The key plays, stats and grades from the Chiefs’ regular-season opening 38-28 win against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
Player of the game: Tyreek Hill surpassed 200 total yards by halftime, and the first two times he touched the ball this season resulted in touchdowns of 50-plus yards. He finished with seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns along with a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Reason to hope: The new-look offense led by a first-time starting quarterback looked pretty productive despite not having some of its biggest weapons clicking on Sunday. Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins combined for just four catches and 27 yards, and Patrick Mahomes still threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns.
Reason to mope: The Chiefs’ secondary left room for concern, and the Chargers left some big plays on the field and didn’t capitalize nearly as much as they could’ve. Philip Rivers threw for 424 yards and three touchdowns. The Chargers’ pass-catchers had multiple drops.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs hit the road again next weekend for a matchup with Pittsburgh, who will be coming off a season-opening tie with Cleveland. Pittsburgh figures to be one of the top teams in the AFC again, though it remains to be seen if they’ll have resolved matters with star running back Le’Veon Bell.
Rushing offense: C. The running game didn’t have to do much more than keep the defense honest on a day when the Chargers had their hands full containing the Chiefs’ passing attack. Led by Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware, the Chiefs averaged 3.9 yards per carry.
Passing offense: B+. The Chargers appeared to have few answers for the various weapons at Patrick Mahomes’ disposal. He threw touchdown passes to three different receivers. Hill turned intermediate throws into big plays, and Mahomes even connected with his fullback on a deep throw. Mahomes could’ve been a little bit more accurate and completed a higher percentage, but the passing game delivered.
Rushing defense: C. The Chargers were able to get Melvin Gordon going on their two drives of 90 yards or more, and they averaged better than five yards per carry against the Chiefs. However, they didn’t have back-breaking plays and the Chiefs actually kept their opponents out of the end zone on the ground.
Passing defense: C-. The Chiefs applied pressure to Philip Rivers and kept him from getting too comfortable in the pocket. Dee Ford’s sack early in the game was a big play. The Chargers’ running backs carried most of the load in the first half and took advantage of one-on-one matchups with linebackers. Keenan Allen asserted himself in the fourth quarter when the Chargers went pass-happy as they tried to rally. The Chiefs’ secondary had several miscues that they avoided paying for thanks to dropped passes or outright missed connections by Rivers and his receivers. Ron Parker did come up with an interception at a crucial point.
Special teams: A-. Tyreek Hill’s first punt return of the season went for 91 yards and a touchdown as he cut back across the field and picked up blocks to spring him. The play immediately gave the Chiefs momentum. They covered kicks well and limited the Chargers when they decided to take it out of the end zone. They blocked on field goals well. The only issue came on a penalty for an illegal block in the back on a punt return.
Coaching: B+. And Reid and his offensive staff had time to get creative, and it showed with the array of formations and moving pieces the Chiefs employed. The ball got spread around and the Chargers seemed to be playing catchup the whole time. Defensively, the Chiefs caught some breaks in the form of dropped passes on busted coverages, but they contained receiver Keenan Allen pretty well for the first three quarters and got pressure on Rivers.