The Chiefs needed a spark. The Chargers had just taken a three-touchdown lead on a field goal midway through the third quarter. At that point, the Chiefs had produced 101 total yards.
Finally, something good happened. Quarterback Alex Smith and running back Spencer Ware teamed for a 45-yard strike, and the Chiefs worked their way to the Chargers’ 9.
On second down, Smith fired a quick lateral strike to rookie Tyreek Hill, and with a wall of blockers in front of him, Hill did what he does best, turn on the jets.
The fist pump actually started before Hill reached the end zone.
“It was just a group of players making a play,” Hill said.
Indeed. Fellow wide receiver Jeremy Maclin threw a key block, and so did the left side of the offensive line.
The play happened quickly and started the run of points that led to the Chiefs’ 33-27 overtime victory.
“Instincts took over,” Hill said. “I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end.”
The Chiefs had been waiting for an impact play from a player with uncommon speed. Hill, the team’s fifth-round selection from West Alabama, had a superb training camp but couldn’t cash in on several opportunities in the exhibition games.
On Sunday, Hill seemed on the verge of breaking a big return. He returned three punts for an 11.7-yard average, with a long of 14.
As it turned out, his big moment came from a short distance, and it was desperately needed. The Chiefs cut the deficit to 24-10, and their confidence was starting to grow.
“We cut it to 14 with a decent amount of time left and I knew it was possible there,” Smith said. “I knew we were going to get a couple of possessions and have a chance.”
The Chiefs finished the game on a 30-3 run, and Hill got it started.