Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce Connect on GW TD as Chiefs Top Chargers in OT Classic

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The red-hot Kansas City Chiefs are in full control of the AFC West.

Kansas City defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 34-28 in Thursday's thrilling overtime divisional showdown at SoFi Stadium. Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce for the winning score and led the way for the victors, who improved to 10-4 with their seventh consecutive win.


TRAVIS KELCE WINS IT FOR THE <a href="https://twitter.com/Chiefs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CHIEFS</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KCvsLAC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KCvsLAC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ChiefsKingdom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ChiefsKingdom</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/tkelce?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@tkelce</a> <a href="https://t.co/4royb0bA6E">pic.twitter.com/4royb0bA6E</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

MAHOMES AND THE CHIEFS HOLD OFF THE CHARGERS 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/cMsgMLPzIJ">pic.twitter.com/cMsgMLPzIJ</a>

Not only are the Chiefs now two games clear in the division, but they also moved temporarily ahead of the 9-4 New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans in the battle for the AFC's only first-round bye.    

An impressive showing from Justin Herbert wasn't enough for the Chargers, who saw their two-game winning streak come to an end as they fell to 8-6.

Notable Player Stats

  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC: 31-of-47 passing for 410 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • Travis Kelce, TE, KC: 10 catches for 191 yards, 2 TDs
  • Tyreek Hill, WR, KC: 12 catches for 148 yards, 1 TD
  • Justin Herbert, QB, LA: 22-of-38 passing for 236 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 5 carries for 16 yards, 1 TD
  • Keenan Allen, WR, LA: 6 catches for 78 yards, 1 TD

Mahomes Overcomes Early Struggles, Puts on Late Show

Kansas City's 3-4 start meant it had to play near perfect football to have a realistic chance at landing the AFC's only first-round bye, but that has largely been the case for Mahomes and Co. of late.

That perfect football was on display early for the visitors, as the defense forced a turnover on downs and notched an interception in the first quarter while the offense marched 95 yards on its first possession with fullback Michael Burton finishing the job with a touchdown.

However, that momentum was short-lived with two straight drives stalling in a field goal and punt before Joey Bosa's strip-sack of Mahomes preserved the Chargers' lead heading into halftime.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Mahomes ➡️ Kelce. Clutch TD <br><br>THIS GAME 🍿<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/hGLpxyOEvc">pic.twitter.com/hGLpxyOEvc</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

TD KC‼<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>) <a href="https://t.co/YYOhWIBMRD">pic.twitter.com/YYOhWIBMRD</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Mahomes and Kelce with a BIG TIME 69-yard connection 🔥<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/A0edfGNJAq">pic.twitter.com/A0edfGNJAq</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Tyreek. Hill. HOW⁉️<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/qqifADJxI6">pic.twitter.com/qqifADJxI6</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Chiefs make it look easy. <br><br>KC on the board first 🔥<br> <br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/g6wyIlGujk">pic.twitter.com/g6wyIlGujk</a>

Those offensive issues continued in the second half when the Chiefs' first drive stalled in the red zone for a field goal before Mahomes made two uncharacteristic mistakes in key moments. 

The first came on a fourth-down play from the Chargers' 2-yard line when he appeared to lose the grip on the ball and threw it into the ground when Mecole Hardman was wide open, and the second came when he threw an interception to Uchenna Nwosu deep in his own territory to set up a Los Angeles touchdown.

Mahomes wouldn't be Mahomes if he didn't bounce back, and he did just that with two incredible drives. The first one featured a long completion to Kelce to set up a Tyreek Hill touchdown, while the second one saw the quarterback evade pressure multiple times, break free for a critical run and then find Kelce for the touchdown that forced overtime.

The ending felt inevitable when the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss, and Mahomes made sure of it with a dime to Kelce, who broke free from Los Angeles' secondary and did the rest himself.

Missed Opportunities Cost Chargers

Los Angeles entered this showdown with a wide variety of possibilities at one game back in the race for the AFC's No. 1 seed but just one game ahead in the loss column of six teams with six losses battling for wild-card spots.

While the home team answered the pressure with a 14-10 halftime lead thanks to two touchdowns from Herbert—one on a run and one on a strike to Jalen Guyton—it was left thinking about what could have been thanks to missed opportunities.

After all, it had 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line on two different occasions and came away with no points. Throw in a Herbert interception to Anthony Hitchens on another possession, and the Chargers left plenty of points on the board.

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Justin Herbert runs it in for the TD ⚡️<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>) <a href="https://t.co/jcb8BLJxKv">pic.twitter.com/jcb8BLJxKv</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Herbert threw an absolute dart for the clutch TD 🎯<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/xqXIANRswo">pic.twitter.com/xqXIANRswo</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

MAHOMES PICKED 😮⁰⁰(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/PDza7PX835">pic.twitter.com/PDza7PX835</a>


Herbert is on a pace not matched by any QB in NFL history. <a href="https://twitter.com/chargers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Chargers</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BoltUp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BoltUp</a> <a href="https://t.co/R3DaiOye1T">pic.twitter.com/R3DaiOye1T</a>


Herbert gets himself a passing TD to put the <a href="https://twitter.com/chargers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Chargers</a> ahead! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BoltUp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BoltUp</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KCvsLAC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KCvsLAC</a> on NFLN/FOX/PRIME VIDEO<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/yEB6Ii5nMh">https://t.co/yEB6Ii5nMh</a> <a href="https://t.co/QseBcBD1z7">pic.twitter.com/QseBcBD1z7</a>

The Chargers also had far bigger worries than the missed chances since tight end Donald Parham Jr. was stretchered off the field during the first quarter in a scary scene. The team later announced he was hospitalized and in stable condition.

In the second half, Los Angeles turned it over on downs again on a 4th-and-2 in Kansas City territory when Herbert couldn't connect with Jared Cook, who also dropped a surefire touchdown in the first half. Its next drive saw Keenan Allen miss a wide-open Mike Williams for a possible touchdown on a trick play before Joshua Kelley stunningly fumbled on the Chiefs' 1-yard line.

To the offense's credit, it scored with a short field after Nwosu's interception and then scored a go-ahead touchdown with just more than two minutes remaining when Herbert fired a throw through a tight window to Allen. However, it was the defense that missed its opportunity this time, giving up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and another in overtime to lose.                    

What's Next?

Both teams face AFC foes in Week 16 when the Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chargers travel to play the Houston Texans.