Chiefs vs. Chargers: 10 Observations

Here are some things that stood out during Sunday’s game in San Diego

It was the perfect day for the Kansas City Chiefs.

They defeated the San Diego Chargers by a score of 37-27, and the Denver Broncos took care of the Oakland Raiders, which not only means the Chiefs will get a first-round bye and host a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in two weeks as the conference's No. 2 seed—it also means they won the AFC West division for the first time since 2010.

It's only fitting that the team that went undefeated within the division—won the division.

It was the Chiefs' 11th straight win over an AFC West opponent and their sixth straight victory over the Chargers.

Here are 10 observations from Sunday's game:

  1. Tyreek Hill's 95-yard touchdown broke it open

Rookie fifth-round pick Tyreek Hill caught the ball at the Chiefs own 5-yard line, made a few quick moves in a short area and then turned on the jets—racing 95 yards down the right sideline for a punt return touchdown that gave the Chiefs a 34-17 lead late in the third quarter.

Hill simply makes fast people look slow, and he even had to break an accidental tackle attempt from a teammate at the tail end of the return.

It was Hill's 12th touchdown of the season and that ties him with Chiefs great Abner Haynes for the most in franchise history for a rookie. Haynes had 12 in 1960.

  1. Charcandrick West stepped in for Spencer Ware on Sunday, and played well

After being a limited participant at practice all week, running back Spencer Ware was declared inactive for Sunday's game by Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

In Ware's place, Charcandrick West stepped in and played well for the Chiefs, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering he did the same thing last year in place of Jamaal Charles.

West finished the game with 16 carries for 58 yards on the ground and added five receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

  1. Alex Smith stepped up for the Chiefs on Sunday

Smith finished the game 21 of 28 for 264 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, adding six rushes for 21 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well.

In a division-clinching game, Smith had the game the Chiefs needed from him.

On the Chiefs' first offensive possession, Smith found West open in the flat on third-and-6 for a key gain of 28 yards.

Just a couple of plays later, Smith found receiver Jeremy Maclin on a beautiful back shoulder throw that resulted in a phenomenal catch by Maclin, who contorted his body over the defender that had pretty good coverage.

The Maclin reception gave the Chiefs first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, but they'd settle for a 35-yard field goal from Cairo Santos that tied the game, 3-3, early in the first quarter.

On just their second offensive drive of the game because the Chargers offense held the ball for more than 10 minutes in the first quarter, the Chiefs offense went down the field to tie the game on a Smith 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.

The touchdown was set up by a 42-yard pickup from Albert Wilson, who took the quick strike from Smith and raced down the field for a huge play for the Chiefs offense.

It was just a few plays later that Smith found the end zone—resulting in his fifth touchdown rushing of the season, which ties him with Steve Bono for most in a season in franchise history.

  1. Marcus Peters gets his sixth interception of the season
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For a second-year player, it appeared that the NFL's reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, cornerback Marcus Peters, had already started getting some veteran treatment, as he wasn't getting targeted nearly as often as last year, when he tied for the league lead with 10 interceptions.

He had a knack for making teams pay that tried coming in his direction, and Peters raced out to a quick start to this season with five interceptions in the first five games, but he hadn't had one since the team's 26-10 win over the Oakland Raiders back in Week 6.

That changed on Sunday, when early in the second quarter, Rivers attempted a third-and-long pass in Peters' direction and he hopped the route, picked it off and raced 16 yards the other way with it.

It was the 14th interception of Peters' career, and it led to a Chiefs touchdown.

  1. Key holding call gives Chiefs second touchdown opportunity

Facing a third-and-long following Peters' interception and within field goal range, the Chargers were flagged for holding after a Smith pass fell incomplete.

Rather than a field goal attempt, the Chiefs were given new life with a first down after the penalty at the Chargers 17-yard line.

A few plays later, Smith found West in the flat open for the touchdown, which led to the Chiefs leading, 17-10, with 6:09 left in the first half.

  1. Daniel Sorensen makes phenomenal interception in end zone
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When the phrase "covering a lot of space" is used in regards to defensive backs, particularly safeties, the play that Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen made late in the first half should be used as the example.

Sorensen seemingly came out of nowhere to defend the pass from Rivers and ultimately go up and over the receiver in the corner of the end zone, while still making sure to get his knee down in bounds for a huge interception for the Chiefs defense, which was defending its end zone against a potential game-tying touchdown.

The Chiefs were leading at the time, 17-10.

Sorensen now has three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles this season, including a return touchdown on one of the interceptions as well.

  1. Chiefs score 10 points off two Philip Rivers interceptions

The Chiefs scored 10 points off two first-half interceptions by Philip Rivers, who came into Sunday's game leading the NFL with 19 interceptions on the season.

The Chiefs led the NFL coming into Sunday's game with 31 takeaways this season.

Peters got things started with his pick and 16-yard return, which set up Smith's touchdown run.

A bit later, Sorensen snagged the ball out of the air in the end zone for his interception, and the Chiefs offense subsequently raced down the field for a field goal to close out the first half.

  1. Chris Conley makes some huge plays
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The field goal at the end of the first half was made a bit easier thanks to a phenomenal 17-yard catch by second-year receiver Chris Conley, who showed great hands to make the extended catch along the sideline with a defender all over him.

It allowed Santos an easy chip shot from 25 yards to extend the Chiefs lead to 20-10.

It wasn't the only key catch from Conley, who also had a couple of huge receptions on the drive following Smith's interception that was returned for a score.

  1. Smith's pass deflected, intercepted and returned for a score
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With the Chiefs marching down the field and holding a 20-10 lead early in the second half, Smith attempted a pass to the flat, but it was deflected at the line of scrimmage by Melvin Ingram and went into the hands of safety Jahleel Addae, who returned it 90 yards for the touchdown.

It was a huge momentum swing in the game, as the Chiefs were looking at taking a potential 17-point lead. Instead, the Chiefs' lead was cut to 20-17.

It's the kind of moment and play that could break a lot of teams, but the Chiefs would respond on their next drive with the kind of resolve that's come to define this team. 

  1. Smith marches the offense down the field following the interception 
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On the ensuing drive following Addae's touchdown, Smith marched the offense down the field and into the end zone—finding West in the flat on a little play-action roll out, which looked pretty similar to the first touchdown from Smith to West.

Smith stepped up and went 5 of 7 for 48 yards on the drive, finding Conley on two key plays for 24 yards. 

This key drive went 12 plays for 60 yards and took more than six minutes off the clock.

Chiefs safety Eric Berry leaves early with heel injury

Midway through the third quarter, Eric Berry left the game with a heel injury and did not return. He was listed as "questionable" to return and remained standing on the sidelines with his helmet off.

Rookie linebacker Dadi Nicolas also left the game early with a knee injury and was ruled out of the game soon after that. Nicolas was taken off the field by a cart.

Photos from the Chiefs Week 17 matchup against the Chargers

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