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Chargers' Brandon Staley Defends 4th-Down Calls After Miscues in Loss to Chiefs

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2021

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

While Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill took over down the stretch of the Kansas City Chiefs' 34-28 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday, the game may not have even gone into overtime if the home team wasn't 2-of-5 on fourth-down attempts.

Yet head coach Brandon Staley stressed that is how the team will continue to play.

"That's the way we're going to play around here," he told reporters. "That's how we're going to become the team we're ultimately capable of being."

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

"The quickest way to win a game like that is to score touchdowns not field goals, especially considering who's on the other side."<br><br>Chargers coach Brandon Staley on being aggressive on 4th down against the Chiefs. <a href="https://t.co/4mskizFo2J">pic.twitter.com/4mskizFo2J</a>

It wasn't just the turnovers on downs that hurt the Chargers. It was where they occurred on the field.

They had 1st-and-goal from the Chiefs' 5-yard line twice in the first half only to come away with zero combined points on those two drives. The second one featured an incomplete pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line to end the first half, leaving Los Angeles thinking about its missed chances instead of a 14-10 lead at intermission.

The third turnover on downs came when the Chargers moved the ball to the Chiefs' 28-yard line on their first possession of the second half, only for them to stall on another promising opportunity.

While the offense finally got going late with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Staley's team could have used the cushion scoring on those three drives would have provided when Mahomes finally found his footing and led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and another in overtime to clinch the win.

Mahomes' ability to catch fire so quickly underscores why Staley went for touchdowns instead of field goals.

After all, defeating the daunting Chiefs offense is difficult enough of a task on its own without settling for field goals during golden opportunities to score touchdowns. Yes, in this particular instance a couple of extra field goals could have made the difference, but keeping pace with Kansas City's firepower almost always requires touchdowns.

The Chargers are now 8-6 and in the middle of a crowded AFC wild-card race. Fortunately for them, they will have a chance to play the 2-11 Houston Texans in Week 16 as they look to bounce back.

They might not need to go for fourth down as often to win that one.