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Chiefs hold off Chargers in battle of AFC West rivals, young phenom quarterbacks

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The Kansas City Chiefs showed why they are still the kings of the AFC West.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs defeated Justin Herbert and the Chargers, 27-24, in a dogfight on Thursday night.

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Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) is congratulated by fullback Michael Burton (45) after scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Mo.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Chargers took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter as they forced the Chiefs to punt on each of their first two drives. Herbert found Zander Horvath for the Chargers’ first touchdown of the game early in the second quarter. The Chiefs responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a sidearm touchdown pass from Mahomes to Jerick McKinnon. Both teams then punted twice to end the half.

Tied for 17, Herbert put on a clinic, hitting 6 for his first 6 for 51 yards, but on 1-and-goal, he was looking to Gerald Everett for a third straight goal, this time in the end zone. However, Jaylen Watson jumped the route, intercepted it and carried it to the cradle for a 99-yard pick six, giving the Chiefs a 24-17 lead with 10:29 to go.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson runs an interception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson runs an interception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TREY WINGO ON CAESARS 18-WHEEL TOUR, WHY IT’S ‘SUPER BOWL OR BUST’ FOR THE BILLS

The Chargers came out of the half firing flat out. Austin Ekeler was responsible for 30 of the Chargers’ 75 yards on their opening drive, and Herbert found Mike Williams in the end zone of the last 15 to give LA a 17-7 lead.

But the Chiefs weren’t done, and a little luck was on their side. Surprisingly, an interception was disallowed, so Mahomes took advantage. He completed his next three passes, and after the ball found ground on two subsequent passes, he threw deep to Justin Watson for a 41-yard touchdown, cutting the Chargers’ lead to three points midway through the third.

In the latter stages of the third, the Chargers had to punt from their own end zone, and a bad kick gave the Chiefs the ball at the opposite 36-yard line. An 18-yard catch by Travis Kelce (and a takedown tackle by Derwin James) put the Chiefs within five, but they were deep into three plays in a row. They kicked the field goal to tie the game at 17 to open the fourth quarter.

Herbert left the game by one play after grabbing his rib cage with a tackle, but was clearly in pain for the rest of the night. The Chiefs added another field goal to give themselves a 27-17 lead with less than four minutes left.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justin Watson celebrates after scoring during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justin Watson celebrates after scoring during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.
(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

PATRICK MAHOMES REMAINS ‘BEST QUARTERBACK IN FOOTBALL,’ HEADERS AS DANGEROUS AS EVER, SAYS NFL EXPERT TREY WINGO

However, a limping Herbert kept the game alive. On 4 and 1, he threw an outright dart to DeAndre Carter for 35 yards. He then found Joshua Palmer for a seven-yard touchdown to cut the Chiefs’ lead to 27-24. Dustin Hopkins attempted the onside kick, but Kansas City recovered it and kneed the clock for the win.

Mahomes certainly didn’t turn it on, but he did finish an impressive 24-of-35 for 235 yards and two touchdowns.) Kelce finished with five catches for 51 yards, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire had 118 general purpose yards (74 rushing, 44 receiving). Fifty-two of his rushing yards came on a run late in the quarter.

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws the ball during third quarterback against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws the ball during third quarterback against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.
(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

PATRICK MAHOMES REMAINS ‘BEST QUARTERBACK IN FOOTBALL,’ HEADERS AS DANGEROUS AS EVER, SAYS NFL EXPERT TREY WINGO

Herbert was outstanding, completing 33 of 48 passes for three touchdowns and 334 yards, but that was a costly interception.

Ekeler was quiet on the ground, only getting 14 carries for 39 yards, though he had nine catches for 55.

Williams caught eight passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, while Everett had six for 71.

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The Chiefs (2-0) will travel to Indianapolis to face the 0-0-1 Colts in Week 3, while the 1-1 Chargers host the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) on September 25.

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