What We Saw: Chiefs at Chargers

Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert showed their flash and class as the Chiefs edged past the Chargers in overtime in a scintillating contest on Thursday Night Football.

Chiefs @ Chargers

Final Score: Chiefs 34, Chargers 28

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)


Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied late to overcome Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers 34-28 in a rip-roaring Thursday Night Football contest between two of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the league. Mahomes and Herbert were electric to watch all night, from standing in the pocket and delivering on high risk throws to scrambling away from pressure and making things happen out of nothing on the run.

Their performances were not without fault, and the game featured both teams turning the ball over on downs twice. Each quarterback threw an interception, each team fumbled the ball away. Of course, it took overtime to settle this one, with Travis Kelce topping off a career night in which he caught a career-high 191 yards and the game-winning touchdown, his second score of the night. Catch him if you can. Nobody did.


Kansas City Chiefs




Patrick Mahomes: 31/47, 410 yards, 3 TD, INT, Sack, Fumble (Lost) | 3 carries, 32 yards


A virtuoso performance from Patrick Mahomes, who led the Kansas City Chiefs back from the brink of defeat as he threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and another on the only drive in overtime to seal the win for his team. Mahomes was excellent for the majority of this contest, leading six scoring drives and an 11-play, 70-yard drive that finished at the Chargers 2-yard line – the Chiefs failing three times to find the end zone in the third quarter. He was a joy to watch and delivered big for fantasy managers. The magic was alive and well…


Mahomes did turn the ball over twice, both on great defensive plays from the Chargers. Joey Bosa beat his man on the edge and after Mahomes pump faked, Bosa managed to force the ball out of his hands before his arm was thrust forward.


The interception was a bad decision from Mahomes as he attempted a risky high dump off to Clyde Edwards-Helaire deep inside his own territory. Uchenna Nwosu read it like a book to tip the pass straight up before hauling the ball in for the turnover.


With the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, Mahomes scampered for his longest run of the season to set the Chiefs up inside the 10-yard line. It was a crucial moment in the game, Mahomes emptying all his options to bring his team level.


A perfectly executed 5-play, 75-yard drive in overtime was capped off by a terrific Kelce catch-and-run to hand Mahomes and the Chiefs their seventh consecutive win. A complete showing from the face of football just when fantasy managers needed him.


Running Back


Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 9 carries, 32 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards, 2 PT

Darrel Williams: 5 carries, 12 yards | 1 target

Michael Burton: 1 carry, 7 yards, TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 20 yards


Averaging just 14 touches per game since returning from injury, Clyde Edwards-Helaire continued to disappoint fantasy managers with another ineffectual performance against a Chargers defense coming into the game giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. Key turnovers meant the Chiefs were trailing at the half and going into the fourth quarter, so the game script wasn’t there for CEH. Still, more worrying was that he was passed over for the two running back touches at the goal line. Darrel Williams was stuffed on one and fullback Michael BurtonΒ took the other in for the score to record his first touchdown since 2015.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Travis Kelce: 13 targets, 10 receptions, 191 yards, 2 TD

Tyreek Hill: 13 targets, 12 receptions, 148 yards, TD

Byron Pringle: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 22 yards

Mecole Hardman: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards

Blake Bell: 1 target

Demarcus Robinson: 3 targets


It was a historic night for Travis Kelce, who hauled in two receiving touchdowns and could have had a third score but he fell just short on a 69-yard connection with Mahomes early in the fourth quarter, Nasir Adderley catching him and bringing him down at the 1-yard line.


Still, Kelce balled out amongst a patchy Chargers secondary that has leaked yards all season. The tight end, in what feels like a response to the George Kittle hype in recent weeks, cashed in late as his chemistry with his quarterback reached brand new heights. This excellent low catch for a 7-yard touchdown tied the game with only 1:16 left. Overtime provided the cherry on top of yet another Chiefs victory cake.


With Kelce stealing the headlines, you would be forgiven not to highlight the night Tyreek Hill had. The star fantasy wideout also went off for 148 yards and a touchdown as the Chiefs put their foot on the gas in the second half. This phenomenal catch from a brilliant Mahomes throw in the third quarter proved to be the catalyst for the comeback.


Hill’s first touchdown reception since Week 10 came at a perfect time for fantasy managers – after Kelce was hauled down just short of a score, Hill took advantage of the red zone situation by bringing in a high bullet of a pass from his quarterback in tight coverage to bring the Chiefs within two points.


This was a true two-man show from Andy Reid’s offense with the game on the line. A perfect concoction for the fantasy playoffs.


Los Angeles Chargers




Justin Herbert: 22/38, 236 yards, 2 TD, INT | 5 carries, 16 yards, TD


Subdued by the Chiefs late rally, Justin Herbert was much better than his stat-line shows in this game. It’s been a little bit like that for Herbert recently, who still managed a valuable fantasy haul for managers by throwing for two scores and running the ball in from the goal line in the second quarter down by 10 points.


Herbert backed up that score with a beautiful jump touchdown pass off the back foot to young receiver Jalen GuytonΒ to give the Chargers the lead going into the half.


Herbert was in his groove in the second half, firing this amazing back shoulder fade to Keenan Allen at the start of the fourth quarter as part of a sensational 12-play, 97-yard drive that finished with running back Joshua Kelly coughing up the ball on a goal line dive.


Herbert was also unlucky with his interception – the ball getting tipped at the line of scrimmage and ballooning up in the air and into the arms of the Chiefs defense.


Herbert connected with his main squueze, Keenan Allen to put the Chargers in front near the end of the fourth quarter with a third down dart in the middle of the end zone. Unfortunately, Herbert never got the chance to touch the ball in overtime to keep this wonderful quarterback duel alive. Please, someone change that silly rule!


Running Back


Justin Jackson: 13 carries, 86 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards

Austin Ekeler: 12 carries, 59 yards, TD | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 23 yards

Joshua Kelley: 7 carries, 21 yards, Fumble (Lost)

Gabe Nabers: 1 carry, 4 yards


Austin Ekeler shrugged off a niggling ankle injury to notch his 17th score of the season with a nice outside zone run for a touchdown to extend the Chargers’ lead midway through the fourth quarter. Ekeler shared the backfield with Justin Jackson, who also amassed 99 yards on 14 touches as Ekeler touched the ball 16 times.


Somewhat encouragingly in hindsight, Ekeler wasn’t on the field for a key goal line carry on third down on the previous drive of the game, which resulted in the Kelley fumble. After the Chargers took the ball straight back, it was Ekeler who immediately got the goal line carry and took the ball in. No doubt he gets the rock in those situations for the rest of the year.

Joshua Kelley won’t want to watch this too many times. Playing third fiddle behind Ekeler and Jackson for much of his NFL career, Kelley has been an afterthought in this offense. This could spell the end for his career as a Charger.


Jackson carried the ball well for the Chargers, something he also hasn’t had much chance to do with Ekeler emerging as one of the most dynamic backs in the league. This chunk 22-yard run kickstarted the drive that ended in the Kelley fumble. Talk about choosing the wrong back in that situation.



Wide Receiver/Tight End


Keenan Allen: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 78 yards, TD

Mike Williams: 9 targets, 3 receptions, 49 yards

Jared Cook: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards

Joshua Palmer: 1 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards

Stephen Anderson: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Jalen Guyton: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards, TD

Tre’ McKitty: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

Donald Parham Jr.: 1 target

Andre Roberts: 1 carry, 6 yards


Despite Herbert excelling, yardage was hard to come by for this receiving corps against a Chiefs defense that has improved immensely in pass defense throughout the season. Keenan Allen continues to set the standard for this team outside the numbers, connecting with his quarterback for key gains including the go-ahead touchdown late in the game.


Allen missed last week’s contest through COVID but fantasy managers will rejoice having him back for the playoffs. Allen did leave the field limping in the first half but managed to return and play a key part in the thrilling contest.

Mike Williams had a miserable night – the boom or bust wideout saw three straight red zone targets on the Chargers opening drive, failing to haul in two that really should have been caught. He saw the ball sparingly after that and didn’t see the ball in the red zone for the rest of the game.

It may not have been a quantitative impact, but rookie Josh Palmer once again impressed with his route running and catching ability. This play may have been the best catch of the game.


It was the same for the rest of the Chargers receiving corps with Jared Cook and Jalen Guyton making key contributions on scoring drives but not enough to please fantasy managers.

All thoughts with rookie tight end Donald Parham Jr. who was carted off the field and taken to hospital after a head injury in the opening moments. Best wishes.


Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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