Ma­homes, Chiefs hold off Charg­ers in Mex­ico City

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

MEX­ICO CITY — Nearly ev­ery­thing about this Mon­day night game felt for­eign to Pa­trick Ma­homes and the Kansas City Chiefs, from the gasp-in­duc­ing al­ti­tude of rau­cous Azteca Sta­dium to the strug­gles of their pow­er­house of­fense.

Ma­homes loved the ex­pe­ri­ence, but didn’t love how his of­fense played. The Chiefs’ de­fense picked it up time and again, cul­mi­nat­ing in the fi­nal pick that sent them all back home as win­ners.

“We kept that con­fi­dence all game long,” Ma­homes said. “We knew that some­one was go­ing to make a play to win the game.”

Daniel Sorensen snared Philip Rivers’ fourth in­ter­cep­tion at the goal line with 18 sec­onds to play, and the Chiefs stayed on top of the AFC West with a 24-17 vic­tory over the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers.

Ma­homes passed for 182 yards and hit Travis Kelce for his only touch­down, while Lesean Mccoy and Dar­rel Williams rushed for touch­downs as the Chiefs (7-4) hung on to win the fourth reg­u­larsea­son NFL game played in Mex­ico de­spite be­ing held to 310 yards of of­fense. They also sur­vived a few prob­lems with Azteca’s grass field and a one-sided first half fa­vor­ing the Charg­ers (4-7), who racked up 312 yards with­out a touch­down.

Af­ter throw­ing his sec­ond in­ter­cep­tion of the sea­son in the first half, Ma­homes led two sharp scor­ing drives in the third quar­ter with help from Kelce, who caught seven passes for 92 yards. Ma­homes also led the Chiefs with 59 yards rush­ing while his de­fense — which had only six in­ter­cep­tions all sea­son com­ing into Mex­ico City — held Los An­ge­les to eight points in the sec­ond half.

But the win still wasn’t as­sured un­til Sorensen grabbed Rivers’ un­der­thrown pass to Austin Ekeler at the goal line to se­cure the Chiefs’ 10th win over Los An­ge­les in 11 meet­ings.

“I was real proud of our de­fense for the job that they did,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Four take­aways, so for the guys that in­ter­cepted the foot­ball and then helped cre­ate the turnovers, I’m proud of those guys.”

Rivers passed for 353 yards dur­ing his first four-in­ter­cep­tion game since Novem­ber 2016 for the Charg­ers, whose play­off hopes are nearly dead af­ter five losses in seven games. Keenan Allen caught his first TD pass since Week 3 in the third quar­ter, but the Charg­ers had three in­ept drives in the score­less fourth quar­ter.

On the Bolts’ last gasp, Mike Williams made a spec­tac­u­lar 50-yard catch with 44 sec­onds to play. Los An­ge­les reached the Kansas City 14 be­fore Rivers’ fi­nal mis­take.

“He went out and he gave it his all,” Charg­ers coach An­thony Lynn said of Rivers. “He made some mis­takes, and he un­der­stands that. But I thought he did some good things and put us in po­si­tions where we did move the ball down the field.”

Rivers, who turns 38 next month, has thrown seven in­ter­cep­tions in the Charg­ers’ last two games, giv­ing him 14 this sea­son — more than ev­ery quar­ter­back in the NFL ex­cept Jameis Win­ston.

“It’s a foot­ball game,” Rivers said. “If you could just pick and choose and never throw them ever, I would choose to throw zero. But it’s hurt­ing us right now. I just need to cut them out.”

One year af­ter the NFL called off a game at Azteca Sta­dium on short no­tice be­cause of poor field con­di­tions, these teams played an en­ter­tain­ing game in the 7,200-foot el­e­va­tion and on the Azteca grass, which yielded sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant div­ots from sharp stops or changes of di­rec­tion.

The Rams and Chiefs were sched­uled to play here last sea­son, but se­vere dam­age to the turf field com­pelled the NFL to re­lo­cate the game to Los An­ge­les on six days’ no­tice.

Azteca re­moved its hy­brid turf and in­stalled nat­u­ral grass this year, and the field had been un­touched since Club América’s last home soc­cer game Nov. 2. The grounds crew came onto the field at half­time and dur­ing time­outs in the sec­ond half to at­tend to the worst spots.

The NFL and the sta­dium still threw an im­pres­sive party for 76,252 of Mex­ico’s foot­bal­llov­ing fans, who packed the arena and mostly sup­ported the Charg­ers, the nom­i­nal home team.

Although the teams spent less than 48 hours in Mex­ico’s cap­i­tal city, the NFL has deep roots among fans around the coun­try. Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell met Mon­day with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent An­drés Manuel López Obrador while the league and the fed­eral govern­ment are con­sid­er­ing ex­tend­ing the Mex­ico game se­ries be­yond its cur­rent deal through 2021.

But the Charg­ers trailed 10-9 at half­time de­spite out­gain­ing Kansas City 312-109 and mak­ing five drives into Chiefs ter­ri­tory. Rivers threw two in­ter­cep­tions and Michael Bad­g­ley missed a 40-yard field goal at­tempt while mak­ing three oth­ers, wast­ing a de­fen­sive ef­fort that in­cluded Rayshawn Jenk­ins pick­ing off Ma­homes.

Tyreek Hill left the field with a right ham­string in­jury af­ter the Chiefs’ sec­ond of­fen­sive se­ries, although it didn’t ap­pear to be caused by the turf. The speed­ster watched the sec­ond half from the side­line.

Tyrann Mathieu’s 35-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn set up Mccoy’s 6-yard TD run for the game’s first touch­down in the sec­ond quar­ter. Af­ter Williams scored on the Chiefs’ open­ing drive of the sec­ond half, Ma­homes hit Kelce with a pic­ture-per­fect 23-yard TD throw on the next drive.

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