The Thursday Night Football duel between two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Justin Herbert of the L.A. Chargers, did not disappoint. In an AFC West fight for first place, fans and sports bettors got their money’s worth.
George Karlaftis of the Kansas City Chiefs gets in front of L.A. Chargers QB Justin Herbert in the NFL Week 2 Chiefs vs Chargers game. The final score was not what sports bettors hoped for. (Image: Kansas City Star)
The Chargers took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. In their first two offensive drives, the Chiefs resorted to the ground attack to try to put points on the scoreboard. However, both attempts failed. Mahomes, harassed by constant pressure, suffered a sack from linebacker Khalil Mack that deflated the team’s energy.
It was a seventh-round rookie who made the biggest play Thursday night and turned things around. Having trailed throughout the game, the Chiefs (2-0) took the lead thanks to cornerback Jaylen Watson. From there, Kansas City wouldn’t let go.
Defense Saves the Day
The Chargers were having a great day on both offense and defense. In the second quarter, Herbert connected in the end zone with running back Zander Horvath, a rookie drafted in the seventh round of this year’s Draft, to extend the lead 10-0.
A series later, the Chiefs offense finally found its place. It marched 70 yards in 10 plays before Mahomes’ touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon. That made the game 10-7 before halftime.
After the break, the Chargers continued to dominate. Herbert hurt Kansas City’s deep defense with receiver Mike Williams, who made a spectacular one-handed catch in the end zone that extended the lead 17-7.
The Chiefs managed to close that gap in the third quarter. Mahomes, who completed for 235 yards, picked up his second aerial TD when he connected with wide receiver Justin Watson to move to within three as the third quarter came to an end.
On the first play of the fourth period, Chiefs kicker Matt Ammendola tied the game 17-17 with a field goal. He recently moved up from the practice squad to replace injured starter Harrison Butker.
Chargers Run Out of Juice
With five minutes remaining, Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna penetrated the line and dropped Herbert. It was a blow that anyone watching the game could feel.
Danna’s hit, while powerful, wasn’t the worst part. He went down under Herbert, who then planted his rib cage on the defender’s helmet. The QB was slow to get up and wouldn’t be the same for the rest of the game.
Despite that, Herbert, with a total of 334 yards in the air and three touchdowns, showed why he’s one of the best athletes in the league. It was obvious by his reactions on the field that he was playing in pain, but he got his third touchdown pass one minute from the end. That was enough to push the Chargers to within three of the Chiefs, but the offense would go no further.
Jaylen Watson shut L.A. down for good. With 10 minutes left in the game, the corner jumped on a pass from QB Justin Herbert and took it the other way for a Pick-6 off a 99-yard run.
With that, Kansas City rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat the Chargers 27-24 to kick off Week 2. The Chiefs improve to 2-0 and grab the AFC West lead, although the Chargers (1-1) are going to continue to be a threat.
Sportsbooks had the Chiefs to win by a small margin and they didn’t disappoint. The Chargers covered the 4-point spread, which will make more than a few sports bettors happy.
However, the Over/Under for the game was 54. History and the competitive nature of these two teams seemed to indicate an Over was in order. It missed, but not by much. If Herbert hadn’t suffered his debilitating injury, who knows what would have happened.
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