September 10th, 1960 is a significant date in both the Chargers and the Chiefs organizations. Not only is that the date that both played their first ever games as professional football teams, but they happened to play them against each other. The Los Angeles Chargers and the Dallas Texans went head-to-head inside the Los Angeles Coliseum to ignite the rivalry we are familiar with today. Entering the final quarter on that customary Southern California 78 degree day, the Bolts trailed the Texans 20-7 at the start of the fourth quarter. Quarterback Jack Kemp was responsible for the lone score with a touchdown pass to receiver Ralph Anderson.
Kemp became an instant legend in Charger folklore after he ran for a touchdown and threw his second of the game to running back Howie Ferguson in the fourth. Thanks to Kemp’s heroics, the Chargers kicked their franchise off in style with a come-from-behind 21-20 victory. Of course, Kemp’s legacy ended up a little differently thanks to twice defeating the Chargers in AFL Championships for the Buffalo Bills. However, that is a story for another time. 1960 would be the only season the Chargers would call LA home until 2017.
Fast forward to December 13th, 2018. The Chargers were in their second season back in Los Angeles after spending 56 seasons in San Diego. On that chilly Kansas City night, the Chargers found themselves down 28-14 with eight minutes remaining in the game. Much like the cucumber-calm Kemp had done in the first-ever meeting, Philip Rivers drove his team down for two separate drives that ended with touchdowns.
The last one being a touchdown pass from Rivers to Mike Williams with only eight seconds left. Then, a gutsy decision to go for a two-point conversion and the win. Rivers again found Williams for the conversion and with essentially no time left on the scoreboard, the Chargers snuck out of Arrowhead Stadium with a 29-28 win.
The first game ever between these two historic franchises ended with a one-point come-from-behind win for the Chargers. The last time these two faced off? The same story, a one-point come-from-behind win. Now, as we are mere days away from a crucial Monday Night Football clash in Mexico City, will we see another classic showdown between these AFC West rivals?
Chargers Vs Chiefs Preview: Monday Night Football In Mexico
The all-time series currently sits at 61-56-1 with the Chiefs leading. Both teams enter the contest having won only two of their last six games. Overall on the season, the Chiefs are 6-4 and the Chargers are 4-6. Kansas City seemed to be running away with their fourth straight division title. However, tough back-to-back losses to the Texans and Colts sent their season in a bit of a tailspin. Then, in a 30-6 victory over the Broncos, reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes dislocated his kneecap.
The Chiefs went 1-1 with Matt Moore as the starter. Then in Mahomes’ first game back since being injured, the Chiefs lost a close one on the road to the Tennessee Titans in a game that ended with a blocked field goal. Almost as dramatic as the Chargers’ loss to the Titans earlier this season. We are all aware of the Melvin Gordon goal-line fumble that gave the Titans the win.
The stereotypical narrative of this game is that the Chiefs will probably run away with it. Not so fast, even though the Chargers have faced plenty of adversity this year, they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. If they do beat the Chiefs, they will only be one game back from the AFC West lead. The Chargers haven’t lost a game by more than seven points all year and you probably could have guessed that neither have the Chiefs.
The Chargers’ rushing attack has improved the last two weeks. Melvin Gordon has rushed for 188 yards in the last two games to go along with three rushing touchdowns. New offensive coordinator Shane Steichen seems to be implementing packages that involve both Gordon and Swiss army knife Austin Ekeler. This strategy may not be as effective as you may think.
We have gotten two samples of what the Chargers offense can look like under Steichen. Against the Packers, the Chargers offense was efficient. Even though Ekeler was only on the field for 34% of the snaps, which is the lowest of the season, he received 16 touches against Green Bay, the most since Gordon’s return. The Chargers beat the Packers. Against the Raiders, Ekeler was on the field for 45% of offensive snaps but only touched the ball a total of eight times. The Chargers lost to Oakland.
Now, giving Ekeler more touches does not necessarily equal wins. However, now that Gordon is back and seemingly finding his rhythm, getting both of these running backs going makes the Chargers a dangerous team. It also gives them a really good chance to defeat the Chiefs.
Kansas City boasts a tough offense to halt, we all know that at this point. They also have a defense that really struggles to stop running backs. In their last three games, they allowed 226 total yards and two touchdowns to Aaron Jones of the Packers, 116 total yards to Dalvin Cook of the Vikings, and 191 total yards and two touchdowns to Derrick Henry of the Titans. Coach Steichen getting both Gordon and Ekeler involved in his play-calling seems almost compulsory.
The Chiefs could potentially get back left tackle Eric Fisher who has been sidelined with a groin injury. He has been a full participant at practice this week which would be a huge boost against the Chargers daunting pass rush. The Chiefs offensive line is pretty decimated by injuries. Arguably just as bad as The Chargers line. Which group will actually hold up better will be a huge deciding factor in this game.
A struggling Chargers offense faces a Jekyll and Hyde Chiefs defense while the Chargers improved defense faces an explosive Chiefs offense led by one the premier quarterbacks in the NFL. With so many stakes riding on this primetime game, this one can go either way. If the game is anything like their very first meeting in 1960 or their most recent in 2018, we are all in for some fun football.