The Kansas City Chiefs held on to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers, 24-17, in a thriller at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Monday night.
Leading by seven points with just 24 seconds left, Chiefs’ safety Daniel Sorensen picked off Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers in the end zone to seal the victory for Kansas City. The play – Rivers’ fourth interception of the night – capped off an impressive showing by the defense to defend Kansas City’s lead late, helping the Chiefs move to 7-4 on the year.
Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 19-of-32 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in the contest, finding tight end Travis Kelce seven times for 92 yards.
The two squads were locked in a low-scoring affair through the first half of action, however, combining for just 19 points. The Chargers tallied a field goal on their initial possession, taking the early lead, before Rivers tossed interceptions on back-to-back drives midway through the first half.
Rivers’ first pick was essentially a fumble, as defensive end Frank Clark came tearing around the edge and ripped the ball free before it fell in the arms of defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. The takeaway marked the first interception of Nnadi’s professional and college career.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu was responsible for Rivers’ second turnover, sprinting across the field to pluck the ball out of midair before returning it 35 yards down to the Chargers’ 6-yard line.
Chiefs’ tailback LeSean McCoy then cashed in on the takeaway a snap later, plunging ahead for a six-yard touchdown to put Kansas City in front.
Kansas City was back in the end zone on their first drive of the second half, as tailback Darrel Williams rushed ahead for a six-yard score to extend the Chiefs’ advantage. The touchdown completed a strong drive that included a 20-yard dash by Mahomes and receptions of double-digit yardage by both wide receiver Sammy Watkins and McCoy, setting up Williams’ score.
The Chiefs’ defense held Los Angeles without a first down on their ensuring drive, and just three minutes of game clock later, Mahomes had Kansas City back on the scoreboard with a 23-yard scoring strike to Kelce.
It was part of a big night for Kelce – who became the fastest tight end to record 450 career catches and 6,000 yards during the game – as Kansas City built a double-digit lead in a blink of an eye after the two teams operated within a score of one another for the entirety of the first half.
Los Angeles answered, however, when Rivers hit wide receiver Keenan Allen on a seven-yard touchdown, and following a successful two-point try, the margin was back to just seven points as the fourth quarter got underway.
The two teams then traded possessions without yielding a single point, with Clark making drive-stalling plays on consecutive defensive series before rookie cornerback Rashad Fenton picked off Rivers late in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles had one final chance with just under two minutes remaining and moved into the red zone as Rivers hit wide receiver Mike Williams on a 50-yard pass in the final seconds, but Sorensen nabbed the ball out of the air four plays later to preserve the lead.
The victory marked Kansas City’s 24th victory in their last 27 games against the AFC West, the most of any team against their own division.
The Chiefs will have next weekend off before returning to Arrowhead Stadium on December 1 to take on the Oakland Raiders.