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Week 17 Game Recap: Los Angeles Chargers 21, Kansas City Chiefs 31


What you need to know

Los Angeles Chargers

All of the components of 2019 Philip Rivers were on full display in this one. He fought right to the end, but also made a couple of poor passes and decisions that resulted in his team being in desperate position. But he compiled close to 300 yards and threw a pair of touchdowns to reward fantasy owners with a big game in what may have been his final performance as a Charger.

The running back tandem of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler struggled just a bit on the ground, but dominated in the passing game. The duo averaged just four yards per carry on their 23 rushing attempts, but went for 119 yards through the air on 15 receptions. After a rough start to the year for the twosome, the coaching staff appeared to find a formula that really worked in recent weeks.

Keenan Allen set a new franchise record for receptions, going over 100 once again and showing that he is very much the team's top threat in the passing game whenever they need a big play.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21 to improve their record to 12-4 on the season, setting up a run in the postseason that has them as the #2 seed and home field advantage against anyone but the Ravens. Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 25 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Mahomes also rushed seven times for 21 yards. Damien Williams rushed 12 times for 124 yards with two touchdowns, while also catching four passes for 30 yards. Tyreek Hill aught four passes for 61 yards, and Mecole Hardman caught one pass for 30 yards. Hardman did have a big impact on this game, returning a kickoff for a touchdown that changed the momentum of the game in favor of the Chiefs. DeMarcus Robinson caught one pass for 24 yards and a touchdown, and Sammy Watkins caught one pass for eight yards. Travis Kelce caught three passes for 24 yards.

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 46 - 281 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0
In what may be the final game of his Chargers career, Rivers ended much like many of his games have this season - with the veteran quarterback throwing essentially a game-ending interception. While he has mentioned a desire to continue playing beyond this season and claims to have a few seasons left, the lack of arm strength and questionable decision-making may suggest otherwise. His afternoon started off interestingly, as he was twisted to the ground on his first pass attempt of the day which resulted in a lot of jawing back and forth with the defender who dragged him down. He was later seen with a noticeable limp, although he didn't miss a snap. From a performance standpoint the afternoon began well, completing multiple passes down the field to both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. On a comeback route to Williams in particular, Rivers did a nice job of getting rid of the ball before the pressure got to him and also putting it where only Williams could catch it. The drive culminated with Rivers connecting with Keenan Allen for a sideline touchdown in the end zone. Allen broke open and Rivers put it in the perfect spot for Allen to get to it. Later in the half, Rivers heaved a deep ball down the seam to Williams but it was woefully underthrown into double coverage and nearly intercepted. On the last drive of the first half, Rivers was picking the Kansas City defense apart with multiple short passes to Allen and Austin Ekeler. And just as the Chargers appeared on the verge of scoring, Rivers hoisted one up to Williams in the end zone in lots of traffic, where it ended up getting picked off. It was a great play by the defender, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it was a foolish decision to throw it into such tight coverage like that. It was Rivers' seventh red zone turnover this season, the most in the NFL. The maddening inconsistencies continued from Rivers, as he fired a couple of absolutely perfect passes into the waiting arms of his receivers in the second half - first to Hunter Henry on a floater down the middle with four Chiefs in the area, and then to Keenan Allen in traffic to keep a drive alive in the middle of the fourth quarter. He culminated that drive with a touchdown to Henry on the slant, and the stat line was starting to look solid. But with a chance to drive downfield for a last-gasp drive, he threw a pass that got popped up in the air and nearly intercepted. On the ensuing pass, he threw a horrendous pass that was well short of its intended target that was in fact picked off, ending the Chargers' season and possibly Rivers' Charger career.

RB Melvin Gordon, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 46 - 1, Rec: 6 - 76 - 0 (7 targets)
Gordon struggled on the ground early on, as the line failed to create very much space up front and the Chargers focused more on the wide receivers in the passing game. In the second half, Gordon started creating space of his own. Back to back power runs following an interception by Patrick Mahomes, put the Chargers in the end zone. The first run was a strong carry where he dragged tacklers with him to the 5-yard line. And the following play was another powerful run where he took it up the left side, surging ahead while pushing three would-be tacklers backwards into the end zone. Gordon continued to move the pile on the ground with a fourth down conversion run deep in his own territory. And he had a tremendous run after the catch on a 3rd and 16 pass play, slithering between tacklers and finally plunging ahead for 14 yards down to the 6-yard line. Unfortunately, with the ensuing fourth down carry he ended up getting stuffed shy of the first down marker for one of his few unsuccessful runs of the day. Late in the game with the Chargers trailing big, Gordon was playin glike a man possessed. He picked up 15 yards on a 3rd and 9 screen pass, looking like he was shot from a cannon to convert the first down. He then picked up big yardage to get inside the 20-yard line on a floater screen pass. It was curious usage to feed Gordon so frequently late in the passing game, especially considering Austin Ekeler was so close to a 1,000-yard receiving yardage campaign.

RB Austin Ekeler, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 46 - 0, Rec: 9 - 43 - 0 (11 targets)
Ekeler entered the game 50 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard receiving campaign of his career. He was fed the football with a team high nine receptions, but he couldn't quite pick up the necessary yardage, falling just seven yards short. It didn't help that he lost seven yards on a screen pass that got blown up on his first reception of the game. But he continued picking up yardage in multiple ways across the field. The Chiefs seemed intent on making sure Ekeler didn't beat them, but in the process they allowed Melvin Gordon to roam free out of the backfield. Despite Ekeler being generally thought of as the better receiver (and closing in on a personal milestone), it was noteworthy that the Chargers opted to use Gordon so much out of the backfield in the passing game down the stretch. In terms of Ekeler's rushing attempts, he had a handful of attempts where he actually had room to roam. He found a big hole on a second half run up the right side, and ran untouched until he was already past the second level of the defense en route to a 23-yard gain.

RB Justin Jackson, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0
Jackson had just one offensive touch in the game, picking up 11 yards on a dumpoff as the last option from Rivers. He made a nice jump cut over the middle of the field to shake the defender, picking up the first down in the process. With Melvin Gordon's future status very much up in the air, Jackson could see a significant increase in his role in 2020 after an injury-marred 2019 campaign.

WR Keenan Allen, 72 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 82 - 1 (10 targets)
Allen did most of his damage early on, as the Chargers shifted the focus of the passing game to the running backs and tight ends after halftime. But in the early portions of the game, Allen was very busy. A few early slants and crossing routes over the middle quickly got him involved, and a tough touchdown catch along the end zone sideline gave him exactly six touchdowns for the third consecutive season. Allen went up high and managed to get both feet down inbounds despite the defender shoving him out of bounds. Late in the first half, a quick out to Allen got him over 100 receptions for the season. After a quiet third quarter, Allen came out in the fourth with a big reception over the middle to pick up 13 yards on a 3rd and 13 pass play. That one broke the Chargers team record for receptions in a single season. Despite some random disappearing acts at times, Allen once again turned in a very consistent campaign and his stats are always pretty much in line with expectations.

WR Mike Williams, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 38 - 0 (5 targets)
Williams only caught two passes in the game, but it was just enough for him to join fellow wideout Keenan Allen in eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark. With target data only available since 1992, it is presumed that Williams is the first wide receiver to gain 1,000 yards on fewer than 95 passing targets. It was a very efficient season for Williams, who did a lot of damage without seeing a huge volume of passes in his direction. His first catch of this game was an incredible leaping grab along the sideline with the defender all over him. Williams snagged the ball at its highest point, using his body to shield the defender. He brought in a pass for 22 more on the very next play, showing excellent timing with Rivers on the deep comeback. He may have gotten away with a bit of a shove on the defender on the play, but there was no call. Shortly thereafter, Williams was seen crouching on the sideline seemingly shaken up on the play. But he came back in two plays later. Williams was targeted on a jump ball in the end zone, but it was a poor pass by Philip Rivers that ended up getting intercepted.

TE Hunter Henry, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 42 - 1 (6 targets)
Henry was only targeted once in the first half, and it was on a play where he fell down coming out of his break. After a hugely successful return from a knee injury, Henry had several exceptionally quiet games to open December. He has simply seemed to disappear for entire stretches at a time, and this game was no exception. However, after his extremely quiet first half in this game, he came alive after halftime. He finally made his first catch with just over nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, leaping high in traffic to haul in a 19-yard floater on a huge 3rd and 9 pass play. He added several more catches in the second half, including a quick slant near the end zone from Rivers for the team's final score of the game. He managed to hang on and lunge towards the end zone while keeping his body off the ground to maintain possession and get the touchdown.


Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes, 50 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 25 - 174 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 7 - 21 - 0
Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 25 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown with one interception, and rushed seven times for 21 yards. Mahomes did not have a banner day, as the Chiefs struggled to move the ball through the air, but the most important thing was that Mahomes looked fully healthy. He scrambled out of the pocket with the same burst we are used to seeing, and although he didnít take any sacks, he did get hit hard on a couple of occasions. Mahomes touchdown pass came with the Chiefs facing a first and 10 from the Chargers 24 yard line that was set up by a 30 yard strike to Hardman on the play before. Mahomes took the snap out the shotgun and was given a clean pocket by his offensive lineman. Mahomes waited for Robinson to make his break to the inside on a deep post route. As soon as Robinson stuck his foot in the ground and broke to the inside, Mahomes fired a pass that was perfectly fit inside two Chargers defenders and out in front of Robinson. Robinson had to dive and extend to make a great catch on the ball, which was the Chiefs first touchdown of the day, paving the way for three more Chiefs second half touchdowns. Mahomes has not closed the year on a good note, as Mahomes has only one 300+ yard passing game in hist last six games after opening the season with five straight 300+ yard passing games. He will look to bounce back in the playoffs, with the Chiefs having 14 days to prepare for their next opponent.

RB Damien Williams, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 124 - 2, Rec: 4 - 30 - 0 (7 targets)
Damien Williams rushed 12 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns with four catches for 30 yards on seven targets. Williams broke the game open for the Chiefs on an 84 yard touchdown run in the third quarter that perhaps the most impressive run of the season. With the Chiefs facing a first and ten from their own 16 yard line, Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and handed off to Williams, who was running an off-tackle to the left side of the field. He was met by several Chargers defenders at the line, and he hit two of them straight on while spinning off the tackles. Williams then gathered himself and sprinted up the sideline, outrunning the entire Chargers secondary on his way to an 84 yard touchdown. The touchdown essentially put the game away and it showcased Williams ability to break the big play with his combination of strength, balance and vision as a runner. Williams second touchdown was nearly as impressive, and was set up by a 47 yard catch by Hill. With the Chiefs facing a first and goal from the Chargers seven yard line, Williams took the handoff from Mahomes and darted to the right side of the line where his offensive line had opened up a small hole for him. Williams got through the hole and then cut back, where he was met by two Chargers defenders, one from the back and another who put a hard hit on Williams at thigh level. Williams absorbed the hit, but didnít go down, keeping his balance with his hand on the ground before diving ahead and crossing the goal line. Williams played an incredible game and made his case for being the Chiefs bell-cow running back in the playoffs.

WR Tyreek Hill, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 61 - 0 (5 targets)
Tyreek Hill caught four passes on five targets for 61 yards in the Chiefs win over the Chargers on Sunday. Hill was bottled up for most of the game with a majority of his total coming on a 47 yard gain that set up Williams second touchdown. On that play, the Chiefs were facing a third and seven from their own 26 yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and was given a clean pocket from his offensive line. Hill was lined up in the right slot and ran a go-route straight up the field, outrunning the Chargers secondary. Mahomes put a nice ball on Hill, but had it been further out in front of him it would have gone for an easy touchdown. Instead, Hill had to turn back and make the catch over his shoulder for the 47 yard gain. After having back to back 100+ yard games, Hill has not had one since week 10, and has scored only once in his past six games.

WR Sammy Watkins, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets)
Sammy Watkins caught one pass for eight yards on only two targets in the Chiefs win over the Chargers on Sunday. Watkins has not had a 100+ yard game since his explosion in week one and has fallen out in favor of Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman.

WR Demarcus Robinson, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 24 - 1 (2 targets)
DeMarcus Robinson caught one pass for 24 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs win over the Chargers in week 17. Robinson was not involved in the passing game much as the Chiefs were unable to move the ball through the air. On that play, the Chiefs were facing a first and ten from the Chargers 24 yard line. Mahomes took the snap out the shotgun and was given a clean pocket by his offensive lineman. Mahomes waited for Robinson to make his break to the inside on a deep post route. As soon as Robinson stuck his foot in the ground and broke to the inside, Mahomes fired a pass that was perfectly fit inside two Chargers defenders and out in front of Robinson. Robinson had to dive and extend to make a great catch on the ball. It was good to see Robinson come up big when it mattered most, as it was a tough catch to make but one that is expected of him at this point.

WR Mecole Hardman, 17 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 30 - 0 (1 targets)
Mecole Hardman caught one pass for 30 yards on one target in the Chiefs win over the Chargers on Sunday. Despite his size, Hardman made an excellent catch on the ball as Mahomes fired a pass to him crossing over the middle and as soon as he caught the ball, he was met by a Chargers defender from the back. Hardman got crushed on the play, but he held onto the ball and it was a pivotal play that set up Robinsonís touchdown catch on the next play. This was not Hardmanís most important play of the day though, as that came on a kickoff return where he raced 104 yards for a touchdown. Hardman is a big play waiting to happen and has played a rather big part in the Chiefs offense this year despite not seeing a large amount of touches.

TE Travis Kelce, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (5 targets)
Travis Kelce caught three passes for 24 yards on five targets in the Chiefs win over the Chargers on Sunday. Kelce came out of the gates fast, gaining 17 yards on two catches on the Chiefs opening drive, but was held in check after that. It was disappointing given that Kelce had one of his best games of the season against the Chargers in week 11. Kelce fell off from his monster 2018 season but still managed to catch 97 passes for 1229 yards and five touchdowns and was as consistent as any tight end in the game. Look for Kelce to have a big game when the Chiefs take on their next opponent in two weeks.