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Week 15 Game Recap: Los Angeles Chargers 29, Kansas City Chiefs 28


What you need to know

Los Angeles Chargers

Keenan Allen suffered a hip pointer early in the game. He returned for one play, only to leave immediately thereafter and did not return. He will be re-evaluated this week, but early indications are that the injury is not considered to be serious. Mike Williams took over number one receiver duties from Allen, and posted a career best stat line.

Philip Rivers remained in the MVP discussion with over 300 yards passing, two more touchdowns, and a fourth quarter comeback complete with the game-winning two point conversion with just seconds left on the clock. With both Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen injured, Rivers showed that he is very fantasy relevant even without his best weapons available.

With both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler injured and out for the game, it fell to Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome to carry the rushing load. Jackson out-touched Newsome 19-8, but more importantly the duo combined for 138 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on the ground. They Kansas City defense has been soft most of the season, but the duo (and the Los Angeles offensive line) showed that they can be a force regardless of opponent. And the Chargers once again demosntrated that they are in the class of the other elite NFL offenses as a fantasy gold mine, as it's almost "plug and play" at this point with all of their skill guys.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 29-28 in a Thursday Night Football slugfest with huge playoff implications. Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 34 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing twice for three yards. Running back Damien Williams rushed 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns and caught six passes for 74 yards. Tyreek Hill caught four passes for 46 yards, while Chris Conley caught two passes for 19 yards. Tight end Travis Kelce caught seven passes for 61 yards.

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 38 - 313 - 2 TD / 2 INT
One week after failing to throw at least two touchdowns for the first time this season, Rivers got right back on track against the Chiefs suspect defense. And he did it all without his number one target, Keenan Allen, who was injured early on and didn't even catch a pass. Rivers' day started off as bad as could be, with an interception on his first pass of the game. He threw a floater down the seam to Tyrell Williams, who had a couple of steps on his defender. But the ball was thrown behind Williams, which was unfortunate since it could have been a 75-yard score if it had been thrown in stride. The defender had a better read on the ball than Williams did, and it resulted in the first interception thrown by Rivers in 103 pass attempts. He was pressured and hurried multiple times the rest of the half, and continuously sacked despite Kansas City featuring one of the league's worst-ranked defenses coming in. At times, Rivers appeared to hold the ball for far too long and seemed a little gun shy when he did see the pressure coming by just tucking and holding the ball instead of getting rid of it. As the half went on, however, he started to get into a little better rhythm and stood tall against the pressure. He was hit on one play just as he released the ball. He was looking to go deep, but the hit caused it to come out short. Fortunately, Antonio Gates came back to the ball for a short gain. He then connected with Mike Williams for a big gain, but again that one only went for 37 instead of a long touchdown because it was badly underthrown. He was nearly picked again on a pass attempt in the end zone to Gates. The officials called a questionable holding penalty which would have bailed him out from a turnover, but it just showed how off he was early on. Rivers then appeared to connect with Allen in the end zone for a touchdown, but replays showed that Allen made the remarkable catch while his shoulder was touching the sideline, and so that too was incomplete. Finally, Rivers found Mike Williams on a jump ball in the end zone, with Williams skying high for the score. After seemingly calming down and engineering a scoring drive, the Chargers appeared primed to tie the game just before halftime. But Rivers made an horrific decision, floating one up off of his back foot to the corner of the end zone to Tyrell Williams. Instead, the pass was picked off, effectively ending the half. Rivers got lucky to open the second half when a deep ball to Travis Benjamin was also nearly intercepted, but the defender allowed it to bounce off his hands and Benjamin followed up with a hit to make sure it would be incomplete. But it started to appear as if the absence of Allen plus some time-consuming drives by the Chiefs, were going to doom Rivers to fantasy afterthought. Just when it all appeared lost, however, the Chargers got hot. They cut it to a 1-score game late in the fourth quarter with a rushing score (after Rivers should have had a touchdown pass to Tyrell Williams that was just dropped outright, bailed out by a holding penalty) and then Rivers engineered one of his most impressive drives of the season. He finally got some time, and picked up chunks of yardage at a time. He made a perfect pass to Benjamin down the seam perfectly in stride for 31 yards and putting the ball deep in Kansas City territory. And then he made a simply unbelievable pass to Benjamin down the seam again, dropping it just ahead of the defender and right on his receiver's hands to convert a fourth and 8 pass to save the game. Rivers did underthrow Justin Jackson for what should have been the game-tying score, then nearly cost his team when he rolled out to his left and was taken down inbounds with the clock running. But after another questionable penalty in the end zone set the Chargers up with a new set of downs, Rivers found Mike Williams along the end zone sideline. The ball was juggled just a bit, but replays confirmed he had maintained possession long enough for it to count. Then, rather than kick the extra point and go to overtime, head coach Anthony Lynn opted for a game-winning two point conversion. Rivers floated one to a completely wide open Mike Williams for the conversion and the victory, capping a wild fourth quarter comeback.

RB Justin Jackson, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 58 - 1, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (4 targets)
Starter Melvin Gordon was still out with his knee injury, and primary backup Austin Ekeler was injured at the end of last week's game. With those two on the shelf, it was on Jackson to carry the primary rushing load. He showed some nice inside moves and had some solid gains in the first half, did a good job of reading his blocks, and didn't look overmatched at all in his most extensive NFL action. Just before halftime, he was targeted on a screen pass to the right side and appeared to have a caravan of blockers that may have led a potential path to the end zone. But he stumbled as he turned up the field, so the play resulted in just a 7-yard gain. He made up for that missed opportunity with a 3-yard score late in the second half to get the Chargers within a score. He found a crease in the defense, made a quick shake at the line, and burst into the end zone with a lunge at the end to cap the scoring drive. He had several similar runs in the second half, fighting through tacklers and converted a short third down run with a flip over the top of the defense. He got a heavy workload for much of the second half, and demonstrated an ability to carry the running game with 19 total touches from scrimmage. Jackson also displayed some very nice hands on a shoestring grab from Rivers late in the game (he was in the game on the eventual game-winning touchdown drive).

RB Detrez Newsome, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (2 targets)
With both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler out for the game, Newsome got by far his most extensive work of the 2018 season, although he was out-touched by starter Justin Jackson by a tally of 19-8. Newsome came in for the first time early in the second quarter split out wide to the left. But the majority of his work was done out of the backfield. He picked up 16 yards on a run up the left side, finding a nice hole and bursting through it to the secondary. He picked up another first down on a swing pass in the flat. In the second half, Newsome had a strong inside first down run after starter Justin Jackson had gotten a lot of work and needed a breather. And on a couple of later plays, he got himself wide open in the flat (nobody was even within ten yards of him, as he picked up 11 on the play). Newsome showed a little bit of inside strength for most of the game, pushing the pile several times. But with Gordon expected back next week, it's unlikely Newsome will have much of a role in the offense going forward without another injury.

WR Mike Williams, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 19 - 1, Rec: 7 - 76 - 2 (9 targets)
With Keenan Allen exiting the game early due to an injured hip, it fell to the shoulders of Williams to pick up the slack. And from all indications, he was more than ready for the challenge. After hauling in a deep ball down the left sideline (that could have gone for a score if it hadn't been underthrown), Williams appeared primed for a big day. Two plays after Allen was hurt, Williams went high in the end zone to scare a touchdown reception. He had a couple other key receptions in the first half, one of which was a back shoulder pass to convert a huge third down and 12. He was targeted in the end zone on the next pass, but Rivers was hit as he threw and the ball sailed way too high and out of the back of the end zone. In the second half, Williams took over. He took a toss on a reverse, found a slot between defenders to dart through, then took off for the end zone like a bullet. He got to top speed very quickly, showing a very strong burst to shoot through the defense and get into the end zone. A nice head fake at the goal line was all it took to get over the line. Late in the game with the Chargers driving for what was supposed to be the game-tying score, Williams drew a questionable pass interference penalty in the end zone. It looked like the officials called the defender for dragging Williams' arm down, even though it seemed like he wasn't even trying to use that arm to catch the ball and the pass may have been uncatchable anyway. Regardless, it set the Chargers up near the end zone and once again Rivers went right back to Williams. He snagged a score along the sideline to make it a 28-27 game. Officials went to replay to confirm the score since the ball kind of appeared to move in Williams' hands, but it was determined that the catch was clean. After review, the Chargers opted to go for a game-winning two point conversion attempt. Rivers lofted a pass to a wide open Williams for the conversion and the win. If Keenan Allen is forced to miss any time going forward, Philip Rivers' decisions in this game emphatically suggest that he is willing to trust Williams in the absolute biggest of situations at any time.

WR Tyrell Williams, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 71 - 0 (12 targets)
Williams had a solid afternoon, and had a bit heavier workload than usual with Keenan Allen injured early on and not returning. But Wiliams' afternoon was more noteworthy for what could have been. He was targeted on the first play of the game from scrimmage on a deep ball down the seam. It could have gone for a 75-yard touchdown if it had been thrown in stride, but the pass was underthrown and behind him. By the time Williams found it, the defender had better position on it than Williams did and easily picked it off. Later in the game, he had a short gain on a comeback route that was overturned by replay review. He was then targeted on a long pass in the end zone down the sideline. He stumbled at the end of the play, but probably had no shot to catch it anyway because he never turned his head around. And lastly, he got open in the end zone late on a long-developing play. He did draw a holding flag on the play, but he could have just scored outright if he hadn't dropped the ball. Williams did have a miscue late in the first half that DIDN'T cost him. He caught a short pass over the middle to convert a third down and fumbled the ball after the big hit. Fortunately, he was able to recover the ball himself because there were several defenders around the football as well.

WR Travis Benjamin, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0, Rec: 2 - 57 - 0 (3 targets)
Benjamin has had a very uneven couple of seasons for the Chargers, but he was actually one of the big keys to victory in this one. In the first half, his only action was an end-around for 8 yards, but he slipped at the end of it before he could pick up the first down. In the second half, however, he had two enormous receptions on the team's final scoring drive - perhaps THE two key receptions of the drive. He hauled in a 31-yard gain that was thrown perfectly in stride down the seam to get the Chargers into realistic scoring range. And on arguably the biggest non-scoring play of the game, he was the recipient of a huge 26-yard reception over the middle to convert a fourth down play and get the ball inside the 10-yard line. Benjamin hadn't even come out of his break and the defender was shielding him from the ball, but Rivers put the pass precisely where it needed to be and Benjamin did an excellent job of maintaining his focus to bring it in. Benjamin had also made a key play on an earlier deep ball down the sideline. Realizing he probably wasn't going to catch the ball, he instead pulled up and waited for the defender to get his hands on the ball before hitting him to knock it away. It may not have been caught anyway since it had already kind of bounced away, but Benjamin ensured there would be no deflection catch with his heads-up play.

WR Keenan Allen, 17 offensive snaps
Allen injured his hip on a corner route in the end zone that nearly went for a score. He was held on the play, juggled the ball a few times as he was lying on the ground, and actually managed to haul it in. But his shoulder was just over the sideline when he eventually gained control. He got up and walked off the field very gingerly with the hip injury. He was checked out in the tent on the sideline and returned to the game in the middle of the second quarter. He only returned for one play, however, before exiting again. He was back on the sideline in the second half, but was never a consideration to bring him back into the game.

TE Antonio Gates, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 54 - 0 (5 targets)
With Rivers' favorite target Keenan Allen out of the game early, someone on the offense needed to step in and perform as his security blanket. Gates was up to the task, turning in his second-best receiving totals of the season. His first grab went for 22 and converted the team's first down of the game when he shook his defender deep down the field and got open with a nice cutback. Gates showed his vintage step-back cut in the second half on a short reception over the middle. With the defender right next to him, Gates turned back the clock with a hard cut back, then took off up the field for nice yardage after the catch.

TE Virgil Green, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets)
Even with the offense missing Keenan Allen for much of the game, Green wasn't an important part of the passing game. Instead, it was Antonio Gates who picked up the passing game slack from the tight end spot.


Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 34 - 243 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0
Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 34 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing two times for three yards. Mahomes had an average game by his standards, despite the fact that he moved the ball well and was able to set up four different drives that resulted in touchdowns. The Chiefs had almost too much talent on offense to start the season, but the loss of Kareem Hunt and Sammie Watkins has allowed defenses to commit more men to stopping Kelce and Hill. The Chiefs have gotten great production out of Williams and Spencer Ware (Ware missed this game due to injury), but Hunt was a much more dynamic player who was capable of getting a block and then making things happen on his own from there. This was especially true in the passing game where the Chiefs could scheme Hunt open with misdirection, dump off a screen pass to him and then watch him break a 40+ yard play. With this in mind, it is no wonder that the Chiefs struggled to create big plays in this game against the Chargers. That is what kept the game in reach and allowed the Chargers to pull of an improbably win at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers never wavered in their game plan and they were methodical in their drives, wearing down the Chiefs defense and then striking where the defense was stretched thin. Mahomes engineered four scoring drives, but they were not the quick-strike touchdowns that we have grown accustomed to, nor were they long, energy zapping drives that would have wore down the Chargers defense and allowed the Chiefs to get a quick touchdown when needed. Mahomesí first touchdown pass of the day with the Chiefs facing a second and goal at the Chargers five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran out to his right on a designed roll out. Mahomes got five yards from the right sideline and slowed down to a near full stop while looking for a receiver. A Chargers defender recognized this and took off from the goal line and rushed Mahomes. As he got to Mahomes and started to tackle him, Mahomes kept his head up, still looking for a receiver, and managed to throw a sidearm pass to Demarcus Robinson in the back of the end zone as he was being tackled. It was another play that can be added to the pantheon of unbelievable throws that Mahomes has made this season. Mahomes second and final touchdown pass of this game came with the Chiefs facing a second and 10 from the Chargers 11 yard line.

RB Damien Williams, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 49 - 2, Rec: 6 - 74 - 0 (6 targets)
Damien Williams rushed 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching six passes for 74 yards. Williams fits into the Chiefs offense seamlessly as a shifty runner who hits the hole with explosiveness. He showed off his ability to make defenders miss and make plays happen in the open field on the Chiefs first drive of the game. Williams took the handoff from Mahomes in the shotgun and ran towards the left tackle, who was supposed to get his defender sealed from the inside. The defender had pushed back on the left guard too far though, which cut off Williams ability to get out wide. Williams stutter-stepped and cut back to the inside and came face to face with two Chargers defenders who were standing straight up. Williams then took off to the right sideline, juking another defender on his way before getting to the outside and up the right sideline for a really impressive 23 yard gain. Williams looks like he is shot out of a cannon when he touches the ball, as he depends on his short-area burst and quick feet to gain separation. Williams first touchdown run of the game came with the Chiefs facing a second and goal at the Charges two yard line. Mahomes set up in shotgun and motioned Williams from his left to his right side before the snap. He then took the snap and handed off to Williams for a trap to the left side of the offensive line. Williams kept his feet moving with short little chops as he hit the line and managed to push his way through for an easy two yard touchdown. Williams second touchdown run of the night came on a first and goal from the Chargers one yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of shotgun and handed off to Williams, who was set up to his right. Williams received the handoff and got his helmet and pads very low to the ground, almost sneaking his way in through the offensive line. While his two touchdowns were rather straight forward runs, it is clear that Williams understands how to make himself small and score in short space. Williams was also responsible for 57 of the Chiefs 80 yards on the Chiefs second scoring drive (Mahomes to Darrel Williams touchdown pass). While there is no doubt that Spencer Ware will have some role in the offense when he gets back, it is hard to imagine him stepping back into the high volume role he held previously, as Williams has showed out in his two week audition, totaling 153 yards and four touchdowns with ten receptions and an average of 5.4 yards per touch. He also has a penchant for breaking big plays, something the Chiefs desperately need out of their backfield.

WR Tyreek Hill, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - -5 - 0, Rec: 4 - 46 - 0 (7 targets)
Tyreek Hill caught four passes for 46 yards on seven targets in the Chiefs 29-28 loss to the Chargers on Thursday. Hill came into this game with several injuries that prevented him from practicing much of the week, injuries that had forced him out of the game three times against the Ravens in week 14. Hill looked healthy despite the heel and wrist injuries, so there were no health-related reasons as to why he did not have a bigger game in a crucial AFC West rivalry matchup. This was especially frustrating for fantasy owners because Hill dusted the Chargers in week 1 to the tune of seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns and it is not like Hill wasnít getting open. In fact, early in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs facing a first and ten from the Chargers 43 yard line, Hill ran a deep post route, starting from the right side of the formation. Mahomes put the ball on a dime and let Hill leave his defenders in the dust as he was running under the ball. The pass was more of a line-drive throw, so whether it was that, or the lights shining in Hillís eyes, or a bird flying directly into his head ala Elaine in Seinfeld, the ball came down and hit Hillís helmet, right between the eyes and he dropped what would have been an easy 43 yard touchdown. The pass was so perfect, and Hill was so wide open, that Robinson already had his hands in the air 5 yards from Hill, celebrating the touchdown. That touchdown would have put the game away for the Chiefs, but Hill got a pardon on his mistake, as there were penalties on the play that would have negated the play anyway. Hill did have an impressive 33 yard catch where he ran an elongated post pattern, coming all the way across the field from the left to the right. Mahomes once again threw a line drive on a rope that put the ball just a little out in front of Hill. Hill went to make the catch with his feet just a little off the ground, and as soon as he touched the ball, he was hit in the back of the legs and hit the ground hard on his back. He secured the catch though, and then got up and did a little shimmy for the crowd.

WR Chris Conley, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (3 targets)
Chris Conley caught two of three targets for 13 yards in the Chiefs loss to the Chargers on Thursday night. Conley is in his fourth year in the NFL, and while he has played well previously in limited opportunities, he is having trouble gaining separation against #2 cornerbacks. The Chiefs have been scheming ways to get Conley opportunities in the red zone, using his 6í3 frame to box out defenders in short space. It worked well to start, but they have since gotten away from that and started using Demarcus Robinson more in that role. If Conley cannot produce in the red zone, he is not going to make much of an impact, as Hill, Kelce and the running backs are all going to come before him with respect to target volume.

TE Travis Kelce, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 61 - 0 (9 targets)
Travis Kelce caught seven passes for 61 yards on nine targets in the Chiefs loss to the Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Kelce had a very quiet first half, catching three passes for 13 yards while the Chiefs were focused on getting the running game going. Mahomes targeted Kelce four times in the first half, with his only incompletion coming on a deep ball where it looked like Kelce might have a chance to pull down a long reception, but the Chargers did a good job of making sure that there were always defenders around him hitting Kelce as soon as he touched the ball or in some cases before he even had that chance. In the second half Kelce got back on track, catching four passes for 48 yards. Two of those catches were back to back 15 and 16 yard receptions in the fourth quarter that went a long way in setting up Damien Williams one yard touchdown run that put the Chiefs ahead 27-14. Kelceís day could have been a bit bigger but he had a 25 yard catch that was negated for an offensive holding penalty. Kelce is the most complete tight end in the game, and without a doubt the #1 fantasy tight end. With two games still to play, heís totaled 93 catches for 1220 yards and 10 touchdowns, which are all career highs for the fifth year superstar.