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Chiefs beat Chargers: the good, the bad and the ugly

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Chiefs 30, Chargers 13 | Five takeaways with Pete

Posted by Arrowhead Pride: For Kansas City Chiefs Fans on Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers, 30-13, and the Chiefs improved to 8-6. My rapid reaction is here.

This is the good, the bad and the ugly:

GOOD: Eric Murray’s safety blitz on Chargers’ initial drive

The Chargers started the game with the football and picked up two quick first downs with a Travis Benjamin reverse and a Melvin Gordon 10-yard run, but then at the Los Angles 49-yard line, the Chiefs defense stepped up.

After a run stuff and an incomplete pass intended for Keenan Allen, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton dialed up the safety blitz.

Eric Murray, who was questionable for the game due to an ankle problem, showed no signs of the injury as he dashed for Philip Rivers and took him down to force fourth down and a punt.

BAD: What followed

What followed the great defensive start was a three-and-out by the Chiefs offense. Melvin Ingram, who we know coming in would be a problem, almost picked Alex Smith off for six points on the first play, and that was followed by two duds.

Three plays, no first down. Punt.

UGLY: The muffed punt

There looked to be an ugly miscommunication between Daniel Sorensen and Tyreek Hill, and Hill muffed a punt that cost the Chiefs quite a few yards after the defense forced a Chargers three-and-out on their second drive.

Luckily, the tight end depth of the Chiefs saved what could have been a complete disaster. Demetrius “Football” Harris came in to push a Charger off the ball, and Orson Charles dove on it, retaining the Chiefs possession at the 6-yard line.

GOOD: Kelce and Kareem the Dream

The Chiefs’ three biggest playmakers are Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, probably in that order.

The good news here is that despite beginning with horrible field position due to the special teams gaffe, the Chiefs utilized Kelce and Hunt to score first against the Chargers.

Kelce made a difficult catch on third-and-5 at the Kansas City 11-yard line to keep the drive going, and Hunt compiled 49 yards from scrimmage, including a catch on a gutsy fourth-and-3 call for the first down.

The Chiefs drive stalled at the 12-yard line and Harrison Butker booted a 31-yard field goal for the Chiefs to take a 3-0 lead.

GOOD: Chris Jones appears to be back

I’m not 100 percent sure exactly where Chris Jones went from Week 3 to Week 13, but he helped save the Chiefs’ season with a dominant performance against the Oakland Raiders and doubled down against the Los Angeles Chargers.

It seemed Philip Rivers and the Chargers were getting something going in the second quarter, with Melvin Gordon showing some power and Keenan Allen getting involved with two catches for 23 yards.

But on first-and-10 at the Kansas City 46-yard line, Jones broke through and sacked Rivers for nine yards. The Chargers drive stalled, and they punted two plays later.

Jones’ “Stone Cold” persona was made for all-red primetime games like Saturday night, and he was bringing the energy between plays as well.

GOOD: The Madden play

We called it “the Madden play” on the Arrowhead Pride Podcast this week—it’s when Tyreek Hill is one on one, he runs a go route, and Alex Smith lets that thing fly.

This week’s victim was Casey Hayward, a 2016 second-team All-Pro, and Hill had him beat by three to five yards.

10-0 Chiefs, and a season milestone for Hill.

Also GOOD: this

BAD: The Melvin Gordon show

Melvin Gordon is great, and the combination of he and Austin Ekeler killed the Chiefs on the Chargers’ first scoring drive. Gordon runs hard, he catches the football and racks up yards after the catch.

The Chargers got to the Kansas City 15-yard line and dialed Gordon four straight times until he got in the end zone on a 2-yard run.

His 49-yard run at the beginning of the second half was ridiculous.

What’s worse is the reality that Gordon is only 24, and running backs don’t really decline until 29. If he stays healthy, he’ll be providing the Chiefs nightmares for at least the next five years.

UGLY: The Chargers’ Travis Coons missed an extra point

And it was BAD, but good for the Chiefs.

See what I did there.

BAD: What were the Chiefs doing at the end of the first half?

Starting at their own 23-yard line, the Kansas City Chiefs had three timeouts and 1:52 on the clock. Regardless of having all the timeouts, the play calls were not aggressive or in the center of the field, but rather to the sidelines.

The Chiefs moved the ball to the Chargers’ 41-yard line, and after a penalty, it was first-and-20 at the 39-yard line. Albert Wilson made a great 15-yard catch, timeout.

The play out of the first timeout with 24 seconds on the clock at midfield was a Charcandrick West draw for two yards. Timeout two.

On third-and-3, Smith didn’t look downfield but instead tried to hit West a yard away. Incomplete. Harrison Butker came out for the 52-yarder, and Anthony Lynn iced him.

Butker missed the one that counted. No points, 10-6 at halftime.

Matt Nagy has been good over the past couple weeks, so I think it’s hard to kill him here, but the final offensive drive of the half was a little strange.

And for those questioning why West was playing over Kareem Hunt for most of the drill, here’s your answer from our own Geoff Schwartz:

BAD: Did the defense stay in the locker room on that first drive of the second half?

Bob Sutton and the Chiefs defense had a great first half of play. Then it felt like they didn’t come out of the locker room on the Chargers’ first offensive drive.

The problems started when Melvin Gordon made several Chiefs miss en route to a 49-yard reception, and that brought the Chiefs to the Kansas City 39.

Then it was Philip Rivers time, and he went 4 for 4 for 88 yards, its final play a passing touchdown to Antonio Gates, who Derrick Johnson simply could not cover.

The Chargers took their only lead of the night—13-10.

GOOD: The Chiefs respond

The good thing for the defense was that Alex Smith did show up at the beginning of the second half.

Just when you may have started to get a little worried, Smith and Matt Nagy got back to what has made the offense so resurgent the past couple of weeks.

Running the football, mixing in different looks, using all the skill position players (De’Anthony Thomas caught a football and I forgot he was on the team).

At one point, Smith blocked for Kareem Hunt on an option play and actually injured safety Adrian Phillips on the play.

Smith capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Hunt, and the Chiefs took a 17-13 lead.

UGLY: What was Rivers doing on the throw to Tyrell Williams?

It was the Chargers’ turn to strike back, and they didn’t.

On second-and-10 at the Chargers 25-yard line, Philip Rivers launched a ball down the middle of the field that was nowhere near Tyrell Williams, the intended receiver.

Marcus Peters easily picked the ball off, and Rivers was visibly upset with Williams, who appeared to run the wrong route, on the sideline.

GOOD: Marcus Peters got the interception

And good for Marcus Peters.

I said on our show this week that Peters could take the suspension in one of two directions, and from the beginning of the game (he was seen waving the crowd on) to the interception and run back, his head seemed to be in the right place.

The pick led to three points for the Chiefs, and Peters had a game-clinching interception later.

GOOD: Back-to-back-to-back turnovers

And the Peters interception was just the beginning.

On the very next Chargers drive, Peters delivered again with the help of Reggie Ragland.

Austin Ekeler fumbled the football, Ron Parker recovered and the Chiefs scored three points off the great field position.

Parker intercepted the football on the very next drive, marking three straight Chargers possessions with turnovers.

GOOD: Kareem Hunt has returned

I couldn’t believe Kareem Hunt at the beginning of the season this year—six straight games of more than 100 yards from scrimmage. Elusiveness that I had never seen.

Then something happened over the next seven games. The offense got stale. Defenses found a way to stop him. Some games, the Chiefs weren’t giving him many attempts.

It could be the switch of play calling to Matt Nagy, his implementing of additional run-pass-option plays, as properly explained by our Kent Swanson. It could be better offensive line play. It could be a lot of things.

But Hunt is back, and it couldn’t come at a better time as the Chiefs presumably head to the postseason.

After 25 carries for 116 yards last week against the Raiders, Hunt rushed 24 times for 155 yards on Saturday night.