Chargers takeaways after Chiefs loss

The Thursday night AFC West matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs had everything a football fan would want in a game. In the end, Kansas City came away with the 27-24 victory and started the season 2-0.

On the Chargers side, there are questions after a 1-1 start on the health of quarterback Justin Herbert after taking some punishment. Plus, center Corey Linsley left with a knee injury, so now he is a question mark moving forward.

Here are some thoughts on the Chargers loss:

  1. Too many mistakes

The Chargers had opportunities to take the ball away, but some misfortunes happened, for example, on the Chiefs third possession. Patrick Mahomes faced a third-and-four when he threw Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s way safety Nasir Adderley intercepted it, but an illegal contact penalty was called on cornerback Bryce Callahan. It took away the interception even though, on replay, it is clear Valdes-Scantling throws Callahan down. The Chiefs would take advantage when Mahomes rolled to his right and side armed a beauty to running back Jerick McKinnon for a nine-yard touchdown. It tied the game at 7.

After halftime, the Chargers scored on a Herbert to Mike Williams 15-yard touchdown catch. The Chiefs faced second down and 10 when Mahomes threw a pass intended for tight end Travis Kelce, but it was popped up by Asante Samuel Jr. and intercepted. The play was reviewed, and the referees determined he dropped the ball. This was a controversial call because, on the Amazon replay, it looked like Samuel got his hands underneath the ball. The NFL still doesn’t know what a catch is. This would have given the Chargers the ball at the KC 25-yard line with a 17-7 lead. Mahomes would throw a 41-yard laser to Justin Watson to put them within three points.

Right before the end of the third quarter, Mahomes drove the offense down to the goal line after a Kelce catch and run of 18-yards that ended with a WWE-esque spinebuster from Derwin James. On second and goal, Mahomes threw a dangerous pass to Jordy Fortson but Samuel jumped it and should have had a pick-six, but he dropped it. Fortson might have had a hand in knocking it down but that is a play that should have been made by the Chargers corner. Two dropped interceptions.

The Chiefs had tied up the game at 17 when Herbert led a solid offensive drive up the field that got them near the goal line after a 26-yard catch and run from tight end Gerald Everett. He was asking to come out, but the Chargers ran hurry up. Mistake. Herbert looks his way on the next play and is intercepted by Jaylen Watson, who took it back 99-yards for a pick-six. This deflating mistake gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game 24-17.

2. Chargers defense is legit

Two Kansas City touchdowns had questionable plays during their sequence, but those were the only ones Mahomes scored. Two. The Chargers defense, for the most part, held down their end of the bargain even with the mistakes they made with some dropped interceptions and some penalties. The Chiefs offense only scored 20 points after putting up 44 the week before. The Chiefs had ten possessions and only scored two touchdowns, which is quite impressive. The pressure was there all night, but the pass rushers only got in once, with Drue Tranquill and Khalil Mack combining for one sack. The secondary held Kelce to 51 yards and the passing game to 235 yards. Nothing crazy happened except the Watson 41-yard touchdown reception. The Chargers defense held it down for the most part and should continue to improve moving forward.

3. Justin Herbert is tough

There should be no question that Justin Herbert is a tough player. He will stand in the pocket and isn’t scared of taking hits. After halftime, the Chargers came out of the locker room without center Corey Linsley, who was dealing with a knee injury. He wouldn’t return. That is when there was a noticeable drop-off in the offensive production. There were five minutes left in the game when Herbert dropped back and took a vicious hit from Mike Danna. He was slow to get up, and Chase Daniel had to replace him for a snap. Throughout the game’s final minutes, it was evident Herbert was in pain. On a third down and-one, he could have run for the first down, but he was in such pain that he threw it away on the next play, he threw a dime to DeAndre Carter for a first and goal. Herbert finished off the drive with a touchdown pass to Josh Palmer. Herbert did get x-rays after the game, and head coach Brandon Staley said they would know more on Friday.

4. Best performance from a Charger?

After a two catch 10 yard performance, receiver Mike Williams stepped up on Thursday catching eight passes for 113 yards and one touchdown.

The Chargers have ten days off as they wait to play Jacksonville in week three. They need to rest, especially Herbert, Linsley, and receiver Keenan Allen, who didn’t play due to a hamstring injury. Those three are valuable to the team and will be needed next weekend.

If Thursday night showed them anything, they need to learn how to win those games late, but they are right there with Kansas City. They need some tweaks, but they went blow for blow with one of the best teams in the NFL. Now it is about building on it.

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