The Los Angeles Chargers had the opportunity to steal a road win over the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, but instead, they fell short with a 27-24 loss at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chargers held a 10-point lead in the third quarter before the team's offense grew stagnant. The Chiefs took advantage and rattled off 20 unanswered points to turn the game around.
Thursday's game was notably mismanaged by Los Angeles head coach Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Staley, who has been known for his aggression, was surprisingly conservative in moments where he should've been assertive.
In the first half, the Chargers had 4th-and-short in Kansas City territory twice and elected to punt each time. Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert had success throwing to wide receiver Mike Williams early on, but he was virtually removed from the offense and held without a catch after his touchdown reception early in the third quarter.
Herbert also was visibly banged up late in the fourth quarter but showed a ton of toughness to stay in the game while fighting through an apparent rib injury. He even threw a touchdown with 1:11 left to cut the deficit to three points. But it was too little, too late, as Kansas City recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Staley and Lombardi drew the ire of NFL Twitter for their timid play-calling.
Warren Sharp @SharpFootball
prison is a reasonable punishment for a play caller who has <br><br>JUSTIN MFIN HERBERT<br><br>average 3.8 air yards on early downs<br><br>THREE POINT EIGHT YARDS<br><br>15 attempts at or behind the line of scrimmage on early downs tonight<br><br>absolutely sickening<br><br>he's killing our prince
The Chargers are expected to be contenders in the AFC this season, but it will take a concerted effort from both the players and coaches to minimize errors along the way. On Thursday, the players were let down by Staley and Lombardi because of their conservative approach.
Los Angeles will have a few extra days to address the deficiencies from Thursday before the team returns to action on Sept. 25 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.