Kansas City Chiefs seize early control of the AFC West, defeat Los Angeles Chargers – ESPN

KANSAS CITY — The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 on Thursday night as Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 35 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns to outduel Justin Herbert.

Kansas City Chiefs

Jaylen Watson seemed almost to be an afterthought when the Chiefs made him their third cornerback selected after taking him in the seventh round this year. Already Watson has become a crucial player for the Chiefs.

Playing because starter Trent McDuffie went on injured reserve this week, Watson delivered the Chiefs’ biggest play of what could eventually prove to be their biggest win of the season. Watson intercepted a pass from Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in the fourth quarter and returned it 99 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The Chiefs went on to beat their AFC West rivals 27-24.

When the Chargers snapped the ball from the Chiefs’ 3, they had a win probability of 73%, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. That probability swung to 81% for the Chiefs after Watson’s pick-six.

Big win: The Chiefs (2-0) are the only AFC West team without a loss, giving them an early advantage in the standings.

Buy/sell on a breakout performance: Wide receiver Justin Watson caught a 41-yard touchdown pass and one other ball as he passed rookie Skyy Moore on the depth chart based on snap counts against the Chargers. Watson worked well with Patrick Mahomes during training camp, so his play isn’t a surprise. He was most effective during camp in the red zone, where he used his size well at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds. Watson should get significant playing time as long as he’s the fourth wide receiver, which he clearly was on Thursday night.

Troubling trend: The Chiefs’ short-yardage offense struggled. They were 1-of-5 on third-and-3 or less. These struggles led coach Andy Reid to call for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs trailing 17-14. — Adam Teicher

Underrated statistic to know: Eight different Chiefs players had at least two catches, tied for the most in a game in the Patrick Mahomes era (since 2018). It is the second time Kansas City has done that over that span. The first also came against the Chargers, in Week 3 last season in Kansas City.

Next game: at Colts (1:00 p.m. ET, Sept. 25)

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