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Final score: Chiefs, Travis Kelce come back on Chargers again in 30-27 win

With a big win in Los Angeles, Kansas City goes to 8-2 on the season.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 30-27 on the Week 11 edition of Sunday Night Football, pushing their season record to 8-2 — and their AFC West lead to three full games.

The Chiefs could manage only a field goal on their opening drive, taking a 3-0 lead that the Chargers promptly erased on the third play of their first possession, when a blown coverage led to a 50-yard touchdown pass to Josh Palmer that gave them a 7-3 lead. Then the teams traded field goals, traded touchdowns and traded field goals again, leading to a 20-13 Los Angeles lead as the fourth quarter began.

The Chiefs then took a 20-16 advantage on a short pass to tight end Travis Kelce that he turned into a 32-yard scoring run. Then the teams made another trade, exchanging long drives that ended with forced fumbles deep in opposing territory.

Then on the next drive, Kansas City linebacker Willie Gay Jr. made a perfect blitz to sack Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert, bringing up third-and-18 from his own 38. On the next play, Herbert found wideout Keenan Allen for a 46-yard strike to the Chiefs’ 16. Three plays later, the Chargers took a 27-23 lead with 1:46 remaining.

So true to form, the Chiefs answered with a six-play, 75-yard drive — ending with a 17-yard pass to Kelce — giving them the victory.

First quarter

The Chargers won the opening coin toss, choosing to defer the decision to the second half. Thus, Kansas City began with the ball — starting at their own 25-yard line following a touchback.

A quick slant to tight end Jody Fortson initially moved the chains for the Chiefs. Two plays later, running back Isiah Pacheco ripped off a 28-yard run that was sprung with key blocks by right guard Trey Smith and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. They faced third down soon after, converting by going to rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore right past the sticks.

In the red zone, the Chiefs stalled on third down — with the possession’s last two passes falling incomplete, targeting tight end Travis Kelce. Kansas City settled for a field goal, taking an early 3-0 lead.

Los Angeles started strong — completing a long-developing pass play to wide receiver Keenan Allen for a 17-yard gain. Two plays later, quarterback Justin Herbert wound up from play action and let loose a 50-yard bomb, scoring with the catch by wide receiver Josh Palmer. The quick score gave the Chargers a 7-3 lead.

Trying to answer, the Chiefs started with a 27-yard completion to Kelce. That got them into Los Angeles territory, but they stalled from there — with Mahomes missing wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling over the middle on third down. Another field goal made the score 7-6 in favor of Los Angeles.

The Chargers kept moving the ball, converting an early third down with an impressive sideline grab by wide receiver Mike Williams — but he came up limping after the play. They got another 11 yards with a pass to Palmer a few plays later. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed broke up an attempt into the end zone to force a third down soon after, which the Chargers failed to convert. A successful field goal gave the home team a 10-6 advantage.

The next possession began with a penalty called on wide receiver Kadarius Toney for an illegal crackback block — even though it appeared Toney got in front of the defender. It set the Chiefs back, and they faced third down with eight yards to go. Kelce took a quick pass in the flat and shot up the sideline, gaining 34 yards before being pushed out.

In Chargers’ territory, a holding penalty on center Creed Humphrey negated a chain-moving run by Mahomes — setting up second and long as the first quarter ended.

Second quarter

On the first play of the second period, Jody Fortson was sent on a wheel route — and Mahomes laid the pass out perfectly for the reserve tight end to catch it in stride. The 40-yard gain set up Kelce to high-step his way into the end zone from four yards away, taking back the lead with a score of 13-10.

Looking to respond, the Chargers ran into a third down quickly after defensive end Carlos Dunlap batted down a pass attempt at the line of scrimmage. The conversion attempt was stuffed by a sack from defensive end Mike Danna, rushing from the interior in a pass-rush package. The Chargers were forced to punt away.

The Chiefs did nothing of note on their answering drive; the first third down was not converted when it appeared that Mahomes and Kelce were not on the same page.

Taking the ball back, the Chargers broke into Kansas City territory with a 20-yard pass play after escaping a third-down situation. Their next third down was converted via quarterback sneak, finding themselves inside the 25-yard line. Los Angeles pounded the rock, using the ground game to set up at the two-yard line. From there, running back Austin Ekeler punched in a carry for six points. The Chargers earned a 17-13 lead late in the second quarter.

After a special teams miscue pinned the Chiefs deep in their own territory, they had no solution — throwing two incompletions to set up a quick punt from their own 11-yard line.

The Chargers responded by marching down the field, getting to midfield as the two-minute warning hit. After the break, Herbert scrambled towards the sideline — earning 15 more yards when linebacker Nick Bolton pushed him out of bounds. Two chunk plays later, the Chargers were inside the Chiefs’ two-yard line with roughly 30 seconds. The Chiefs’ defense rose to the occasion, stuffing two short-yard conversion attempts to force a fourth down and field goal attempt. A good kick gave the Chargers a 20-13 lead.

The Chiefs’ last-second drive before halftime didn’t go anywhere. The score remained the same for the intermission.

Third quarter

The Chargers continued where they left off in the first half, marching down the field to open the third quarter; a 16-yard completion got the Chargers going towards midfield. However, linebacker Willie Gay Jr. got a tackle for loss — then Mike Danna earned his second sack of the night; once again, he rushed from an inside alignment. It forced a punt.

Similar to the first drive of the game, the Chiefs’ initial possession of this half started with a big run by Pacheco. He gained 18 yards on an off-tackle handoff. He racked up 21 rushing yards on the next three plays combined, getting them into the red zone. The rush attack was stopped short, failing on third down and settling for a field goal attempt. A good kick made it 20-16, in the favor of Los Angeles.

The Chargers fell flat on the ensuing possession, punting away after being stopped on third and short.

Another long field was in front of the Chiefs on their next drive, and it didn’t get any better from the first snap. Pacheco was blown up in pass protection, giving up a sack of Mahomes. With 17 yards needed on third down, Mahomes stepped up and rifled a pass over the middle to wide receiver Justin Watson to convert; he moved the chains on the next play as well. They faced another third down soon after, and Mahomes found Skyy Moore to get another set of downs as the third period ended.

Fourth quarter

The Chiefs needed to convert third down right out of the break; Mahomes found Kelce on a shallow crosser to move the chains — but he took it to another level and ran down the sideline for a 32-yard score. It gave Kansas City the lead once again, 23-20.

Looking to respond, Los Angeles stuck to the ground game to chip away and get over midfield — finding Keenan Allen in space to move the chains. However, Allen coughed up the football as he ran past the marker, and defensive end Frank Clark recovered to give Kansas City possession.

The Chiefs looked to put the game on ice with an effective rushing attack, gaining 38 yards on four consecutive attempts. On the next play, they tried a screen with running back Jerick McKinnon — who coughed it up and gave Los Angeles the ball back with under seven minutes to go.

Looking to either tie or take the lead, the Chargers began by getting a new set of downs on a quarterback sneak. The Chiefs got Herbert down behind the line of scrimmage on the next two plays, setting up third down with 18 yards to go. A lack of pressure allowed Herbert to step into a bomb downfield, hitting Keenan Allen for a 46-yard gain. A few plays later, Los Angeles set up at the four-yard line as the two-minute warning hit.

The Chiefs’ defense tipped the first-down pass, but couldn’t get in the way of the second play — allowing a touchdown to give the Chargers a 27-23 lead. There was 1:46 remaining after the extra point.

Looking to win the game, Mahomes started by finding Valdes-Scantling down the field for an 18-yard gain. Two plays later, a Chargers penalty helped move the chains — but that was followed by two chunk gains. All the sudden, Kansas City was at the Chargers’ 17-yard line, and didn’t waste any time scoring. A quick hitter to Kelce turned into a touchdown, giving the Chiefs a 30-27 lead with 31 seconds to go.

The Chargers’ attempt at a last-second comeback was initially stonewalled by defensive tackle Chris Jones, who wrapped up Herbert on first down for a sack. On the next play, pressure forced an off-balanced throw — and it was tipped up at the catch point, ending up in the outstretched hands of linebacker Nick Bolton. The interception effectively ended the game, needing one more snap to make the final score 30-27.


The Chiefs announced running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was questionable to return with an ankle injury; he came up limping after a carry in the first quarter. Later, the NBC broadcast showed Edwards-Helaire limping in the tunnel towards the locker room.

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney left the game in the second quarter. The team revealed that it was a hamstring injury, and that he was questionable to return.

In the third quarter, the team announced safety Juan Thornhill as questionable to return with a calf injury. Soon after, the team revealed he would not return at all.

Special Teams

Kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 33-yard field goal attempt on the Chiefs’ first possession. On their second drive, he converted the attempt from 52 yards away. He was successful on the first extra point attempt as well. In the second half, Butker nailed a 30-yard field goal for his third of the day — then hit his second point-after attempt as well. In the final moments of the game, he nailed his third point-after attempt.

Kick returner Isiah Pacheco fielded a sky-high kickoff near the sideline at the six-yard line, pinning the Chiefs’ offense back and setting up a wasted possession.

Punter Tommy Townsend has two punts, totaling 92 yards between them; the longer of the two went 50 yards, but neither went for a touchback or landed inside the 20-yard line.

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