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Chargers Fall In Overtime To Chiefs: By The Numbers

The Los Angeles Chargers battled valiantly but fell in overtime at the hands of the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs Thursday night.

After falling behind 10-0, Los Angeles quickly regained its composure and rattled off two consecutive scoring drives to give them a 14-10 advantage going into halftime. Later in the fourth quarter, Justin Herbert connected with Keenan Allen for an 8-yard touchdown that put the Bolts up 28-21 with 2:19 remaining in regulation.

Unfortunately for the Bolts, those two minutes were all Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs would need to tie the game up and push it to overtime. A favorable outcome on the coin toss meant Kansas City would receive. Five plays into the overtime period, Mahomes hit Travis Kelce from 34 yards out who outran the defense into the endzone for the walk-off score.

The Chargers (8-6) are still in the thick of the playoff race and currently own the No. 5 seed if the season ended today. The Chiefs (10-4) now have a stronghold on top of the division but will have to take care of business down the stretch if they hope to secure their third straight AFC West crown. Technically, the Bolts can still win the division if they win out and the Chiefs drop their final division games to the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders.

I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow Chargers fans, but let’s look at some of the key numbers in this heartbreaking loss.

NINE

Being an aggressive football team and going for it on fourth down has become a staple of rookie Head Coach Brandon Staley’s system. Whether you love it or hate it, this is how the Chargers have decided to play football in 2021. In the team’s greatest victories this season, huge plays were made on fourth down conversions. The Bolts entered the game with a 61.9% conversion rate on fourth down across 21 attempts. Against the Chiefs, the Chargers’ ability to make game-changing plays in the clutch abandoned them and had a huge impact on the outcome of this game.

On Thursday, the Chargers attempted five fourth-down conversions and converted just two. On the three failed attempts, the Bolts found themselves in two goal-to-go situations and on all three were well inside of field goal range for kicker Dustin Hopkins. Despite favorable field position, Los Angeles came away from those trips with zero points. Staley’s decision to go for it on fourth in effect took NINE points off the board. Three points would have been enough to give the Bolts the victory at the end of regulation, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Regardless of what the rest of the league thinks, Staley and the Chargers are committed to their brand of football. Los Angeles is building a culture and building, inevitably, takes time. The Bolts are brewing up something dangerous and it’s only a matter of time until they are ready to unleash it. The rest of the league better pay attention.

SIXTY-EIGHT

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Chargers did a fantastic job limiting the explosive plays the Kansas City offense is predicated on. Specifically, the Los Angeles defense played extremely well at limiting the impact of tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill. Neither of those players scored back in week three and though the duo combined for 12 catches and 160 yards, they didn’t quite impact the game like they normally do.

On Thursday, Los Angeles played without rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. who remains in concussion protocol and lost safety Derwin James early in the contest due to a lingering hamstring injury. Undermanned, the Chargers secondary had an extremely difficult task to try and slow down two of the league’s most explosive playmakers. The pair torched the defense and combined for more than SIXTY-EIGHT percent of the Chiefs’ total offensive output.

Kelce had a career day, hauling in 10 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns including the game-winner in overtime. He also corralled a 69-yard bomb that he took to the Los Angeles one-yard line that set up another Chiefs score. Hill used his blazing speed to terrorize the Chargers’ defense and finished with 12 catches, 148 yards, and two touchdowns. Out of the combined 26 targets sent their way, only four passes were incomplete. Los Angeles will need to get this tightened up if it hopes to dethrone Kansas City in the playoffs.

ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO

With the unfavorable result, it’s easy to lose track of what the Chargers did well in this game. At the end of the day, they played a very good football team and had a legitimate chance to pull out a victory. A big reason why the Bolts remained in the ball game was that they got a huge performance from their run game. In an attempt to keep Mahomes cold, sidelined, and out of rhythm, the Chargers ran the ball 39 times for a season-high ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO yards.

Do-it-all running back Austin Ekeler is in the midst of a career year but is starting to feel the effects of an NFL season wear on him. He’s been dealing with an ankle injury he reaggravated last week and was used more sparingly against the Chiefs than he has been earlier in the year. He still finished with 12 carries for 59 yards and a rushing touchdown while also adding four catches and 23 receiving yards.

Picking up the rest of the slack was second-string running back Justin Jackson who might have just solidified himself as Ekeler’s clear backup. Jackson finished 13 carries and a game-high 86 yards for an impressive 6.6 yards per carry. Not as impressive was the play of second-year running back Joshua Kelley. Kelley carried the ball 7 times for 21 yards and had a costly fumble on the goal line when he tried to jump the pile and pick up a touchdown.

The Chargers’ commitment to the run in this game was an interesting decision because it meant relying heavily on the Los Angeles offensive line. The unit entered the game without arguably its best player in rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater and still managed to open massive run lanes. Third-year pro, Trey Pipkins, got the start in Slater’s stead and surprisingly, played extremely well. Pipkins, who has looked severely overmatched early in his career, held his own and turned in a dominant showing against a talented defensive line for Kansas City.

Los Angeles Chargers Return Specialist Andre Roberts. Photo Credit: Ty Nowell | LA Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers Return Specialist Andre Roberts. Photo Credit: Ty Nowell | LA Chargers

Zac Alfers

Author Zac Alfers

What’s up! I’m Zac Alfers, a passionate multimedia journalist who will be covering the LA Chargers. I’ve been working in sports for the past six seasons and I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the LAFB Network. I was born in San Diego and have been a diehard Bolts fan since day one, as well as a proud San Diego Padres fan. In 2007, I moved to the Bay Area and fell in love with the “We Believe” Warriors. Golden State is now my NBA team. I also closely follow the Oakland Athletics, the San Jose Sharks, and I am a huge fan of the UFC.

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