The Kansas City Chiefs fought back to earn a thrilling victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night courtesy of a go-ahead touchdown drive in the game's final minute. The win, which marked the Chiefs' eighth of the season, meant that Kansas City now owns a three-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over Los Angeles in the AFC West standings with seven games remaining in the season.
Here are some quick notes from the game.
1. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was at his best when it mattered most.
Mahomes posted another MVP performance on Sunday night, completing 20-of-34 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. It marked the 23rd game of Mahomes' brilliant career with 300+ passing yards and three or more touchdowns, which are the most in the NFL since 2018 and five more than second place. Additionally, Mahomes (with only 73 starts under his belt) owns the most such games through 75 career starts in league history, leading Dan Marino by four games.
The victory also moved Mahomes to a perfect 14-0 in road divisional games in his career. He has accounted for 34 total touchdowns, 4,105 passing yards and seven 300-yard games in those outings.
Mahomes now has 58 career victories to his name, matching Ken Stabler for the most victories through 75 career starts in league history. Again, because Mahomes has only tallied 73 career starts, he can take sole possession of that record with a victory in either of the Chiefs' next two games. Furthermore, Mahomes has also now won 25 consecutive games in the months of November and December.
The stats and accolades are truly ridiculous for Mahomes, but in the end, it was his performance on the Chiefs' final possession that makes him so special. He completed 3-of-4 passes for 48 yards and scrambled for an additional 22 yards when the Chiefs needed him most, and it led to a huge divisional victory.
2. Tight end Travis Kelce had an unbelievable game.
Kelce was simply a monster on Sunday night, hauling in six receptions for 115 yards and three touchdowns. He became one of three players to tally 115+ receiving yards and three or more scores in a game this season, joining Buffalo Bills' wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver A.J. Brown. The performance marked Kelce's 33rd career 100-yard game, moving him past Rob Gronkowski for the most by a tight end in NFL history. It was also a continuation of one of the best quarterback and tight end duos that the game has ever seen.
Kelce currently leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns (11) and ranks sixth in receiving yards (855).
3. Tailback Isiah Pacheco put together another solid performance.
Pacheco was impressive once again on Sunday, tallying a career-most 107 rushing yards on 15 carries. More than half of those attempts (8) gained at least five yards.
Additionally, over his last two games, the rookie tailback has 189 rushing yards on 31 attempts. That total is fifth among all players in that span and equals out to an average of 6.1 yards-per-rush.
4. Wide receiver Skyy Moore made the most of an extended opportunity on offense.
Moore was on the field for a season-high 42 percent of the Chiefs' offensive snaps on Sunday night, and he didn't waste them. He caught five passes for 63 yards – both career-bests – and made two grabs that moved the chains on third down. Moore also made a 13-yard reception on Kansas City's game-winning drive.
Moore's big game was important, too, as the Chiefs were missing several significant contributors in the passing game on Sunday. Fortunately, Moore and a handful of other players – including wide receiver Justin Watson and tight end Jody Fortson – stepped up in a big way. In fact, Watson (67 yards) and Fortson (51 yards) also set career-bests in terms of receiving yards.
5. The defense was responsible for some critical stops that kept the Chiefs in the game.
The late-game heroics by the offense will garner the most attention, but the defense also deserves significant praise for making Sunday's victory possible.
Keep in mind that the Chargers were in a prime position to amass a double-digit lead late in the second quarter. Los Angeles – already with a four-point advantage – had the ball at the Chiefs' 2-yard line in the closing seconds of the first half, but Kansas City held the Chargers to a field goal that kept the deficit within one score. The Chiefs then forced punts on each of the Chargers' first two possessions of the second half, providing Kansas City's offense with ample time to get back in the game.
The defense also forced two turnovers in the game, including an interception by linebacker Nick Bolton on the Chargers' final possession that sealed the victory for Kansas City.
6. Defensive lineman Chris Jones is on a tear right now.
Jones was right in the middle of that defensive effort on Sunday, recording seven pressures and two sacks. The veteran defensive lineman now has seven sacks since Week 6, which matches the most of any player in that span. Overall, Jones ranks fifth in the league with nine sacks and has already reached the season-total that he posted in 2021 with seven games left to play.
Additionally, Jones' 44 total pressures this season rank eighth in the NFL.
7. Defensive end Michael Danna tallied a pair of sacks, each of which took place in a major moment.
Danna recorded his first two sacks of the season on Sunday night, dropping Chargers' quarterback Justin Herbert on two key third-down attempts. He was one of six Chiefs' defenders to record at least one quarterback hit in the game, joining Chris Jones (4), linebacker Willie Gay (1), defensive end Frank Clark (1), linebacker Leo Chenal (1) and defensive end George Karlaftis (1).
It's also worth pointing out that Frank Clark, who returned to action on Sunday following a two-game suspension, recorded seven individual pressures in the game. As a whole, the Chiefs pressured Justin Herbert on 44.7% of his dropbacks.
8. Linebacker Nick Bolton hauled in an interception to seal the victory.
As mentioned earlier, Bolton picked a terrific time for his first career interception. The Chargers only needed a field goal to tie the game at 30 points apiece, after all, and had enough time – plus all three timeouts – to conceivably get into realistic range to do so. The Chiefs quickly shut down that possibility, however, as Chris Jones sacked Herbert on the Chargers' first play of the series before Bolton tallied his interception a snap later.
It was the first time this season that a defender racked up 10+ tackles, an interception and a forced fumble – which Bolton recorded midway through the fourth quarter – in a single game.
9. Kicker Harrison Butker was perfect on the night.
Butker connected on all three of his field goal attempts – including a 52-yarder – in addition to all three of his extra-point tries on Sunday night. In a game where every point mattered, Butker's perfect night played a big role in Kansas City's victory.
Since 2017, Butker's 23 successful kicks of 50+ yards are the fifth-most in the NFL.
10. The Chiefs continued their dominance over the AFC West.
Kansas City moved to 23-4 against AFC West opponents since 2018 on Sunday, which is easily the best mark for any team against their own division in that span. That stretch reaches far beyond the Patrick Mahomes era, too. In fact, since 2013 – when Head Coach Andy Reid took over in Kansas City – the Chiefs are a league-best 44-13 against AFC West foes.
The Chiefs took a big step toward a seventh-consecutive division title on Sunday with yet another victory over an AFC West opponent, but the job is far from finished. Kansas City will now look to keep things rolling and turn the page to a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams at GEHA Field this upcoming Sunday.