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Here’s something you don’t see often: The Kansas City Chiefs stuck on single-digit points going into the fourth quarter.
Patrick Mahomes is the NFL’s best quarterback, and the Chiefs might have the league’s best offense, but it is possible to slow them down. The Los Angeles Chargers showed it can be done. The Chiefs didn’t break 200 yards until the first minute of the fourth quarter. It’s even possible that a rookie making his NFL debut could outplay Mahomes for three quarters. After three quarters, Mahomes had 126 yards. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had 273.
The problem is that it’s hard to keep the Chiefs down for all four quarters, much less a fifth. Mahomes got hot in the fourth and took the game to overtime. The Chiefs won 23-20 in overtime. Kansas City tied it on a field goal at the end of regulation, and Harrison Butker finished it in overtime with a winning 58-yard field goal.
Even when the Chiefs’ offense is stuck in first gear for three quarters, they can still find a way to win.
How did the Chargers slow down the Chiefs for three quarters?
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram form one of the best 1-2 pass-rush duos in football. The Chargers rarely blitzed (though a well-timed third-down blitz forced a bad throw and an incompletion in the first half) and pressured Mahomes often. The best way to slow down a great offense is with a great effort from the defensive line, and the Chargers had success with that until the fourth quarter.
The Chargers are one of the few teams that can have success against the Chiefs playing that style. They have good cornerbacks who can cover if the four-man rush doesn’t get there right away. The Chiefs receivers were very quiet for most of the game on Sunday. Through three quarters, Tyreek Hill had one catch for 14 yards and Demarcus Robinson had one catch for 6 yards. That was it for the Chiefs receivers.
They started to find some room in the fourth quarter. Mahomes made a phenomenal throw to Hill for a 54-yard touchdown. They had the long drive at the end when they trailed 20-17. They got enough yards in overtime to win it. That was the Chiefs offense we’re used to seeing.
Even though the Chiefs got going eventually, it’s still an accomplishment to keep them down for three quarters. It’s just that not every team has the personnel to copy that plan.
Chiefs move the ball in fourth quarter, OT
The other way to keep the Chiefs from scoring is to hold the ball. The Chargers had a fourth-quarter drive that took 10:21 after Hill’s touchdown. That drive ended with a field goal and a 20-17 Chargers lead.
Mahomes still had 2:20 to work with. He picked up 27 quick yards on throws to Travis Kelce and Hill. Hill picked up a key third-and-7 on a catch over the middle. A long catch to the 10-yard line by Clyde Edwards-Helaire was wiped out due to a holding penalty, but Mahomes came up big with a 21-yard run on third-and-20. The Chiefs had clock management issues in the final minute and ran out of time, having to kick a second-down field goal with three seconds left despite still having a timeout remaining.
The Chargers didn’t get a first down to start overtime, and punted instead of going for it. They should regret that. The Chiefs drove into Chargers territory, picking up a fourth-and-1 on the drive. When faced with another fourth-and-1 with two minutes left, the Chiefs opted to try the field goal. After a false start penalty moved it back 5 yards and a late Chargers timeout negated another make, Butker finally nailed it to push the Chiefs’ record to 2-0.
The last time Kansas City lost was Nov. 10, 2019 against the Tennessee Titans. At least on Sunday, future opponents could see that the Chiefs’ offense can be slowed down. For a little while.
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