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Chiefs rally past Chargers in early AFC West showdown

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Kansas City, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes, rookie Jaylen Watson returned a 99-yard interception for the fourth quarter lead and the Kansas City Chiefs held on to the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 on Thursday night.

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Mahomes finished with a pass from 235 yards and Jerick McKinnon and Justin Watson bagged the TD passes for the Chiefs (2-0) who trailed 10-0 in the first quarter and played catch-up for most of the game.

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Jaylen Watson finally gave the Chiefs the lead after the Chargers (1-1), in response to Matt Ammendola’s tying field goal, marched to the Kansas City 3. Justin Herbert looked intently at Gerald Everett as Watson, a seventh-round pick first start, stepped in front of the pass with 10:29 to go and ran almost untouched the other way to the end zone.

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Things got worse for the Chargers (1-1) two series later when Herbert was drilled by Mike Danna who delivered a pitch. He left the field holding onto his side, then returned a game later, then threw a flaw that forced the Chargers to punt.

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire promptly split the defense on a 52-yard run to set up a field goal for Kansas City.

Herbert, who finished with 334 yards and three touchdown passes, playfully tried to keep the Chargers alive. He threw a 36-yard dart down on the fourth to increase their subsequent possession, then found Joshua Palmer back of the end zone on the fourth goal to pull Los Angeles within 27-24 with just over a minute to go.

Kansas City recovered the onside kick and clocked out on a crucial AFC West win.

The much anticipated showdown between two of the league’s prolific young quarterbacks, each surrounded by leading playmakers, soon turned into a defensive slugfest.

The Chargers held the Chiefs to 13 yards in the first quarter, thanks to relentless pressure from Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack and Derwin James Jr. was just about everywhere, keeping a team that scored 44 points in Arizona last week off the scoreboard until Mahomes hurled a sidearm pass to McKinnon early in the second quarter.

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The Chargers did better offensively, even though coach Brandon Staley chose to play conservatively, pointing twice in fourth and 2 near midfield. Dustin Hopkins kicked an early field goal before Mike Williams, who dominated the smaller Chiefs defensive backs, put the Chargers in position for Zander Horvath to catch a short TD pass.

Staley eventually went for it in fourth place in the opening stage of the second half. And one game after Austin Ekeler picked it up, Williams grabbed Chiefs L’Jarius Sneed’s cornerback with one hand to give the Chargers a 17-7 lead.

The game seemed to get away from the Chiefs when Mahomes was intercepted by Asante Samuel Jr. on their next possession. But replays showed that Samuel was out of control and the call was overturned, and Mahomes took advantage of his second chance by throwing a 41-yard strike to Justin Watson for a touchdown.

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The Chiefs tied with 17 points in the first game of the fourth quarter when Ammendola, who was signed to replace the injured Harrison Butker earlier this week, chipped into fourth place on the goal line.

That secured Jaylen Watson’s pick-6 and the first lead Kansas City had all night.

RUSH HOUR

The game was the first in the 11-year $13 billion deal between the NFL and Amazon Prime to exclusively stream Thursday night games. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos stood on the sidelines next to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before kick-off.

Injuries

Chargers C Corey Linsley (knee) and RT Trey Pipkins III (ankle) took off in the third quarter. … Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman injured his ankle in the third quarter but returned to the game. Danna left in the fourth quarter with a calf injury.

NEXT ONE

The Chargers return home on September 25 to face Jacksonville. The Chiefs visit Indianapolis the same day.

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