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Chiefs vs. Chargers: 10 Observations

Posted Sep 24, 2017

It was a good day for the Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 24-10 Sunday afternoon at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. The NFL’s longest active divisional winning streak continues

With the victory, the Chiefs extended their AFC West winning streak to a franchise-tying 12 games, which stretches back more than two years and almost 700 days.

The Chiefs also won 12-straight divisional games between 1994-96.

It also marked the seventh-straight win for the Chiefs over the Chargers, who moved to 0-3 on the year—with all three losses coming from a combined 19 points.

2. The Chiefs’ defense closed it out

While interceptions were the name of the game early for the Chiefs’ defense, the second half was about bucking-up when it mattered.

The Chiefs’ defense pitched a second-half shut out, which was needed as the Chiefs were held scoreless for most of the second half.

Led by linebacker Justin Houston, whose late third-down sack of Philip Rivers helped seal the deal with less than four minutes remaining, the defense did its part by putting the offense in position to grab some easy early points, and then shutting things down when it mattered late in the game.

Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers finished 20 of 40 for 257 yards and three interceptions.

3. Alex Smith had an efficient day, but Kareem Hunt was the offensive star, again

It was a day that could be defined as one that wouldn’t have gone in the Chiefs’ favor had they turned the ball over once, but they didn’t, and thus didn’t give the Chargers any opportunities for easy points.

Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith finished the game 16 of 21 for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

But it was rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who came into the game leading the league in rushing, that led the way as he finished with 17 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown. That’s good for an average of more than 10 yards per carry.

Hunt’s beautiful 69-yard gallop to the end zone late in the fourth quarter was what clinched the game for the Chiefs. It gave them a 24-10 lead with less than two minutes to go in the game.

Also, more importantly than the overall numbers and his last big run is the fact that two of the biggest third-down conversions for the Chiefs in the game, which both came in the fourth quarter, went to Hunt.

He took a third-and-2 carry for three yards, which extended a drive and took some time off the clock in the middle of the fourth quarter, and then helped close it out with a third-and-1 conversion up the middle.

And then he raced to the end zone for his third-straight game with a touchdown of at least 50 yards.

4. Chiefs Kingdom was well-represented at the StubHub Center

It’s hard to put a number or a percent on it, but there was an awful lot of red at the StubHub Center Sunday afternoon.

Chiefs fans always traveled well to play the Chargers in San Diego, but in a soccer stadium that holds just 27,000 people a couple of hours north of San Diego in Carson, California—the temporary home of the Chargers—there was no distinct home field advantage.

It’s important to note that the intimate atmosphere does have its charm, and it did get loud at times—particularly with a cannon shooting off every so often in the Southwest corner of the field, but when it came to the crowd, if anything, the red was more apparent in the stands.

Overall, it was a great turnout for Chiefs Kingdom, who made their presence felt before, during, and after the game.

And at one point in the first half—in one corner of the end zone that was all red, there was an audible “Peters” chant for Marcus Peters, who had been flagged for a penalty a few moments before the crowd starting voicing their support.

5. Terrance Mitchell’s first interception got things going early, the second, continued it

Last week, Chiefs’ cornerback Terrance Mitchell said, “Come on with it,” when it came to all the targets headed his direction so far this year.

And then, for just the second time in his career and his first with the Chiefs, Mitchell was able to come down with an interception early against the Chargers.

It came at the perfect time, too.

It was on the Chargers’ third offensive play of the day, and quarterback Philip Rivers was moved off his spot from pressure off the outside, and then he heaved one in the direction of Mitchell, who jumped out and make the contested catch for the interception deep down the left sideline.

But he wasn’t done yet.

Early in the second quarter, Mitchell was tested again, and the result was the same.

Mitchell leaped up on a 50-50 ball from Rivers deep down the right sideline and was able to make his second interception of the game early in the second quarter.

6. Smith finds Tyreek Hill for the 30-yard touchdown

It has to be considered a pretty good offensive play design when a middle linebacker like the Chargers’ Korey Toomer is asked to cover a receiver like Tyreek Hill down the field, but that’s what happened and the result is probably obvious.

Smith saw it and dropped a dime over the outside shoulder of Hill for the 30-yard touchdown.

It only took the Chiefs four plays after Mitchell’s first interception to go 43 yards and take an early 7-0 lead.

7. Marcus Peters did what Marcus Peters does

In Week 1, the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady targeted Peters—the All-Pro cornerback—just once, and then last week, Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz threw it at him seven times.

Coming into the game, the matchup between Peters and Chargers’ receiver Keenan Allen was one to watch, as was how much Peters would be targeted in general, and the first time Rivers threw in his direction, he made him pay.

Rivers attempted a deep out-route in Peters’ direction, and he stepped in front of it and took it 38 yards in the other way to set up another Chiefs’ touchdown.

It was the NFL-leading 15th interception for Peters since he came into the league in 2015.

8. Albert Wilson grabs the first touchdown reception of his season

Just four plays after Peters’ interception, the Chiefs faced a first-and-goal from the six-yard line.

In similar fashion to what we saw with tight end Travis Kelce last week against the Eagles, receiver Albert Wilson took the shovel pass up the middle for the six-yard score.

The blocking was fantastic and Wilson didn’t have much trouble getting into the end zone, and he didn’t have much trouble showing some fire after the play either. Wilson tossed the ball at the wall separating the fans from the field soon after crossing the end zone.

It was Wilson’s first score of the year and the fifth touchdown reception of his career.

Smith finished the first half 6 of 6 for 59 yards and two touchdowns.

9. Cairo Santos gets “roughing the kicker” penalty

Following Mitchell’s second interception, the Chiefs’ offense went 20 yards before kicker Cairo Santos attempted a 51-yard field goal.

The attempt was missed, but Santos was taken out and a 15-yard “roughing the kicker” penalty was called. It gave the Chiefs’ offense another chance to get closer and potentially score.

A few plays later, Santos was back on the field and hit from 34 yards.

The penalty and subsequent field goal helped the Chiefs take a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

10. Dee Ford and De’Anthony Thomas left the game early with injuries

Early in the second half, Chiefs’ linebacker Dee Ford left early with a hip injury and was questionable to return, and he did not come back into the game.

Ford had one tackle and two quarterback hits before he left the game.

Later in the game, Thomas left with a shoulder injury and was ruled out.

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