Chargers stun Chiefs with late touchdown, two-point conversion
The Los Angeles Chargers stunned the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, scoring a touchdown and converting a two-point conversion with four seconds remaining to pull off a 29-28 thriller that just threw a wrench in the Chiefs’ hopes for clinching a first-round playoff bye.
That’s what it appeared the Chiefs had locked up — and a division title — when they led by 14 points three different times against a team they had beaten nine straight times coming in. But now the Chargers, who played without RBs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler and who lost Keenan Allen to injury early in the game, turned the party upside down at Arrowhead Stadium.
Philip Rivers hit Mike Williams, who had his best NFL game, on a fourth-and-goal touchdown with four seconds remaining to bring the score to 28-27, Kansas City. Once Williams’ catch was confirmed, the Chargers went for two and got it. Rivers found Williams wide open for the jaw-dropping go-ahead score.
The Chargers and Chiefs both are 11-3 and in the playoffs now. The AFC West is still up for grabs. This division is a lot of fun.
“Hopefully we get to play them again,” Rivers told NFL Network after the game, “but they’re a heck of a team.”
Rivers was harassed much of the night but completed 26-of-38 passes for 313 yards with two scores, overcoming two bad interceptions. Williams finished with seven catches for 76 yards and two TDs, along with a 19-yard rushing score and the game-winning two-point conversion grab.
The Chiefs looked like the more dominant team early on, feeding off the rabid crowd and taking control after Rivers was picked on his first pass of the game. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense converted that into their first touchdown, and though the Chargers trailed 14-7 at halftime they did a good job of making it really a three-possession half for the high-powered Chiefs.
Damien Williams stepped in for Spencer Ware, who was replacing Kareem Hunt, and did a fantastic job. Williams scored the second and third rushing TDs of his career, and he tallied 123 yards from scrimmage. Mahomes made some of his patented jaw-dropping throws and appeared to deliver a back-breaking 15-yard completion against the blitz on third-and-10 deep in Chargers territory. They’d convert that 13-play, nearly eight-minute drive and take a 28-14 lead with 8:15 left in the fourth.
The Chargers struck back with a 75-yard TD drive to make it a one-score game with just under four minutes left. The Chiefs got conservative, though, and had to give it back to Rivers. It wasn’t a pretty drive, but Rivers ripped a gorgeous 31-yard throw to Travis Benjamin to get into Kansas City territory and found Benjamin for 26 more on fourth-and-7 to extend the game, setting up goal-to-go. After Rivers was sacked — and no helmet-to-helmet call was given to Justin Houston on it — a Chiefs pass interference call moved the ball from the 10 to the 1-yard line to set up the game-winning score.
This game simultaneously felt like a changing of the stripes of the Chargers, who long had refused to give up the mantle of the NFL’s least opportune team, as well as a gut shot for the Chiefs. For most of the game, they were the better team. And yet as strong as they look, and as reasonable as each of their three losses this season have been, this is the kind of poor late-game execution that has haunted the Chiefs in their miserable recent playoff history.
Could we be treated to a third Chiefs-Chargers game? If so, it feels like we’d be treated to more of the showcase we saw Thursday night than the previous spate of Chargers letdowns against this team.