The Los Angeles Chargers were well aware of the problems that Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce would present and that was on full display during a huge divisional game.
Mahomes found Kelce for the go-ahead score with 31 seconds remaining and the Kansas City Chiefs were able to come from behind to outlast the Chargers 30-27 in a back-and-forth thriller on Sunday night at SoFi stadium.
The Chargers held a 27-23 lead with just under two minutes to play but Mahomes was able to engineer a six-play, 75-yard game-winning drive that resulted in Kansas City improving to 8-2 while taking a three-game lead in the AFC West and sweeping the season series over Los Angeles.
“When I went in the huddle, it was let’s just do it. Everyone had the mindset of take it one play at a time and get it when it counts,” said Mahomes, who leads the league in yards and touchdowns.
Los Angeles fell to 5-5 on the year and have now lost back-to-back games.
“To close out games against great offenses, special players, the rush and coverage has to come alive,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said postgame. “You have to rush and you have to cover at the end of games, and they made a couple of more plays than we did.”
Patrick Mahomes completed 20 of 34 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns that all went to his favorite target. Kelce finished with six catches for 115 yards and three scores.
“We didn’t have our full arsenal of weapons. I was ready for the matchup,” said Kelce. “I knew they were going to play man-to-man and Patrick was going to look for me when it was 1-on-1. I was able to finish the game off on a positive note.”
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was 23 of 30 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores were to Palmer, who finished with a team-high eight receptions for 106 yards.
Austin Ekeler recorded a one-yard rushing score in the second period as the Chargers took a 20-13 lead at halftime.
Palmer caught a 50-yard score in the first period and a six-yard score in the fourth that gave the Chargers a 27-23 lead with 1:46 left in the fourth.
Los Angeles got two weapons back in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who returned to the field for the first time since Week 7. Allen finished with five catches for 94 yards, recording new season-highs.
“Keenan was on a little bit of a pitch count tonight,” Staley said. “This is part of his return to play. I thought he exceeded my expectations, for sure. I thought he played well in the game. He felt good all week and he kind of played how he practiced.”
Kelce caught a 32-yard score early in the fourth period and the 17-yard game-winning score with 31 seconds remaining, enabling the Chiefs to close the game out after Herbert was intercepted by Nick Bolton on the final drive of the game off a deflected pass.
“He’s a great player. Can’t take anything from him. He’s gonna finish as one of the best tight ends to ever play the game, like he showed tonight,” Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen said on Kelce. “Time after time, he does that.”
“You should be frustrated. To not beat those guys is disappointing because we felt like our level was good enough to win, but we didn’t finish plays in that fourth quarter to get it done,” Staley said.
The Chargers will next travel to face the Arizona Cardinals (4-7) on the road in Glendale.
“Close is not good enough in this league,” Chargers safety Derwin James said. “I didn’t make enough winning plays, we didn’t make enough winning plays to win the game. It hurts but we got to move on and get ready for the next one.”