Kelce’s Record Performance Lifts Chiefs in OT Over Chargers

By Nhat Hoang
Nhat Hoang
Nhat Hoang
December 18, 2021 Updated: December 18, 2021

The Kansas City Chiefs were unstoppable lately, as Travis Kelce caught a career-high 191 yards on 10 receptions from Patrick Mahomes, in a wild-west OT shootout over the Los Angeles Chargers 34–28, Thursday night in Inglewood, California.

The Chiefs increased their AFC West Division lead with a 10–4 record as they won their eighth straight road game against the Chargers, who dropped to 8–6.

The Chargers had several missed opportunities as they failed on three fourth-down attempts, which could have been converted into field-goals; but resulted in a fumble and an interception.

Mahomes also missed on a fourth-and-goal dumping his pass way short to an open receiver in the end zone. But he ultimately overwhelmed the Chargers defense throwing for 410 yards, completing 31 of 47 attempts, for three touchdowns, and one interception.

His favorite target was the 32-year-old veteran Kelce, who had a magical night catching the final two touchdowns for the Chiefs; a game-tying 7-yarder with 1:16 remaining in the game, and a walk-off 34-yard catch and run that clinched the win.

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Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball for a touchdown during overtime against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Dec. 16, 2021. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a walk-off touchdown or anything like that, so to be in that moment, find him underneath and him making such a dynamic play where, I mean, he cut back, ran by people,” said Mahomes. “You think he’s old. He can’t run by people. But he’s still running by people. And he got in the end zone.”

“Everybody is talking about him losing a step, he looked fast to me,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “His endurance down the stretch for an elder statesman, he’s not over the hill, his acceleration is something.”

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Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball for a touchdown during overtime against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Dec. 16, 2021. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Kelce had five of his 10 catches for 142 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime; including a 69-yard reception that led to Tyreek Hill’s 1-yard touchdown allowing the Chiefs to tie the game at 21, after a 2-point conversion.

For the Chargers, quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 236 yards, completing 22 of 38, with two touchdowns and an interception. Justin Jackson led the gang of six rushers for 86 of the Chargers’ 192 yards on the ground.

Herbert was named the AFC player of the week for his past two games, scoring second-quarter touchdowns on a one-yard rush and completing a four-yard pass to Jalen Guyton; giving the Chargers a 14–10 halftime lead.

“The goal is always to score. We needed to put up points, and we got in the end zone, and that was our mission,” Herbert said. “We would have loved to have been able to run the clock down and not have any time, but this is the NFL, and you have to get in the end zone.”

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert scores a touchdown as Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Darius Harris defends during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, in Inglewood, Calif., on Dec. 16, 2021. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

The Chiefs took an early 10–0 lead after they stopped the Chargers on the opening drive on downs. Herbert threw an incomplete on a 4th & 5 in the end zone to Donald Parham Jr.; who was taken to the hospital as a result of a head injury on the play.

The Chiefs would march 95 yards in 11 plays, finishing with Michael Burton rushing for a 7-yard touchdown. They then converted Anthony Hitchens’ interception into a 30-yard field goal by Harrison Butker.

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Kansas City Chiefs fullback Michael Burton scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, in Inglewood, Calif., on Dec. 16, 2021. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

Early in the fourth quarter, the Chargers Joshua Kelley fumbled on a third and goal at the one-yard line following a 97-yard drive.

For the sixth straight game, Chargers Austin Ekeler scored a touchdown; with a two-yard run off left end to extend the lead to 21–13 early in the fourth quarter. The TD came after Uchenna Nwosu tipped Mahomes’ screen pass intended for Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the KC 4 yard line.

Tyreek Hill also had a big game for the Chiefs with 12 receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown.

In the end, the Chargers were unable to stop Kelce and Mahomes. “I really liked the way we managed the entire game tonight, said Chargers coach Brandon Staley. “It didn’t go down for us today, but we gave ourselves an opportunity. We just didn’t finish the game off defensively.”

The Chiefs play at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Dec. 26.

The Chargers are away at the Houston Texans on Dec. 26.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, center, fakes a pitch as fullback Gabe Nabers (40) runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, in Inglewood, Calif., on Dec. 16, 2021. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)
Nhat Hoang