But the Chiefs are intact with new weapons like Isiah Pacheco, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson and, most formidably and reliably, Travis Kelce. And while Tyreek Hill has ignited the Miami Dolphins’ challenge to the Chiefs’ supremacy, the Chiefs may again have the deepest array of weapons, and that is more than enough for Patrick Mahomes. With a sizzling come from behind drive with 1:46 remaining that showcased receptions by Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Moore, a few Mahomes scrambles and then — this will sound familiar — Kelce’s third touchdown reception of the night, the Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 30-27 to take a three-game lead in the AFC West, solidify their hold on the top seed in the AFC and remind everyone that for all the competitive balance in the conference, the Chiefs are very likely to again play a big role in who goes to the Super Bowl.
Kelce, with six receptions for 115 yards and the three touchdowns, remains the stalwart, and he had to fight through tight, physical coverage from the Chargers’ star defender, Derwin James. Andy Reid called the chemistry Kelce and Mahomes share “ridiculous” and he said that, knowing that players age, he tries to enjoy every minute of every play the two have together. He said Mahomes and Kelce eventually figured out how to beat James, although Mahomes had a simpler explanation.
A wild fourth quarter took place at SoFi Stadium between the two AFC West rivals, as Keenan Allen, returning into the fold after weeks of dealing with a hamstring injury, fumbled on a crucial Chargers drive. But Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon did the same thing six plays later, allowing Herbert another chance to at least tie the game.
Instead, the Chargers took the lead behind Josh Palmer’s second touchdown of the game, a six-yard strike from Herbert to go up 27-23.
But we’ve seen this story play out before: Mahomes had a little less than two minutes to play with a chance to at least set up a field goal. But that’s not what Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense had in mind.
They wanted to call game.
All Mahomes needed was six plays to go 75 yards, using chunk plays to end up finding Kelce, who streaked across the field and beat Derwin James Sr. for a 17-yard touchdown. And so another Mahomes-led comeback victory gave the Chiefs a 7-2 record, while the Chargers fell to 5-4.
Kelce’s three touchdowns gives him 11 on the season now, as he totaled 115 yards on six catches (10 targets). It was his 33rd career 100-yard receiving game, which breaks his tie with Rob Gronkowski for the most by a tight end.
Mahomes would finish the game with 329 yards on 20 of 34 with his three touchdowns to Kelce. He also found Justin Watson for 67 yards on three catches as well as rookie Skyy Moore five times for 63 yards.
The Hall of Fame connection between quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce steals the show every single week for the Kansas City Chiefs. They did so again Sunday during the Chiefs’ last-minute comeback victory over the Los Angeles Chargers when the two hooked up for a game-winning 17-yard score.
However, the contributions around those elite performers are what take Kansas City from being consistently good to nearly unstoppable.
The names change, but premium help makes the Chiefs truly dangerous.
Looking back, the Chiefs benefited from Damien Williams racking up 133 total yards and two scores, Sammy Watkins snagging five passes for 98 yards and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz playing arguably the best game of his career to win Super Bowl LIV.
One’s surrounding cast is vital, even for two of the best to ever play their respective positions.
During Sunday’s contest, a pair of rookies showed how they could be bigger contributors for the remainder of the 2022 campaign and even expand Kansas City’s dynamic offense.
Running back Isiah Pacheco and wide receiver Skyy Moore both posted new career highs against the Chargers, and they needed to do so based on how injuries have changed the Chiefs’ lineup.
“They’ve done a nice job of working hard,” head coach Andy Reid said after the game. “It hasn’t come naturally and easy. They’ve worked their tail off to where the QB trusts them and where the coaches trust them to play them.”
Kelce is the third tight end in the Super Bowl era with multiple three receiving touchdown games in a season. Kelce’s 11 receiving TDs this season are tied for second-most by a tight end through a team’s first 10 games all-time with Tyler Eifert in 2015. The only tight end with more was Julius Thomas, who had 12 in 2014 with the Broncos.
The Chiefs are now three games ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West standings and own the tiebreaker after beating them twice this season.
The Chiefs took a lead early in the fourth quarter on Kelce’s second touchdown of the game — a 32-yard catch from Mahomes.
Kelce made the catch at the Chargers’ 27 and did the rest, weaving his way through a number of defenders before finding his way to the end zone behind a key block from fellow tight end Jody Fortson.
The game also marks Kelce’s 10th career multi-receiving touchdown game; he joins Tony Gonzalez (14) and Tyreek Hill (12) as the only Chiefs with 10 or more such games in franchise history.
Around the NFL
The Jets (6-4) lost on Marcus Jones’ 84-yard punt return for a touchdown with five seconds remaining, but it was the Zach Wilson-led offense that failed all day. The quarterback completed only 9 of 22 passes for a career-low 77 yards, as the Jets managed only six first downs and 103 total yards.
Incredibly, the Jets registered just 2 total yards in the second half, the fewest by any team in a half this season. Of their 13 possessions, none reached the red zone.
“It was dogs---,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said of the offense.
Garrett Wilson and fellow wideout Denzel Mims, who combined for only four receptions for 47 yards, were caught on camera showing frustration after errant throws by Zach Wilson.
After the crushing finish, Garrett Wilson stormed into the locker room, shouting to no one in particular, “I’m done with this!”
Later, he vented in front of his locker. He didn’t name names, but his rant seemed to be directed at Zach Wilson and the coaches.
Garrett Wilson said the coaches “have to put more trust in the receiver room” and suggested there’s a lack of accountability.
There’s no way to sell Denver Broncos fans on another season of Nathaniel Hackett as their head coach.
Broncos fans have been vocal since the team got off to a bad start with a weird Week 1 loss, punctuated by a weird decision by Hackett to settle for a 64-yard field goal at the Seattle Seahawks. Caving to impatient fans’ wishes usually isn’t smart. In this case, it might be the only choice.
Denver’s season got worse Sunday with a baffling 22-16 overtime loss to Las Vegas Raiders. It included more crippling mistakes. You can’t blame everything on the coach, but the Broncos are a poorly coached team.
The Raiders were 2-7 coming in and even though the Broncos struggled again on offense, they had a 16-13 lead with two minutes to go. They had the break to discuss an upcoming third-and-10. A first down would have ended the game. And Russell Wilson made a mistake that he can’t make.
Wilson threw incomplete on third down. He wasn’t even close to a target and it looked like he might be throwing it away. Even if Hackett gave up play-calling duties this past week, someone has to let Wilson know that a sack in that spot isn’t bad. Wilson is a veteran, and he has to know better. A sack would have run 40 seconds off the clock. In hindsight, the Broncos should have just run up the middle. At least burning 40 seconds off the clock would have done something positive for their chances to win.
The Broncos punted and ended up losing. Maybe the Raiders would have tied it anyway without the extra 40 seconds, but a total breakdown in coverage allowed running back Josh Jacobs to get a 43-yard catch in the final minute to set up a field goal, and then in overtime another broken coverage left Davante Adams wide open for a 35-yard walk-off touchdown. Two blown coverages on two key plays in the game isn’t completely on Hackett, but it’s a symptom of a team that looks unprepared each week.
1) Cowboys record largest road win in team history behind defense, Tony Pollard
The Cowboys defense dominated the Vikings in a 40-3 win in Week 11, the largest road victory in Cowboys’ franchise history. The 37-point victory was the largest road win against a team 8-1 or better since the 1970 merger, and it was the second-largest home loss in Vikings history (42-point loss vs St. Louis Cardinals in 1963).
The Cowboys season-high seven sacks were also the most in any game in Kirk Cousins’ 11-year NFL career. The Cowboys are both the only team to have five games with five-plus sacks and have four players with five-plus sacks this season. The Cowboys snapped Cousins’ streak of 39 straight games with a pass touchdown, which was the longest active streak in the NFL.
Pollard has averaged 154.7 scrimmage yards per game and has six touchdowns since Week 8. Both are the most in the NFL over that span. Pollard and Dan Reeves (1966, 1967) are the only Cowboys running backs with 100-plus receiving yards and multiple receiving touchdowns in a game. It was also the first time in Cowboys franchise history that the team has had one running back score multiple rushing TDs (Ezekiel Elliott) and another running back score multiple receiving TDs (Pollard) in the same game.
2) Micah Parsons chases Reggie White’s single-season record
Parsons served a huge role in the Cowboys’ lopsided win to the tune of two sacks, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble in Week 11. Parsons has five games with 2.0 sacks this season, the most in the NFL. The single-season NFL record is held by Hall of Famer White, who had eight such games in a strike-shortened 1987 season. Parsons has 8 career games reaching that threshold, one behind Aldon Smith (nine) for the most in a player’s first two seasons all time.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The defense of the Kansas City Chiefs turned a page this offseason, which led to the youth wave you see in the starting lineup today. The big-name veterans are seemingly the only holdovers from the previous phase.
However, there is one breakout player that has been with the organization since defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was first hired: defensive tackle Khalen Saunders. The fourth-year lineman has turned into a key rotational piece, earning more and more snaps as the year has gone on.
“I think his play tick went up this last game,” Spagnuolo noted to reporters in his Thursday press conference. “We talked about that in preparation week last week. He certainly deserves that, he has played well, he stands out. Of course, anytime you get sacks, everyone starts to notice — but he has done a lot of other good things in the run game that have really helped us. I like the way Khalen has progressed this year.”
Saunders’ box score has started to fill up: he has earned at least half a sack in each of the last three games, along with two tackles for loss in total during that stretch. That’s good production for a player that roughly sees 40% of the defense’s snaps.
It’s a credit to Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Joe Cullen for making sure a progressing player was getting the runway to experience that development. He earned it back in the offseason, when Cullen noticed Saunders in a positive way.
A tweet to make you think
Sweet victory dreams, Kingdom pic.twitter.com/ATbUotE5oy— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 21, 2022