The Chiefs saw what would have been their 12th win of the season, a third consecutive AFC West title and a first-round playoff bye slip through their fingers with a 29-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night. In the process, the Chiefs suffered their first loss of the season at Arrowhead Stadium.
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Player of the game: Damien Williams gained 123 yards of total offense in his first start with the Chiefs. He led the team with 74 receiving yards, and he also rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
Reason to hope: Damien Williams stepped in with almost no track record in this offense, and delivered big plays in the screen game and showed some quickness and elusiveness.
Reason to mope: The Chiefs offense sputtered when they needed to get a first down in order to ice the game, and the defense couldn’t stop Philip Rivers in the crucial final possession.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs will now get a weekend off to rest and recover before turning their attention toward their final road game of the regular season, against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 23.
Rushing offense: C. The Chiefs relied more on screens and swing passes than traditional runs, but they were able to power their way into the end zone and take time off the clock early in the fourth quarter while expanding their lead.
Passing offense: C. The pass protection kept Patrick Mahomes relatively clean against one of the league’s top pass rush tandems in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III. Mahomes got sacked just twice. Mahomes spread the ball around to eight receivers. The receiving corps had limited production. Running back Damien Williams led the team in receiving yards.
Rushing defense: D. The Chargers’ third-string running back led a rushing attack that accounted for 119 rushing yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry.
Passing defense: D. The Chiefs forced Philip Rivers into two interceptions and applied pressure throughout. They finished with five sacks and 12 quarterback hits. The penalties against the defensive backs extended drives and proved costly.
Special teams: B. Tremon Smith had a big kick return of 51 yards early in the second quarter with some great blocking to pave the way. The PAT unit shook off recent struggles. Punter Dustin Colquitt had a punt downed inside the 10, and he nearly added another late in the first half. The penalty on a kick return with 3:43 remaining and the Chiefs needing to protect a lead did not help their cause.
Coaching: C-. Offensively, the Chiefs used the screen passes to slow that aggressive front of the Chargers similarly to the way they used numerous shovel passes in the first meeting. Defensively, they held Philip Rivers in check for most of the game, and forced the Chargers to use the ground attack with an injury-ravaged backfield. Ultimately, they couldn’t stop him in crunch time. Special teams looked more like the units Chiefs fans have come to expect. Penalties, again, were too often and at inopportune times.