The Los Angeles Chargers traveled to Kansas City to battle with their division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, on Sunday. Arrowhead Stadium looked like a sea of red, but that didn’t seem to faze the Bolts one bit. The Chargers soldiered on, marching to the beat of a 30-24 win over the juggernaut Chiefs. This win was extremely important for the Chargers in several ways. In the playoff race, the Chargers now have a head-to-head win over the Chiefs, as well as a divisional win. Considering this was the first AFC West matchup for the season, that gives the Chargers an advantage over the other teams in the division.
More importantly, the Chargers’ win was huge for morale-boosting. After a sloppy and frustrating loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Chargers needed this win. Not only that, it was against the Kansas City Chiefs! Sure, the Chiefs may be struggling at the moment, but they’re still the top dogs of the AFC. These are the Chargers’ takeaways from NFL Week 3.
The Chargers opened the game up strong. After a pass from Patrick Mahomes was deflected by receiver Marcu Kemp, Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. made an acrobatic interception. However, after a punt, the Chiefs got the ball back again…which led to a fumble by Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill. This time, though, the Chargers capitalized on the turnover, capping off a 51-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen. After another Chiefs fumble, this time by running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chargers got the ball back. They promptly drove back down the field, scoring a 16-yard touchdown on a Herbert pass to running back Austin Ekeler. After a Chiefs field goal, the game closed the first half with the Chargers up 14-3.
The Chiefs came out swinging after the half, scoring two unanswered touchdowns. After that, both teams traded touchdowns with each other, bringing the score to 24-21 Chiefs. The Chargers then kicked a field goal, tying up the game with 2:14 left in the 4th quarter. After a clutch interception by Alohi Gilman off Patrick Mahomes, it was Herbert’s time to shine. In only 1 minute and 10 seconds, Herbert and Co. marched 58 yards down the field, scoring a clutch touchdown on a 4-yard connection to Mike Williams. With only 32 seconds left on the clock, the Chiefs desperately tried to drive down the field and pull off a miraculous touchdown. However, they fell short on a failed Hail Mary, and the Chargers pulled away with a huge away win against the Chiefs.
What Went Well
It’s official: Mike Williams is the Kansas City Chiefs’ kryptonite. Williams seems to have a knack for going into Beast Mode against the Red-and-White. Williams hauled in seven catches on nine targets for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Staley seems to be finally utilizing Williams the way he was meant to be. He’s not just some big body to throw deep passes to; he deserved to have a more expanded role in the passing game. That simple change in game plan is paying dividends for the Chargers’ air attack.
The Chargers’ defense will likely start appearing in Patrick Mahomes’s nightmares in the coming week. The Chargers’ defense forced four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) from the Chiefs’ offense. This squad’s performance was a far cry from last week against the Cowboys, which makes it difficult to gauge how good the squad actually is. One thing’s for sure: if the Chargers defense keeps this energy, the team will have no issue making the playoffs.
What Did Not
Even though the Chiefs’ offense struggled to keep the ball in their own hands, that didn’t stop the Mahomes-Kelce connection. Kelce was still able to rack up seven catches on 11 targets for 104 yards, even with all their offensive struggles. The Chargers need to stop letting opposing teams move the ball down the field so easily.
For all of the things that went right for the Chargers, leave it to the kicking to not follow suit. Vizcaino went 1/1 on field goals, making his sole attempt from 24 yards. However, he also managed to miss two extra points, going 1/3 on the day. It almost seems like Chargers tradition to build insanely talented rosters, yet never have a solid kicker. The Chargers need more reliable kicking from Vizcaino, or else close games could be lost due to incompetence.
This game was crucial for the Chargers to win, as explained above. However, there’s no time to celebrate. Next week, the Chargers play the Las Vegas Raiders, arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now. The Raiders are 3-0 and stand atop the AFC West, a place that the Chiefs were expected to be. The Chargers will need to prepare heavily to beat the Raiders at home. These were the Chargers’ takeaways from NFL Week 3.