The Chiefs’ pass offense finally showed its true colors on Sunday afternoon. After six games without a game over 305 passing yards, the unit broke out 415 yards through the air. The majority of the action came in the first half: the first five possessions of the game ended in a score.
#Chiefs have ran 29 plays in the first half. They have gained a first down on 15 of them— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) October 22, 2023
They’re averaging 11.5 yards/play — despite only 12 rushing yards on 6 attempts
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was in control early and often, completing 20 of his first 23 passes before finishing with 424 yards, four touchdowns and a completion percentage of 76%. He also nearly led the team in rushing, adding 29 yards on the ground.
The wide receiver room was led by big plays from Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He scored on a 46-yard completion and set up another touchdown with a 28-yard catch. He also moved the chains on a 10-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Rookie receiver Rashee Rice had another impactful game, earning 60 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. The score was a tightly-contested pass in the back of the end zone, but he also had two other receptions where he gained more than 10 yards and moved the chains.
Mahomes did throw an interception, forcing a deep pass to wide receiver Mecole Hardman going vertical. The speedster may have had a step at one point, but Mahomes simply didn’t put enough power into the throw. He passed up an open Valdes-Scantling for the attempt —one of the only times he made an incorrect decision on Sunday.
Offensive Player of the Game: Tight end Travis Kelce
It’s amazing how easy the 34-year-old Kelce made it look as he got open over the middle against Los Angeles’ defense. The tight end finished with 12 catches, 179 yards and a touchdown; nine of those receptions ended in a first down or score, with three of those plays coming on third down.
The yardage total was the second-most of Kelce’s career, and he has only caught 12 passes one other time — in Mahomes’ first year as a starter.
In an effort to slow down an offense that can be explosive and methodical, the Chiefs relied on active play from the defensive front. Early on, the Chargers negated it with quick throws and an effective ground game — including a 49-yard touchdown run — but the front seven settled in to prevent a score on Los Angeles’ last seven possessions.
Five different players earned sacks for the Chiefs, including defensive lineman Charles Omenihu in his first game back from suspension. Omenihu compiled the sack, two quarterback hits and a batted pass that resulted in an interception. He was joined by defensive ends George Karlaftis and Mike Danna in the sack column.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill helped close out the game after starting MIKE linebacker Nick Bolton went down with a worrisome wrist injury. Tranquill was playing with extra motivation against his former team. He broke up a downfield pass at one point, then shot through the line and came up with a sack later on.
The back end had its ups and downs, most of the downs coming against the defensive backs behind cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie (although McDuffie allowed a big catch downfield at one point). However, Sneed was opportunistic, corralling a tipped pass for an interception — and safety Bryan Cook sealed the game with a heads-up interception.
Defensive Player of the Game: Linebacker Willie Gay Jr.
Omenihu may receive the headlines for the unit, but Gay was all over the place for the Chiefs’ defense. He ended with five tackles, which was only fourth on the team, but he had a handful of impactful moments.
Willie Gay Jr. had 3 tackles on that last drive:— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) October 22, 2023
- 1 solo run stop for a two-yard gain
- 1 assisted run stop for no gain
- The sack to kill the Chargers’ chances at scoring a TD #ChiefsKingdom
On one early possession, Gay made three significant plays — including a sack to end the drive and force a long field-goal attempt. Throughout the game, he had three tackles in the run game that resulted in three or fewer yards in situations needing 10 yards to convert.
On third down in the fourth quarter, Gay read Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert’s eyes and nearly intercepted a pass over the middle. The deflected pass led to the big punt return by Mecole Hardman.