Chiefs at Chargers score: Travis Kelce caps career-high performance with walk-off TD to lift Kansas City

A wild night in Los Angeles ended with a dynamic play. In overtime on Thursday, the Chiefs defeated the Chargers on Patrick' Mahomes 34-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce, who caught 10 passes for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs' 34-28 win marked Kansas City's seventh consecutive win while improving to 10-4 on the season. The Chargers, who came up short on three critical fourth-down conversions during regulation, fell to 8-6. 

The Chiefs led 14-13 entering the fourth quarter before the two teams scored a combined 29 points in the final stanza. Los Angeles twice took the lead in the fourth quarter but was unable to hold off Mahomes, who threw two fourth quarter touchdowns before hitting Kelce for the game-winning score just one minute and 15 seconds into the extra period. 

At the start of the game, Los Angeles endured an unfortunate turn of events following Andre Roberts' 75-yard return of the opening kickoff. After two runs by Austin Ekeler gained 19 yards, Mike Williams was unable to hold on to Justin Herbert's bullet pass in the end zone on second-and-goal. Two plays later, tight end Donald Parham was carted off of the field after falling hard on his head after trying to catch Herbert's pass in the end zone. Parham was carted off the field and was in stable condition while undergoing tests for a head injury at UCLA Harbor Medical Center. 

The Chiefs' offense quickly moved 95 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead on Michael Burton's 7-yard run. One of the drive's key plays was Mahomes' 14-yard completion to Kelce on a second-and-14 play. The Chiefs were driving on their next drive before the Chargers' defense was able to hold them to a field goal. The Chargers' offense then drove 75 yards in 10 plays to score their first points of the night. Herbert, who went 3 of 3 for 40 yards on the drive, ended the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. 

After a Chiefs three-and-out, Herbert and the Chargers' offense took advantage of a short field by taking a 14-10 lead. The 42-yard drive ended when Herbert beat the rush and found Jalen Guyton in the end zone for a 4-yard score. Herbert's touchdown was the only pass play on the Chargers' nine-play drive. 

The half ended the way it started, with the Chargers coming up short on fourth-and-goal. On the final play of the half, Herbert's pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage by safety Daniel Sorensen, keeping the Chargers' lead at 14-10 at intermission. 

After the Chiefs started the second half with a field goal, the Chargers drove downfield before coming up short on yet another fourth down. This time, Herbert failed to connect with Jared Cook, as his pass was broken up by linebacker Nick Bolton on fourth-and-2 on the Chiefs' 28-yard line. 

Kansas City then drove to the Chargers' 2-yard line before Mecole Hardman was unable to pull in Mahomes' low pass just short of the end zone on fouth and goal. The Chargers drove and — you guessed it — went for it on fourth down yet again. But this time, the Chargers picked up the first down on Joshua Kelley's seven yard run. But the Chargers' celebration was cut short when Tershawn Wharton freed the ball from Kelley's grasp on Kelley's plunge on third-and-goal, as the ball was recovered by Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann. The Chiefs gave the ball right back to the Chargers, however, when Mahomes' pass was snared out of the air by Uchenna Nwosu. Ekeler made it a 21-13 ballgame on the next play on a 2-yard run. 

Fueled by a 69-yard completion from Mahomes to Kelce, the Chiefs tied the score on Mahomes' 1-yard pass to Tyreek Hill and Mahomes' completion to Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the two-point conversion. But the Chargers quickly countered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Herbert's touchdown pass to Keenan Allen. The Chiefs' offense responded yet again when Mahomes -- a play after picking up 32 yards with his feet -- hit Kelce for the game-tying score. Neither team could score on their final possessions of regulation, thus sending the game into overtime. On the fifth play of overtime, Kelce caught Mahomes' pass before eluding several Chargers before finding the end zone. 

Here's a closer look at what was a wild night in Hollywood. 

Why the Chiefs won 

As NFL Films' narrator John Facenda once said, "Great teams aren't always great, they're just great when they have to be." That quote is applicable to the Chiefs' performance on Thursday night. While they were anything but great at times, the Chiefs stepped up on both sides of the ball when it mattered most. Kansas City jumped out to a double-digit lead, then responded when the Chargers seized momentum in the second quarter.

Kansas City's offense responded two each of the Chargers' fourth-quarter touchdowns with touchdowns of their own. And after winning the overtime coin flip, Mahomes, Kelce and the Chiefs' offense ended the issue while keeping Herbert and the Chargers' high-octane offense on the sideline. 

Why the Chargers lost 

It's simple. The Chargers did not convert on enough of their fourth-down conversion attempts. Los Angeles was just 2 of 5 on fourth down and left too many points out on the field. Los Angeles' inability to contain Mahomes (who threw for 410 yards) and Kelce was another key factor in the Chargers' defeat. 

Turning point 

The Chargers twice had the Chiefs on the ropes after taking a 28-21 lead late in the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-10 with 1:48 left, Mahomes hit Hill for a 20-yard gain. Two plays later, facing a second-and-9 from the Chargers' 39, Mahomes' 32-yard rumble set up his game-tying touchdown pass to Kelce with 1:16 left in regulation. 

Play of the game

Kelce capped off his big night with the game-winning score. On the play, Mahomes momentarily froze the Chargers' defense by locking in on Edwards-Helaire in the flat. But Mahomes then turned and fired a completion to Kelce, who turned upfield before outrunning six Chargers defenders to pay dirt. 

Quotable 

"That's going to be the mindset no matter who we play. I felt really comfortable with all of those decisions. ... That's the way we're going to play around here. When we have a quarterback like ours and we have an offense like ours, that's the way we're going to play because that's how you need to play against Kansas City, for sure. And that's how we're going to become the team that we're ultimately capable of being is by playing that way." -- Chargers coach Brandon Staley on his fourth-down gambles. 

"With the world on his shoulders, baby, he showed up. I'm saying to all the haters, [Mahomes] is the real deal, and he showed it again tonight. ... I heard some guys saying we weren't going to make the playoffs. [Mahomes] isn't the best quarterback in the league. It's a lot of love for everybody on this team for fighting through adversity tonight and getting the win." -- Kelce on his quarterback and his team after rallying back from a 3-4 start. 

What's next 

Los Angeles will travel to Houston to face the Texans, who are 2-11 entering their Week 15 matchup against the two-win Jaguars. Kansas City will host Pittsburgh, who is 6-6-1 heading into Sunday's home game against the 9-4 Titans. 

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Derwin James going out really hurt the Chargers. Kelce with the last two touchdowns to tie and win the game, and James usually spends a lot of time on him due to his size and versatility.

December 17, 2021, 4:40 AM
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What a game. Chiefs take a two-game lead in the AFC West.

December 17, 2021, 4:34 AM
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KELCE! That's a walk-off, folks.

December 17, 2021, 4:34 AM
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@Chiefs via Twitter
December 17, 2021, 4:33 AM
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Hill's leg seems just fine. Perhaps just a cramp earlier. Nice out cut to get a first down right there.

December 17, 2021, 4:33 AM
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No Tyreek, no problem. Kelce on the corner route and Mahomes just drops the ball into the zone.

December 17, 2021, 4:32 AM
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Tyreek Hill not on the field for the opening drive of overtime. Getting stretched out, appears to be a problem with his calf. 

December 17, 2021, 4:31 AM
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Tails never fails, folks.

December 17, 2021, 4:28 AM
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@Chiefs via Twitter
December 17, 2021, 4:27 AM
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@Chiefs via Twitter
December 17, 2021, 4:26 AM
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Barring something wild on a Hail Mary right here, it looks like we're going to have overtime with control of the AFC West on the line.

December 17, 2021, 4:25 AM
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Looked like Tyreek Hill was limping along the sideline at the tail end of that play. Wonder if KC called timeout to give him enough time to get back on the field.

December 17, 2021, 4:25 AM
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I've seen plays that look less like interference, get called interference, but it's also not like that definitely should have been called interference.

December 17, 2021, 4:23 AM
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That was a dangerous, but high-ceiling throw from Herbert. Basically just outside field-goal range if it gets there, but two guys had a chance to pick it.

December 17, 2021, 4:21 AM
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Mahomes made plays moving to his right, now Herbert doing it moving to his left.

December 17, 2021, 4:19 AM
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More freelancing outside the pocket to his right by Mahomes, and he finds Kelce to tie the game. Plenty of time left for Herbert, especially with the two timeouts.

December 17, 2021, 4:17 AM
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@Chiefs via Twitter
December 17, 2021, 4:16 AM
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That didn't even look like man coverage across the board yet there was nobody to account for Mahomes so he just takes off. 

December 17, 2021, 4:16 AM
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Mahomes just barely escaped to get outside that rush and Tyreek just freelanced his way across the field to get the first down. Great play by two great players.

December 17, 2021, 4:14 AM
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Looked like the Chiefs were setting up a screen but the LE got a hold of CEH and snuffed it out. 

December 17, 2021, 4:13 AM
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Alright, 1:56 for the Chiefs to go 60 yards to tie the game. They've got all three of their timeouts. 

December 17, 2021, 4:10 AM
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