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Chiefs-Chargers rapid reaction: Mahomes, Kelce celebrate win with touchdown No. 50

The historic duo has now combined for 50 touchdowns together over their careers.

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 31-17 on Sunday, improving to 6-1 on the NFL season. The Chiefs are now 4-0 in the conference and 2-0 in divisional games.

Let’s get to the rapid reaction:

Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce celebrate No. 50 with a win

It’s been the case for a while now, but why not repeat it? Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are one of the all-time great duos.

The Chiefs’ win on Sunday included the 50th touchdown connection between the two future Pro Football Hall of Famers — even if it wasn’t exactly the prettiest of scores.

We have discussed the mind meld between the quarterback and tight end on these pages many times without any natural way of quantifying it. But interestingly enough, on Sunday, NextGenStats did find a way, noting that the two had a running streak of 28 targets in which they connected.

Mahomes and Kelce would connect for a 29th consecutive attempt before the miscue down the left sideline in the fourth quarter. Even still, the sub-0.1% chances of them being that in sync is unbelievable, and it has been the reason the offense has been able to score enough points to win this season.

As Kansas City continues to seek its 2023 offensive identity, the connection of the historic duo (Kelce had 179 yards and a touchdown on Sunday) has afforded the Chiefs the ability to win in the process.

Charles Omenihu’s impact was immediate — and welcome back, Mecole Hardman

The Chiefs’ defense faced some legitimate adversity for what felt like the first time this season on Sunday against the Chargers. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo always stresses limiting explosive plays as a key to success. Kansas City fell victim to a few, including a 49-yard touchdown run for Joshua Kelley and a 60-yard pass to Joshua Palmer.

Adding Charles Omenihu to the effort proved critical in a game between two teams that always seem to be close in score. In the second quarter, defensive tackle Chris Jones broke down the pocket, and Omenihu was there to clean up for the sack. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on the next drive. In the third quarter, Omenihu swatted a ball high into the air, so cornerback L’Jarius Sneed could make an easy interception.

Omenihu was primarily brought in to play with the tandem of George Karlaftis, Jones, and Mike Danna on third down. This front should strike fear into opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks all season long. Karlaftis and Danna added sacks of their own on Sunday.

And speaking of striking fear, it’s been a long while since the Chiefs had somebody at returner that did that to the opposing special teams’ units. Mecole Hardman was reinserted in that position in his first game back from the New York Jets, and his 50-yard return in the fourth quarter put the Chiefs in position to score again.

After shaking off some early rust with Mahomes on offense, Hardman’s third-down catch was crucial in setting up running back Isiah Pacheco’s late touchdown to seal the game.

The AFC West — essentially a wrap in Week 8?

We talked about it heading into this contest on Sunday all week. The Chiefs take their championship chases one step at a time, starting with winning the AFC West and winning AFC West division games.

A couple hours after the Chicago Bears blew out the Las Vegas Raiders (3-4), the Chiefs dealt the Chargers (2-4) their fourth loss of the season. And just like that, heading into Week 8 before the midway point of the season, the Chiefs are three games ahead of the rest of the pack in the loss column.

There is still much work to be done for Kansas City to clinch its eighth consecutive AFC West title, including its second matchup with the Broncos in three weeks coming up next, but the cushion it has built has made it awfully difficult to overcome.

This is what the New England Patriots of the 2000s must have felt like.

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