The Chargers and Chiefs had a defensive slugfest on Thursday Night in Arrowhead, with the Chiefs winning in a gritty fashion.
The first-ever game streamed on Amazon Prime did not disappoint. Two heavyweight teams fighting for divisional supremacy in Week Two is a great way to open a new network. The Los Angeles Chargers came to Kansas City on a warm Thursday night in September and looked to take the crown off the head of the reigning AFC West Champs and the Chiefs looked to prove they were still the same old Chiefs.
The Chiefs’ offense looked stagnant throughout the first half of this game, and it was mainly due to the pass rush of the Chargers. Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa wreak havoc on the Chiefs’ offensive line throughout the game, causing multiple miscommunications in the offensive line. Even Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith looked lost at times, and they have been anchors on the line, it seemed like the pass rush of the Chargers and the lack of communication might doom the Chiefs’ offense.
But once the Chiefs started to get in a groove it was hard to stop, and the play calling throughout the game took the Chiefs out of that groove. Some of the gadget plays and quick screens were blown up by the all-around sound defense of the Chargers. The play calling in this game was really bad in situations throughout this game, but it cannot be stated enough how good the Chargers’ defense played. Asante Samuel Jr and Derwin James were everywhere and it probably confused Mahomes and threw off a rhythm they had in some spots in this game.
The great thing about Patrick Mahomes is even with bad play calling and having to improvise, he was all he needed to get their first touchdown in Arrowhead this season. Mahomes showed off his talented right arm for this side-arm scramble score to Jerick McKinnon.
It was a shame they couldn’t keep the same type of play calling on the touchdown drive because it looked like the game was going to be a slugfest the Chiefs wanted it to be, but the offense stalled on multiple drives due to weird play calls or missed blocks by the offensive line in the first half.
The Chiefs’ defense on the other hand was fairly steady throughout the game. Jaylen Watson had to start in place for the injured Trent McDuffie and had some early struggles against Mike Williams, but settled in against the big receiver. Watson, a seventh-round draft pick out of Washington State, had to step up throughout this game and the big-bodied defensive back probably earned a starting role in this defense.
The Chargers were able to have a slim lead going into halftime, leading only by three points and that really shows how good the defense actually played throughout the game. The Chargers’ offensive line dominated the Chiefs’ defensive line throughout most of the game, but they lost some starters on the offensive line late in the first half.
Justin Herbert was very impressive throughout the first three-quarters of this game and made the right throw time and time again, leading to another score at the top of the third quarter. The Chiefs, now trailing by 10, needed to kick things into gear.
Mahomes stepped back to throw on first and ten from the Chiefs’ 25-yard line and slung it towards Montez Valdez-Scantling, but Asante Samuel Jr, broke on the ball as the Chargers disguised their coverage and came up with a pick. It seemed to be the back-breaking play of the night, sealing the game. But after a quick review, Samuel Jr juggled the ball and let go of the ball right as he hit the ground, ruling it an incompletion.
The Chiefs got a first down on the very next play, Noah Gray caught an in route for 11 yards and then Clyde Edwards Helaire got a huge 21-yard run off of a dump-off pass where he trucked All-Pro Derwin James.
Then after two incompletions on the Chargers’ 41, Mahomes stepped up in the pocket and unleashed a dime to Justin Watson, who burned All-Pro J.C. Jackson off of the line and caught the ball full speed down the middle of the north end zone.
The Crowd in Arrowhead ERUPTED. The Chiefs were back in it.
Then for the remainder of the game, both offenses seem to stall as the defenses of both teams settled in. The Chiefs were able to get the ball deep into Chargers’ territory and Travis Kelce caught a ball and ran it to the one-yard line and got body slammed to the turf.
The Chiefs play calling woes continued as on the one-yard line they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone on three straight throws. Instead of going aggressive, Coach Ried decided to kick the ball to tie the game at 17. Which seemed like an odd decision at the time, as the offense seemed to have a rhythm and Patrick Mahomes was ready for it. But alas, the Chiefs went safe and got the chip shot three-pointer off of the toe of Matt Amendola, the relief kicker they signed to replace Harrison Butker.
The Chargers wasted no time, with the entire fourth quarter left, they needed to set the tone to get momentum back and they were quickly moving downfield. Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense went no-huddle the entire way down the field, seeming to fatigue the Chiefs defense, and the offense. Herbert slung the ball to tight end Gerald Everett for a 26-yard gain and got the ball down to the Chiefs’ three-yard line. Instead of letting Gerald Everett substitute out of the game due to his fatigue, Herbert and the offense went no-huddle and Herbert lofted the ball towards his tired tight end.
Jaylen Watson read the play and intercepted the ball at the one-yard line and outraced the entire tired and spent Chargers offense to the end zone to put the Chiefs up for good. Watson was a standout all night for the Chiefs, and this sealed the game for the former seventh-round rookie.
The late-game heroics of Justin Herbert are well worth the talk, he looked seriously injured throughout the last five minutes of the game after a hit to the ribs and landing awkwardly on Mike Danna’s helmet. But the Chiefs came away with a victory in the end off of an onside kick that bounced around.
The Chargers and Chiefs had a great game, it was entertaining for both fans and if everything goes right and both teams are healthy, the matchup in November will be a heavyweight fight in Los Angeles.