Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense struggled mightily in this game but the defense came through with four interceptions to help lead the team to a 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City on Monday night. The Chargers moved the ball better than the Chiefs most of the night but Philip Rivers had his typical game of turning the ball over to keep the Chiefs in the game long enough for the offense to put together just enough to get the win. The defense came up with four interceptions including a huge one at the end of the game in the end zone by Daniel Sorensen.
The win does have a downside. WR Tyreek Hill injured his hamstring. We will have to wait and see what his status is for the game against the Raiders after the bye.
The win was huge for Kansas City. It keeps the Chiefs half a game ahead of the Oakland Raiders in the AFC West. The win also essentially ends the Chargers’ season. If there was any thought by the Chargers of getting back into the race for the division title, this win ends that thinking. The Chargers are done along with the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs now have only the Raiders standing between them and another AFC West title. This win moves Kansas City to 3-0 in the division.
Three of the last five games for the Chiefs are against the AFC West. The Raiders are 2-1 against the division. Four of the Raiders final six games are on the road. All of those games are against AFC West teams. Their two home games are against Tennessee and Jacksonville.
Patrick Mahomes struggled throwing in the first half. His accuracy was not good. He finished the game 19-for-32 for just 180 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. This had to be the worst game of his short career. Part of the problem was the miserable play calling in the second half but even in the first half when Mahomes tried to throw down the field he just wasn’t very good. Every quarterback has bad games. Mahomes did lead the Chiefs on the first two drives of the second half to provide the points needed to win the game.
Player of the Game
Frank Clark was terrific in this game. He had five tackles, a sack, one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits. This was the best game of the season for Clark. Now he was going up against a rookie a lot in this game but he did what was expected of him in this situation. People expect this kind of game from Clark every time out and that’s not reasonable. It is reasonable to get more production from him than we have seen most of the season. Maybe this is a turning point for him. Maybe Steve Spagnuolo is learning what he can call to put Frank Clark in the best position possible to make a play. That’s the job of a coach. Maybe that is starting to happen.
The game turned early in the second half. The Chiefs took the opening drive of the second half 75 yards for a six yard touchdown run by Darrel Williams to put Kansas City up 17-9. On they next possession the Chiefs went 54 yards in six plays ending in a 23 yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce. That stretched the Chiefs lead to 24-9 and that would prove to be enough.
DT Mike Pennel had three tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. He provided good push up the middle in the first half to help slow down the Chargers running game.
CB Charvarius Ward broke up a pass to Austin Ekler in the first half inside the ten to hold Los Angeles to a field goal. He made a similar play on third down in the third quarter to stop a Chargers drive.
CB Rashad Fenton came up big with an interception in the fourth quarter. The rookie continues to improve throughout the season much like Charvarius Ward.
TE Travis Kelce had seven receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps the best play of the game by Kelce came on a reception he made two to three yards in front of the first down line. He was facing Patrick Mahomes and after he caught the ball he faked like he was turning to his left, took one step and then turned back around to his right. The move lost his defender allowing him to get the additional yards necessary for a first down.
Room for Improvement
The defense allowed 438 yards in this game. Yes, they had four interceptions and that’s great. But the yards allowed are going to kill the Chiefs against a playoff team, especially with the offense struggling as much as it is right now. Do we think they will ave themselves with four turnovers every game? We know they won’t. The defense allowed five drives of 38 or more yards in the first half out of the six possessions for the Chargers. The second half was much better as they held the Chargers to four or fewer plays on four of their six drives. Unfortunately, the two other drives went for 75 and 77 yards resulting in a touchdown and a shot at the end zone that was fortunately intercepted by Daniel Sorensen to ice the game.
Daniel Sorensen had a rough night. He had trouble stopping anyone and multiple times just decided to just grab them for a pass interference penalty when he was beat. He did have eight tackles in the game and had a huge interception to secure the win but he was also responsible for a lot of the problems on defense.
Enough with the screen passes and short out routes on third down when everyone knows they are coming. Andy Reid falls in love with a play that has been successful in previous games and continues to call it even when the defense knows it is coming. It happened multiple times tonight including on a few drives in the second half. The Chiefs needed to keep those drives alive to run clock but Los Angeles shut them down. As I sat on my couch and told Reid to not run those plays right before he did just that I found myself frustrated with his apparent lack of faith in Patrick Mahomes to make a play for this team.
The Chiefs have a bye next weekend before hosting the Oakland Raiders on December 1 for what will likely be first place in the division at that time. A win for the Chiefs over the Raiders will put Kansas City in a great position to win the division. The Chiefs would be up at least one game in the loss column, if Oakland wins at the NY Jets during the Chiefs’ bye, with just four games to play. The Chiefs would hold the tie breaker with a season sweep over the Raiders. A Raiders win would put the Chiefs in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs.