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Mahomes, Chiefs hold off Herbert's Chargers in AFC West showdown

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes totaled two touchdown passes in a win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/1b00bb0022b9858183c9ecaef0ce9cc1/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes totaled two touchdown passes in a win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson proved to be the difference in the Kansas City Chiefs' first matchup of 2022 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Watson intercepted Chargers star quarterback Justin Herbert about four minutes into the fourth quarter of the 27-24 triumph Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

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"I didn't even know what to do when I got into the end zone," Watson, a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, told reporters. "That's why you saw me just standing there.

"But it's a moment I'll never forget."

Watson's score gave the Chiefs a 24-17 lead. Chiefs kicker Matt Ammendola added a field goal on the next drive for a late 10-point edge.

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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 35 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Herbert completed 33 of 38 passes for 334 yards and three scores, in addition to his interception.

"That's a great defense," Mahomes said. "I thought we battled and found a way to get the win."

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Chargers kicker Dustin Hopkins made a 31-yard field goal nine minutes into the game for the first points of the night. The Chargers pushed their lead to 10-0 when Herbert threw a 1-yard touchdown toss to fullback Zander Horvath three scores into the second quarter.

The Chiefs responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive, which ended with a Mahomes touchdown pass to running back Jerick McKinnon. Mahomes evaded pass rushers and ran to his right on the play. He then passed across his body just before he reached the sideline, squeezing a sidearm throw between defenders and finding McKinnon in the end zone.

Neither team scored for the rest of the half. The Chargers opened the second half with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Wide receiver Mike Williams ended that possession with a one-handed, 15-yard touchdown reception.

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Mahomes threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Watson on the next drive, tying the game midway through the third.

Both offenses struggled on the next three drives. Ammendola made a 19-yard field goal to tie the score two seconds into the fourth.

The Chargers then marched to the Kansas City 3-yard line. Herbert took the snap on a 1st-and-goal play from the 3-yard line. He dropped back, looked right and threw a pass toward tight end Gerald Everett.

Jaylen Watson jumped the route and snagged the pass for an interception, prompting his long run to the other end zone.

Ammendola added his final field goal about seven minutes later. The Chargers then went on a 9-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Herbert, who was hit hard and injured on the drive, stayed in the game and finished the possession with a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Joshua Palmer.

The Chargers failed to recover on onside kick after that possession, which ended the game.

"I like the way our guys competed," Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. "When you get chances against that team, you gotta make sure you capitalize. We had some opportunities and we didn't finish them."

Herbert, who received an X-ray examine after the game, did not meet with the media due to his injury. Coach Brandon Staley said it was "probably the case" that Herbert sustained a rib injury.

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The Chiefs (2-0) will take on the Indianapolis Colts (0-0-1) at 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 25 in Indianapolis. The Chargers (1-1) will host the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at 4:05 p.m. Sept. 25 in Inglewood, Calif.

This week in the National Football League

Los Angeles Chargers' quarterback Justin Herbert passes under pressure during the first half of the game between the Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Calif., on September 11, 2022. The Chargers won 24-19. Photo by Mike Goulding/UPI | License Photo

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