Patrick Mahomes threw for 424 yards and four touchdowns, Travis Kelce caught 12 passes for 179 yards and a score, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-17 on Sunday to take command of the AFC West.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling had three catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, Rashee Rice and Isiah Pacheco also caught TD passes, and the Chiefs (6-1) won their sixth straight to take a three-game lead in a division they have won seven straight years.
The Chiefs were leading 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter when Mecole Hardman, who returned to Kansas City this week in a trade with the New York Jets, brought back a punt 50 yards. That gave Kansas City a short field and, six plays later, Mahomes hit Pacheco out of the backfield for the touchdown that put the game away.
The Chargers’ Justin Herbert, who spent the day under constant pressure from the league’s No. 2 scoring defense, had 259 yards passing with a touchdown and two interceptions. Joshua Palmer caught five passes for 133 yards and Joshua Kelley ran seven times for 75 yards and a score.
The Chiefs had been relying all season on their defense to bail out an offense that had struggled to hit its stride.
Mahomes & Co. finally found it in the first half.
After an opening drive that netted a field goal, the reigning league MVP capped three of the next four drives with TD passes. The first was a 46-yard strike to Valdes-Scantling, the second to Rice, and the final one — almost fittingly — a flip from the 1-yard line to Kelce, who bulldozed through a group of defenders and into the end zone with 15 seconds left in the first half.
That prompted big cheers from the home crowd, including Taylor Swift, who watched from a luxury suite and celebrated with a personalized handshake with Brittany Mahomes, the QB’s wife.
The score left Mahomes with 321 yards passing, the fourth time in his career that he had been over 300 yards before halftime. And it left Kelce with nine catches for 143 yards and a score.
It only left the Chiefs with a 24-17 lead, though, because the Chargers were getting some big plays of their own.
After the Chargers evened the score with a field goal of their own, Kelley got loose for a 49-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. And after Herbert connected with Palmer for 60 yards down the middle of the field, the Los Angeles quarterback found Gerald Everett in the end zone for a touchdown.
Given all the first-half offense, the second half was a dud. Both teams put together long drives in the third quarter, and both of them ended up with turnovers, leaving the Chiefs clinging to their 24-17 lead heading into the fourth.
Swift was again in attendance to watch Kelce and the Chiefs. She was seen wearing a friendship bracelet with “87” on it. Kelce’s failed attempt to give her a friendship bracelet during her Eras Tour led to the tight end’s courtship of the pop star, and an invitation to a game at Arrowhead Stadium. Swift took him up on it and they have been seeing each other ever since.
Chiefs pass rusher Charles Omenihu, who was suspended the first six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, made his debut in a big way. He had a sack in the first half and tipped a pass that L’Jarius Sneed picked off in the second.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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