In an emotional roller coaster of a Monday Night Football game, it was the Kansas City Chiefs defense that made the crucial plays in big moments.
Defensive end Frank Clark had multiple big-time pressures. Safety Tyrann Mathieu made big plays. Cornerback Rashad Fenton came down with a fourth-quarter interception. But all that paled in comparison to the end-zone interception made by safety Daniel Sorensen with just 24 seconds left to wrap up the Chiefs’ 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. The team is now 7-4 with a week of rest coming up.
The contest started out with a Chargers red zone drive that ended in a 27-yard field goal. Their next possession ended in a short missed field goal attempt — but on the ensuing drive, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes gave it back by throwing his second interception of the season.
Inside the Chiefs 25-yard line for the third time, the Chargers failed to convert again — thanks to pressure from defensive end Frank Clark that resulted in an interception by defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi.
But the Chiefs were unable to take advantage of the turnover. Still holding a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter, the Chargers attempted to convert a third down, but safety Tyrann Mathieu jumped the pass to make his his second interception of the year.
His return set up running back LeSean McCoy to score from six yards out and give the Chiefs a 7-3 lead.
On the following possession, the Chargers drove down to the Chiefs 8-yard line, but had to settle for another field goal to cut their deficit to one point late in the second quarter. The two teams used their last possessions of the first half to exchange field goals, and the Chiefs led 10-9 at halftime.
The Chiefs opened the third quarter with a eight-play drive capped off with a six-yard touchdown run by running back Darrel Williams.
After a Chargers three-and-out, Mahomes took the offense right back down the field and found tight end Travis Kelce in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown catch to increase the lead to 24-9.
Los Angeles was able to answer with a long drive of their own, resulting in a seven-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Keenan Allen, bringing the score to 24-17 as the third quarter ended.
The fourth quarter went back and forth. Both teams failed to score in the opportunities they had. The game came down to the Chargers getting the ball at their own 9-yard line with under two minutes remaining. They were able to get it down inside the red zone with less than 20 seconds remaining — but Sorensen leaped to grab an interception in the end zone to secure the win.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill came up limping with a hamstring injury on the first drive and left for the rest of the game. Center Austin Reiter left the game in the first quarter and was evaluated for a concussion before returning in the second quarter. Running back Damien Williams left the contest right before halftime with a rib injury and didn’t return. Safety Jordan Lucas also did not come back after leaving sometime in the second quarter because of an injury to his shoulder.
Stats of note
Patrick Mahomes didn’t have his most impressive performance. He finished with 19/32 passing, 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception — but also had 60 rushing yards. His main target was Travis Kelce — who brought in seven catches for 92 yards and a score.
Chargers running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler torched the Chiefs with a combined 222 total yards on 30 touches — averaging 7.4 yards per touch.
The Chiefs defensive front came up with two sacks, three tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits on Philip Rivers. Frank Clark and Mike Pennel each had a sack — and combined for five of the quarterback hits.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was able to fill his box score with 28/52 passing, 353 yards and a touchdown — but the Chiefs were able to pick him off four times.
The Chiefs could have easily blown another winnable game to keep a very sour taste in their mouths going into the bye week. The offense played well in the third quarter, but was unimpressive in the other three. They had multiple chances to seal the game late in the fourth quarter but could not keep the ball. They were absolutely missing Tyreek Hill, but they still had chances to put up a lot more points than the 24 they did score.
That being said, good teams have multiple units that can win games. The defensive unit decided to step up on Monday. There were some frustrating stretches where they gave up chunks of yardage, but they made plays when they needed to be made.
When you’re playing Philip Rivers, you know there will be opportunities for turnovers. The Chiefs took advantage of most of their chances — and it was enough to win a big divisional game.