 seconds remaining to ice the game and bring the Chiefs to 8-2 on the season. This win not only keeps Kansas City with a strong first-place position in the AFC West, but continues to have them as the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Mahomes finished with 329 yards through the air and three touchdowns, all of which went to Kelce. The tight end was also on the receiving end of six Mahomes completions for 115 yards along with those scores. Running back Isiah Pacheco rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries in the win. On the other side. Herbert was 23 of 30 passing for 280 yards, two touchdowns and that score. Joshua Palmer was Herbert’s go-to weapon through the air as he finished with 106 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Austin Ekeler rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown while catching both of his targets for 17 yards.

For a more detailed breakdown of how this game unfolded, check out our takeaways below.

Why the Chiefs won

Kansas City needed to get off to a hot start in the second half after back-to-back three-and-outs to close out the second quarter were sandwiched around a 10-0 run by the Chargers that put them out in front by a touchdown at the break. Coming out for the third, it was the Chiefs defense that was forcing LA to punt the ball away and the KC offense going on a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead. While that first drive ultimately ended with just a field goal, the Chiefs were able to reestablish their ground attack on this drive as 51 of their 56 total yards gained were via the running game. That kept the Chargers defense honest, which then opened things up for Patrick Mahomes to pass for 150 yards and two touchdowns down the stretch.

Pacheco was the first 100-yard rusher for the Chiefs since Week 4 of last season. If he can continue to be that much of a factor on the ground, that should make Kansas City even more dangerous than they already were.

Meanwhile, you can’t talk about this win for the Chiefs without acknowledging some big performances from a few pass catchers. With the club down a number of starters and/or key contributors to the receiving game, Travis Kelce continued to be an elite outlet for Mahomes, particularly when they were in striking distance of the end zone. In the fourth quarter alone, Kelce’s two receptions went for a combined 49 yards and each were touchdowns that gave the Chiefs the lead. Rookie Skyy Moore also made a number of clutch receptions and finished with five catches for 63 yards in the win.

Defensively, the KC defense was able to apply pressure on Herbert, sacking him five times.

Why the Chargers lost

Los Angeles started the game off hot. It took Justin Herbert just three plays to find the end zone, hitting Joshua Palmer for a 50-yard touchdown. They scored points on all but one of their first half drives, but the halftime break proved to be a bit of a speed bump for Brandon Staley’s club. After going on a 10-0 run to end the first half, LA allowed the Chiefs to go on their own 10-point run as they punted on back-to-back drives to begin the third quarter.

When they started to get back into a rhythm in the third and crossed into Kansas City territory, Herbert completed an 11-yard pass to Keenan Allen that would have brought the Chargers to the Chiefs’ 32-yard line but the veteran receiver fumbled the ball away While Jerick McKinnon would give the ball back to the Chargers on the ensuing drive with a fumble of his own, that did squander a scoring opportunity for LA that would have tied the game at 23 at the very least as they were in field goal range.

The protection around Herbert also seemed to fade as this game went on as four of his five sacks on the day came in the second half.

While this may be a little nit-picky, the Chargers didn’t do a great job of bleeding as much clock as they could have before scoring the touchdown that would give them the 27-23 lead over the Chiefs. After Herbert connected with Allen for the 46-yard pass to put LA in the red zone, they called two running plays to get to the two minute warning.

Coming out of it, they had Herbert drop back to pass, which was dangerous on a number of different fronts as it was deflected at the line of scrimmage and ended up back in the quarterback’s hands. That forced KC to burn its first time out of the second half. The next play, Herbert connected with Palmer for the score, but still left 1:46 left on the clock. With a chip-shot field goal to force OT as the safety net, it may have been a wise idea by Staley to at least force the Chiefs to use multiple timeouts so they didn’t have it on the ensuing drive as they tried to go. and win it.

When it’s Patrick Mahomes on the other sideline, you have to burn as much clock as possible to reduce the odds of what ultimately ended up happening.

Turning point

Have to go with the game-winning touchdown drive here for obvious reasons, right? Kelce was able to get a step on Derwin James on a crossing route and glided to the end zone to give the Chiefs a 30-27 lead. That score capped off a methodical 75-yard drive that took just six plays and 1:15. As we’ve seen from Mahomes in previous games this year, the quarterback utilized his legs on this drive when the Chargers coverage bottled up the passing game. Of his two rushes on the drive, his 16-yard run just before the Kelce game-winner was the most impactful. It brought the Chiefs all the way to the LA 17-yard line. After an initial timeout following the run, KC had a timeout in their pocket and 37 seconds to get into the end zone. While they only needed one more play to do it, that run put them in position for multiple easy shots if they needed it.

Play of the game

While we can point to a number of Kelce’s catches or possibly one of Joshua Palmer’s touchdowns, this 46-yard catch by Keenan Allen was the most jaw-dropping. At the time, it felt like a dagger for the Chiefs as it put Los Angeles inside the red zone after it felt like they were on the doorstep of punting it away. Prior to that bomb to Allen, Herbert was sacked on back-to-back plays and was facing a third-and-18 situation from the Chargers 38-yard line. That catch completely flipped the field and momentarily put the game on its head.

Allen, who made his return to action after missing a chunk of time due to a hamstring injury, finished with five receptions for 94 yards, including that grab.

What’s next

From here, the Chiefs will head back to Arrowhead Stadium and await the Rams in a Week 12 matchup in Kansas City. As for the Chargers, they’ll go on the road and take on the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

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