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Travis Kelce got his swagger back on Thursday night.
In an AFC West battle between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, the top spot in the division was within the Chargers’ reach with a potential win. Instead, Los Angeles felt out of their element all evening and the Chargers lost, 34-28, by reverting to the same errant mistakes that plagued the team back at Qualcomm.
The Chiefs struck first early in the game with a touchdown run by fullback Michael Burton, but the Chargers got going in the second quarter with two scores off a Justin Herbert touchdown run and a pass in the end zone to receiver Jalen Guyton.
A frightening injury to tight end Donald Parham short-handed the Chargers’ offense but Herbert managed to keep the team afloat — even in an average performance. On the night, Herbert completed 22 of 38 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Los Angeles maintained a lead heading into the fourth quarter at 14-13 before the two teams began to exchange blows in the final 12 minutes.
First came a 2-yard run by Chargers running back Austin Ekeler to go up 21-13. A march down the field for a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill and a 2-point conversion brought the Chiefs back to tie the game, 21-21. A Keenan Allen score with 2:19 left in the game put the pressure back on KC to engineer a game-tying drive. It turns out all they needed was a minute and three seconds to skip down the field and cap off the drive with a 7-yard score to Travis Kelce.
The game proceeded to overtime at 28-28.
Thursday night’s game did have a turning point when safety Derwin James left early due to a hamstring injury. Once the lauded defender was off the field, the Chiefs sensed that it was time to unleash their tight end.
Kelce was bound for another disappointing performance in what’s been an uncharacteristically down year for the GOAT tight end. But once James was out, Kelce had a day: catching nine passes for 177 yards and two scores. Prior to the Chargers losing Derwin, Kelce had only one catch for 14 yards.
While the praise can be dismissed on behalf of the missing player, Kelce did play like the alpha tight end of old: shown best by in 34-yard touchdown catch and run down the middle of the SoFi field to score the go-ahead, game-winning touchdown in OT.
Patrick Mahomes completed 31 of 47 passes for 410 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The perennial MVP candidate did enough for the win but had a couple of noteworthy turnovers; including a strip-sack fumble given to Joey Bosa and an interception thrown on the doorstep of the Chiefs’ end zone. Turnovers remain a challenge for Mahomes to clean up but he still got the job done.
The Chiefs improved to 10-4 off their seventh consecutive win and the Chargers fell to 8-6.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela