With the Broncos and Raiders still undefeated — note that the Broncos have beaten three winless teams — and the division suffering just three losses total, the AFC West is the most competitive division in the conference. It hasn’t been much of a race in recent years. The Chiefs have won the division every year since 2016, but after three games, the Chiefs’ defense has yielded 1,290 net yards, which is bad enough on its own, but particularly problematic when the offense has four turnovers, as it did Sunday, including on the first three drives of the game. The Chiefs, at 1-2, are in last place.
Winner: The Fate-Tempting Chargers
The rule is: Don’t give Patrick Mahomes the football. We have been over this rule. We went over it last week, too, as it helped power the Ravens to a thrilling win on Sunday Night Football. The Chargers should know this better than anybody. Last year, they took Mahomes and the Chiefs to overtime … and punted on fourth-and-1. They never saw the ball again.
Sunday, they had the chance to beat Kansas City without giving Mahomes the ball. They had the ball on the Kansas City 4-yard line in a tied game with less than a minute left. Their job seemed obvious: Let the clock bleed, and kick the chip-shot field goal to end the game without your opponent touching the ball.
The Chiefs managed to lose another close game, one that was of their own doing thanks to four turnovers. Three of which were committed in the first half on their first three possessions — leading to a 14-0 hole they had to climb out of. Kansas City did manage to take the lead with 17 unanswered points, but the final turnover ended up biting them. In a 24-24 game with under two minutes left, Patrick Mahomes threw a questionable pass that was intercepted at the Chargers 41-yard line, which led to the winning touchdown from Herbert to Williams in the final minute. The Chiefs did improve on stopping the run (Chargers had just 77 yards), got their own run game going (186 yards), and moved the will at will (437 yards) — but four turnovers and no takeaways of their own doomed them in. Kansas City will be fine as long as it can move the ball. The Chiefs beat themselves in this one.
“I wanted to give back to the city, both where I come from and the city I’m in now,” Kelce said to CBS Sports. “I wanted to make a difference in the best way possible and the only way I could think of was my impact on the youth. Because I grew up loving sports and loving the NFL, I understood — and still understand — how I really look at the NFL stars growing up.
“I know how to really relate to kids doing that, so that started the opportunity to help the underserved community out here in Kansas City and just give kids opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Kelce has been using his record-setting performance on the field in order to raise money for the foundation. For the past several seasons, Kelce’s “Catching for a Cause” raises money for every catch he makes throughout the season. Kelce says it’s all injected to help out Kansas City’s community, especially since he’s recorded 486 catches — the third-most in the NFL and most amongst tight ends — over the past five years.
Around the NFL
Tucker’s 66-yard field goal — the longest in NFL history — lifted the depleted Ravens to a dramatic 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
“Thankfully, we found an extra yard-and-a-half that I didn’t have three hours before,” said Tucker, who held the ball from the winning kick in his hand. “I’m grateful for that.”
Tucker’s 66-yarder eclipsed Matt Prater’s 64-yard field goal in 2013 as the longest in NFL history.
Tucker is more than the record holder for the longest kick and the most accurate kicker in NFL history. He’s also the most clutch. Tucker improved to 16-for-16 in his NFL career on field goals in the final minute of regulation.
“He’s the best kicker in history,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “When you have a kicker like that, you want to give him an opportunity like that. For him to come through like that is just historic.”
Why the Packers won
Plain and simple: Rodgers was in MVP form. Remember 2020, when No. 12 was headlining every prime-time Packers game with signature bullets and lightning-quick scoring drives? This was like that. In contrast to his unusually lifeless season opener earlier this month, Rodgers was nearly flawless here, picking apart San Francisco’s battered secondary for much of the night. Adams turning in an A-plus outing on the outside was a big help, with the top target making it look easy on key downs. And Matt LaFleur oversaw a balanced game plan, with Aaron Jones pacing a solid ground game. Defensively, the Packers occasionally matched the 49ers’ front-seven intensity, with the linebackers keeping Jimmy Garoppolo on edge, and secondary heavy hitters like Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage helped set the tone. It wasn’t a perfect night, but the Packers looked like a complete team for the second straight week, this time against a seemingly formidable opponent.
What was so stunning about Chicago’s performance with Fields under center was that they seemed to have no real plan at all. Some of that had to do with the Browns, but this game was always going to be more about the Bears: the potential of their quarterback, the talent among the men blocking for him and ultimately the approach Chicago is taking to coaching him.
“This is not how we wanted it to go,” said Bears head coach Matt Nagy. “You almost can’t make it up. It’s that bad.”
“It’s just a good defense,” said Brady, who has been pressured on a league-low 17.8% of his dropbacks since arriving last season in Tampa but saw a pass rush on Sunday that pressured him 27% of the time. “They have good pass-rush schemes, they have good pass-rushers, they mix things up quite a bit on you, so it’s hard to really just to tee off.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
2. Attitude adjustment isn’t everything
It was good to see the Chiefs’ defense come out of the blocks playing with an attitude, handing the Chargers a three-and-out in their first offensive series. They held Los Angeles to just a first down in their second drive — which began on a Patrick Mahomes interception — completely enveloping quarterback Justin Herbert to force a punt on a third-and-11 after L’Jarius Sneed stuffed Austin Ekeler on an outside run.
But through the rest of the first half, attitude just wasn’t enough. Two more Kansas City turnovers gave the Chargers the ball near midfield — and by then, the Chiefs’ defense had simply been on the field too much. After the Chargers had taken a 14-0 lead, the defense finally managed to get Los Angeles to fourth down when Daniel Sorensen forced an incompletion on an end-zone throw to Jalen Guyton — but even that almost turned out badly. The Chargers easily converted the fourth-and-4 with a 30-yard pass to Keenan Allen — but the play was called back on an illegal offensive shift penalty, forcing a punt.
A tweet to make you think
AFC West standings through 3 weeks:— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 26, 2021
1. Broncos 3-0
1. Raiders 3-0
3. Chargers 2-1
4. Chiefs 1-2
Just like we expected.