Chargers Pull Off Upset Win Over Division Rival Chiefs

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert celebrates the big win over the Chiefs.

Chargers Pull Off Upset Win Over Division Rival Chiefs

The Los Angeles Chargers pulled out a thrilling 30-24 upset victory on the road Sunday by forcing four Kansas City turnovers and holding Patrick Mahomes in check.

Los Angeles (2-1) earned an important win inside the extremely competitive AFC West, handing Mahomes only his third career loss to a division opponent. The Chiefs (1-2) drop under .500 for the first time in the Andy Reid era and currently sit on the bottom of the division standings.

Quarterback Duel

In a matchup between two of the best quarterbacks in the league, fireworks were to be expected. Second-year signal-caller Justin Herbert put on a fantastic performance, throwing for 281 yards and four touchdowns including the game-winner to Mike Williams. Mahomes finished with 260 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two costly interceptions, the last of which set up the Williams score to seal the game.

Tied at 24-24 with less than two minutes remaining, the Chiefs faced a 3rd-and-8 and could feel the momentum slowly slipping away. Joey Bosa pressured Mahomes and forced him out of the pocket. With perfect coverage downfield, Mahomes had nowhere to go but forced an ill-advised ball into double coverage. Alohi Gilman came down with it for his first career interception, giving the Chargers all they needed to pull off the win inside hostile territory.

Chiefs Get Turnover Happy

The Chiefs’ offense started the game with tremendous energy, moving the ball at will and driving deep into Chargers’ territory on each of their first three possessions. The Los Angeles defense played their best football in short-field situations and tightened up near the red zone. On the day, the Bolts forced four turnovers (three in the first half) converting the Chiefs’ miscues into three touchdowns which ultimately decided the game. Turning the ball over for Reid’s unit is uncharacteristic, to say the least. The Chiefs offense committed just 16 the entire 2020 season.

Chargers Offensive Firepower

In the midst of a contract year, Williams routinely made game-changing plays, finishing with seven catches, 122 yards, and two touchdowns. Running back Austin Ekeler also had an efficient day with the ball in his hands. He racked up 107 all-purpose yards and scored off a 16-yard reception. Leading the Chargers’ offense in targets (12) and catches (8) was Keenan Allen. With only 50 yards of offense to his name, Allen was still a crucial part of the Charger’s success as he picked up multiple first downs and kept drives alive.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

After being called for a total of 12 penalties last week, fixing the mental mistakes was a major priority coming into Sunday’s matchup. The Chargers brought that number down to eight against Kansas City. Even though they didn’t come back to haunt them, the Bolts were called for two illegal shift penalties which could have had detrimental effects.

Leading 14-0 in the waning minutes of the first half, the Chargers were in a prime position to put this one away as they moved the ball into Kansas City territory. Facing a 4th-and-4, Herbert found Allen over the middle for the first down and a solid pickup into the red zone. The play was erased as Jalen Guyton did not reset, giving the football back to the Chiefs. Kansas City capped off the drive with a Harrison Butker field goal as the Chargers’ potentially big lead was trimmed to just 14-3 at the end of the half.

Later in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles found themselves with a 1st-and-goal situation at the one-yard line. Herbert found fullback Gabe Nabers slipping into the flats and was tackled into the endzone before the six points were wiped out because of another illegal shift. The Chargers overcame these mistakes with some clutch play down the stretch, but this is a completely different ball game without those two disastrous penalties.

Air Quality Control

With Chris Harris Jr. missing this game due to injury, it was up to the rest of the Chargers secondary to limit the Chief’s top playmakers in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. The Bolts limited the explosive combo to just 12 receptions for 160 yards and no touchdowns. The Chargers gave up some receptions over the middle but made it a point of emphasis to not be beaten over the top. Head coach Brandon Staley deployed a great game strategy that the Los Angeles secondary executed to perfection. Both Kelce and Hill entered the game ranked in the top-10 in the league in total receiving yards.

Next on the Schedule

Next week, Los Angeles welcomes the AFC West-leading Las Vegas Raiders to SoFi stadium for a primetime matchup on Monday Night Football.

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Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert celebrates the big win over the Chiefs.