Another week — and another heartbreaker for the 2021 Kansas City Chiefs.
The home team led the Los Angeles Chargers in almost every statistical category — and had some substantial success on both offense and defense — but once again made a handful of critical mistakes that cost them the game. If this trend continues, turnovers will be the primary reason this team doesn’t achieve its goals.
For both good and bad, here are a few Chiefs who stood out in Sunday’s game.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Yes, he fumbled again, which is troubling. But he ran with authority and purpose, ending with 100 yards rushing on 5.9 yards per attempt — and a beautifully executed screen pass for a touchdown. Even the fumble was on a play where he was fighting for extra yards downfield. All things considered, this was a good bounce-back performance for the second-year running back.
Jody Fortson: Fortson followed his first career catch last week with a two-catch performance that included a spectacular five-yard touchdown. The big guy still isn’t getting substantial snaps, but he might be showing just enough to get more opportunities going forward.
Mike Danna: The second-year defensive end had the Chiefs’ lone sack — along with three quarterback hits — filling in for Frank Clark fairly admirably. He’s a hustle player — and it shows.
The Chiefs’ run defense: The focus and execution were improved — and the results were there. The Chargers ran for only 77 yards, an average of 3.5 per attempt. Sure... Los Angeles isn’t the running threat that the Baltimore Ravens or Cleveland Browns are — but it was good to see guys like Anthony Hitchens, L’Jarius Sneed and others step up their games. Hopefully, this is the start of a more positive trend for the defense.
Travis Kelce: When things got tough, Kelce was the man — as usual. He made the tough catches over the middle en route to another 100-plus yard game. The catch he had on the sideline where he reached over the defender’s helmet was amazing.
Patrick Mahomes: The only thing worse than seeing the Chiefs lose is seeing Mahomes be part of the problem. His first interception on the night was a fantastic play by Mahomes, but it bounced off the receiver’s hands. Late in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs got the ball back twice — putting the game in No. 15’s capable hands. Unfortunately, he was once again unable to come through, closing out the game with another interception and a failed final drive. Mahomes will bounce back — but he took the L on Sunday.
Marcus Kemp: When you’re primarily on the roster for special teams — and you get a chance to be involved in the offense — every play counts. With the offense moving up and down the field early in the game, Mahomes fired off a beautiful no-look pass right into Kemp’s waiting arms (and shoulders). Not only did Kemp fail to make the catch, but he let it bounce off his hands — resulting in the first turnover of the day. The play ruined a 10-play drive and a defensive three-and-out.
Byron Pringle: Another backup wide receiver who didn’t capitalize was Byron Pringle. Mahomes targeted Pringle six times, resulting in just two catches for twelve yards. With only nine seconds left, Pringle dropped a deep pass that could have helped win the game.
The Chiefs red-zone defense: The dubious 8/8 stat was out there; there was no way it could continue. But the Chargers scored touchdowns on every red-zone trip — with the exception of a short field goal that tied the score with two minutes left. Things should get more difficult for offenses once they reach the red zone, but the Chiefs have been far too accommodating. Even when they get a stop, penalties often give additional chances. It’s something that has to change — and it is the only real complaint I have about the defense on Sunday.
Everyone who tried to cover Mike Williams: Whether he was out-jumping the smaller corners or causing chaos between linebackers and safeties, Williams was able to do whatever he wanted against the Chiefs’ defense. He accumulated seven catches, 122 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. It was a dominant performance by a guy who is a matchup problem for many teams. The Chiefs had no answers for him; he beat nearly everyone on the back end of the defense at least once.