Chiefs vs. Chargers score, takeaways: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chiefs defense too much for L.A.

Chiefs vs. Chargers score, takeaways: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chiefs defense too much for L.A.

Every time Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert squares off against quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, plenty of points are guaranteed, and Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium was no different, at least in the first half. The final result was also similar as the Chiefs triumphed 31-17.

Mahomes helped the Chiefs improve to 6-1, and his head-to-head tally against Herbert to 5-1. He totaled 424 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception on 32 of 42 passing, giving the reigning MVP his fifth career game with over 400 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. That ties with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees for the most such games in league history, while only Hall of Famers Peyton Manning (eight) and Dan Marino (seven) have more such games in their career.

Herbert couldn’t quite go toe to toe with Mahomes, throwing for 259 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Chiefs defense continued their run of holding opponents to 21 or fewer points in the victory, something they have done in all seven games in 2023.

Here are the key takeaways from the battle between two of the NFL’s top quarterbacks:

Why the Chiefs won

Patrick Mahomes simply couldn’t be stopped in the first half. Throwing for 321 and three touchdowns is typically the output for a strong quarterback for an entire games. Mahomes did that in two quarters. His mind meld with All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce has never looked stronger as the two connected for nine catches, 143 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. The Kansas City defense also did its part, sacking Justin Herbert five times and forcing two interceptions. A complete team win for the defending Super Bowl champions.

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Why the Chargers lost

They couldn’t make the big plays when they needed them. Sure, allowing 424 yards and four touchdowns to Mahomes doesn’t help matters, but the Chargers had chances to force overtime. Their offense simply couldn’t execute in the second half with Herbert throwing two picks, one tipped 8 yards away from scoring, and needing to punt three times. Los Angeles clearly misses Mike Williams, that big body red zone target type of receiver. Rookie first-round pick receiver Quentin Johnston had a career-high 20 receiving yards on one catch. They need more from him to truly take their offense to another level.

Turning point

Hardman’s 50-yard punt return. The Los Angeles defense had completely stifled the Chiefs offense in the second half until his 50-yard punt return allowed them to start a drive on the opposing 35. This play led to what became the game-sealing touchdown by Pacheco.

Play of the game

Mahomes’ first touchdown of the day, a 46-yard catch-and run to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, put everything on display that makes him the league’s best quarterback. He sized up the pass rush, had the ability to escape the pocket and then make a perfect pass on the run that allowed his teammates to continue his stride all the way into the end zone.

What’s next

The Chiefs (6-1) will hit the road in Week 8 to face another AFC West rival in the Denver Broncos, a team they defeated 19-8 on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 6. The Broncos earned a narrow 19-17 home win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 7.

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The Chargers (2-4) will return home to SoFi Stadium to host the Chicago Bears on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 8. Chicago won 30-12 Sunday against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders with both teams playing without their usual starting quarterbacks.