Chiefs Defeat Chargers 24-17
November 21, 2019
Could have. Should have. Would have. That best epitomizes the 2019 NFL season for the Los Angeles Chargers: a season of lost opportunities. The Chargers did not have to travel all the way to Mexico City to prove that point, but they did anyway. On Monday Night in Mexico City, the Chargers once again threw a way a golden opportunity for a victory, losing 24-17 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw four interceptions in the loss, including an end zone interception to Daniel Sorensen with 18 seconds left in the game to seal the loss for the Chargers. The pass was intended for running back Austin Ekeler but was poorly thrown and fell short of Ekeler. Rivers has thrown seven interceptions in the past two games and is clearly trying to force some passes this season, with his 14 interceptions the second highest total in the NFL.
With the loss, the Chargers fell to 4-7 for the season. The Chiefs improved to 7-4 in the AFC West division, a half-game ahead of the Oakland Raiders, who are at 6-4. The loss was devastating to any hopes the team had to make the postseason. The Chargers are 0-3 in the division and 2-6 in the conference. They have a bye next week, before returning to action on Dec. 1 in Denver to take on the Broncos.
For all the drama of the last minute of the game, the Chargers lost this game in the first half. The Chargers completely dominated the first half. Rivers passed for 229 yards, with the Chargers dominating the Chiefs in total yards (312 to 109) and time of possession (20:21 to 9:39). The Chargers had five first half possessions in Chiefs territory but came out with only three goals. Michael "Money Badger" Badgley connected from 27 yards, 26 yards and 49 yards for all nine of the team's first half points.
Badgley also missed on a 40-yard field goal attempt in the first half. Another drive ended in a Rivers interception, which was caused when Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark hit Rivers as he was throwing the ball, with the ball popping up and falling into the arms of defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. The lone Chiefs touchdown was set-up by a Rivers interception that was returned 35 yards to the Chargers six-yard line. Running back LeSean McCoy scored on the next play on a six-yard run.
The Chargers had five opportunities to score a touchdown in the first half and they came away with nine points on three field goals. The Chiefs got a gift on the Rivers interception and went six yards for a touchdown. They led at halftime 10-9. As always, the Chargers are very competitive. They are in these games. But they are just not able to finish this season. They are 2-7 in games decided by seven points or less.
In the third quarter, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes finally got things going, scoring two touchdowns, the first a six-yard touchdown run from running back Darrell Williams and the second score a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. That gave the Chiefs a 24-9, third quarter lead. Rivers finally led the Chargers to a touchdown, driving 75 yards in six plays, the drive culminating in a 7-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen. The two-point conversion was good, and the Chargers had cut the lead to 24-17 late in the 3rd quarter.
Rivers threw two more interceptions in the 4th quarter, the last one from the Chiefs 15-yard line to effectively end the night for the Chargers. That last drive was set-up by a spectacular 50-yard reception by wide receiver Mike Williams. Rivers had thrown for 353 yards, but also had thrown 52 passes, which did not make a lot of sense. Against one of the NFL's worst run defenses, they threw the ball 52 times and ran it just 19 times. When they did run, they averaged 4.9 yards per carry.
The Chargers need to use the final five games of the regular season to figure out if this is the team, they want to send over to the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood? Rivers is on a pace to throw for over 4,600 yards, but the turnovers are offensively killing the Chargers. The Chargers need to find a consistent running game to support Rivers and need to commit to the running game. They need improvements in the offensive line. They need speed at wide receiver. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered in the remaining games and in the offseason.