The Los Angeles Chargers are playoff bound for the first time since 2013 after beating the Kansas City Chiefs, 29-28, in a thrilling Thursday Night showdown.
Offense: Mike Williams – Mike Williams is having a sophomore season for the ages and Thursday night, proved why the Chargers selected him seventh-overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Williams had three total touchdowns on the night, but what he did on the final drive of the game was truly special. He caught the final touchdown, and, the two-point conversion to win the game. He finished the night with seven receptions for 76 yards with two touchdowns. Additionally, he had one carry for a 19-yard score.
Defense: Melvin Ingram – The sack that Ingram split with Isaac Rochell on third down was a difference maker in the win. Facing a 3rd-and-13, Patrick Mahomes stepped back but Ingram and Rochell converged on the QB to sack him for a loss of two and forced a punt. The Chargers offense ended up scoring and getting the two-point conversion on the ensuing drive to win the game. Ingram had another sack earlier in the game on first down that eventually led to a KC punt. Along with the 1.5 sacks, he finished the game with three total tackles, one tackle for loss and two QB hits.
Unsung Hero: Travis Benjamin – When Keenan Allen went down in the game, the entire WR corps stepped up, and Benjamin was a huge part of that. Number 12 had a critical 26-yard fourth down reception that kept the offense’s final drive alive. He finished the game with two receptions for 57 yards and one carry for eight yards.
Stat of the Game:
Philip Rivers recorded his sixth 30-touchdown season, tying Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers for the fifth-most in league history.
Play of the Game:
You could put any one of Mike Williams’ scores here, but we’re going to go with his final TD to bring the game within one. With eight seconds left, on 1st-and-goal, Philip Rivers stepped back and threw right, aiming for Mike Williams in the end zone. Williams went up and snagged the ball for the one-yard score to bring the Bolts within one point of a tied game.
After a touchdown by Justin Jackson made it 28-21, KC, the Chiefs got the ball back with 3:49 left in the game. Initially, they faced a 3rd-and-8, but a false start penalty backed them up to 3rd-and-13. Patrick Mahomes stepped back, then tried to step up, but Melvin Ingram and Isaac Rochell converged on the QB to sack him for a two-yard loss. The sack forced KC to punt, giving the ball back to the Chargers offense with 2:37 remaining.
It Was Over When:
After Mike Williams’ final touchdown, the Bolts opted to go for two for the win. Philip Rivers lobbed a pass to the right of the end zone and found a wide-open Williams for the game-winning play.
“A lot of guys don’t understand how difficult it is to win a division in this league. I remember us having a stretch of us winning and then we had a stretch of not winning, so to be in a position with two games, three games left and we’re obviously sitting at 11 wins, that says a lot about our hard work and preparation as a team.” – TE Antonio Gates
“This season means a lot seeing the fight in this group, it’s a group who doesn’t quit. We had a lot of close games this year and we found ways to win. That’s the main thing. Last year, we weren’t winning those games and this year, we’re finding ways to win. You can see the fight in this group.” – WR Mike Williams
“I’ve never been to the playoffs. Seven years, never been to the playoffs, man. It’s a great feeling knowing that (we’re) just contributing and (it was a) hard-fought battle for our team and the receiver group. Mike Williams had a great day today so we’re all happy.” – WR Travis Benjamin
Odds and Ends
The Chargers outgained the Chiefs in total yardage 407-294, becoming the first team this season to hold the Chiefs to fewer than 300 yards of offense. They held advantages both through the air (288-234) and on the ground (119-60).
The Bolts improved to 11-3 for the fourth time in team history (and first since 2009), while also clinching the team’s 19th-ever playoff berth.
With 313 yards, Rivers posted his 62nd career 300-yard performance, tying Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre for the fifth-most in NFL history.
In the most significant offensive action of their careers, running backs Justin Jackson (58) and Detrez Newsome (34) registered single-game career highs in rushing yards.
TE Antonio Gates moved to No. 17 on the all-time receptions list, bringing his career total to 952 to pass Hall of Fame WR Andre Reed.
Adrian Phillips paced the defense with nine total tackles. Additionally, he had one QB hit.
Mike Pouncey and Travis Benjamin served as tonight’s honorary captains.
Inactives for the Chargers included Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Chris Landrum, Cole Toner, Sean Culkin, Dylan Cantrell and Brandon Mebane.
Browse through the top game action photos from Thursday Night Football's Week 15 showdown versus the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.