With the game tied 24-24, the Chargers were in need of a big play late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Once again, Mike Williams delivered the clutch play for the Chargers as he pulled in the game winning touchdown to put the Chargers up, 30-24.
The Chargers shined on the defensive side of the ball, too, as that unit caused a total of four turnovers on the day. From forcing turnovers to a late fourth down conversion, this game was packed with action until the final seconds.
Here are three takeaways from Sunday's postgame press conference with head coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert, safety Derwin James and Williams.
A Four Turnover Day for the D
"I feel like you have to take the ball away from them in order to beat that team." – Derwin James.
When you look at the stat sheet you might think quarterback Justin Herbert's four touchdown passes or wide receiver Mike Williams' career-high 122 yards receiving would bring in the MVP of the game award, but arguably, the most impressive stat from Sunday's game was the Chargers defense forcing the Chiefs to turn the ball over four times.
It was the first Chargers defensive performance to do so since a Week 17 win against Denver in 2018.
Three turnovers came on each of the first three defensive series of the game making the Bolts defense the first unit to accomplish that feat in the last three seasons. Two turnovers were forced fumbles caused by cornerback Tevaughn Campbell and recovered by Michael Davis.
As James explained, when it comes to beating a team like the Chiefs, forcing turnovers is a must. But he talked about how it was a true team effort to force the Chiefs into mistakes.
"It's everybody," James said. "Our rushers, they didn't just fly up the field and let [Patrick] Mahomes just take off. They knew the gameplan, they came out and they kept him in the pocket as much as they could and I feel like overall it was team, not just the secondary. If Mahomes' is scrambling, then we can't get those turnovers and takeaways we got."
Along with Campbell, rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. had his second interception in as many weeks and second-year safety Alohi Gilman picked off Mahomes late in the fourth to end any hopes of a Chiefs' comeback.
Despite young guys making plays, James explained that a mantra of the Bolts defense is that a turnover doesn't have an age on it, and each player has a 'why not me?' mentality when it comes to getting the ball more.
James talked about how impressed he was with Samuel Jr.'s second career interception. The first quarter pick made Samuel the Chargers first corner in 35 years to record two interceptions before turning 22. James knew that the rookie was hungry for more interceptions after his first pick against Dallas.
"I was very impressed because I was coming from the other side and I just saw Asante just lay out for it," James said. "He's been talking about it all week because he had one last week and he wanted another one this week. He went out there and did it, I'm very proud of Asante and how he's playing, he's really a dog."
James explained the Bolts are not satisfied at 2-1 and will continue to keep getting better, yet, he explained how important this win was for this season.
"I feel like you have to win games like this on the road in this league in order to separate yourself," he said. "I feel like today was a good test…we came back, we didn't pout, and we came back stronger this week and you know we got the job done on the road. We're happy to be heading back to L.A. with the W."
Responding from 17 Unanswered
After getting out to a hot start in Kansas City in the first half, the Chargers found themselves up 14-3 going into halftime. But then, the Chiefs scored 14 in the third quarter to make it 17 unanswered and took the lead for the first time on the day.
What happened in the fourth quarter would eventually be the storyline of the game, as head coach Brandon Staley noted in his post-game press conference, as the Chargers stormed back and defeated the Chiefs on their own turf, 30-24.
The game-winning score once again came from a touchdown pass from Herbert to Williams, to seal the deal and with little time on the clock, the Chiefs weren't able to answer back. Staley talked about the mindset his team had and how critical it was to contain Kansas City after they scored 17 unanswered.
"At halftime we were feeling good, but this [Kansas City team] is not going down like that," Staley said. "They are going to make plays. They are going to make a run. When they make their run, we have to come together as a team and find our way. I felt like we did a good job. Defensively, we kept our composure. We were forcing them to drive the field. That was the silver lining in those three drives. They were not knock out punches. They were drives where we were executing, and they were making some plays."
Staley knew he wanted the ball to be in the hands of his quarterback when the game came down to the wire. Nothing proved that more than when the Chargers went for it on 4th-and-9, with the game tied 24-24. Justin Herbert talked about what it meant to execute late in the game when it mattered most and how the faith Staley had in the offense gave them a boost.
"It means everything to us," Herbert said. "You know we've worked so hard ever since this offseason and all the time that we've spent together to be put in this position for these exact moments. We've got the right guys out there and I know that coach Staley believes in us and coach Lombardi believes in us and for us to go out there on 4th-and-9 and to win the game, that's awesome for us."
Career Day for Mike Williams
You'd have to go back to the 2010 season to find another Chargers player to do what Mike Williams accomplished in Sunday's win over Kansas City. Williams became the first Bolts player since Chargers legend Antonio Gates during the 2010 season to record a touchdown reception in three consecutive games. On top of that, Williams had a career day with 122 receiving yard and two touchdowns, one of which was the game winner.
With four touchdowns in three games, Herbert talked about what Williams has done for this offense.
"Mike Williams changes our offense," Herbert said. "He's one of those guys we knew going into this year we needed to get the ball more, because when you spread the ball out with Keenan [Allen], Jared Cook, Mike Williams, it doesn't get much tougher than that."
Williams explained when he got the play for his first touchdown catch, a 20-yard score, he was actually supposed to run a slant. But Williams was able to beat his man from the jump and signal to Herbert that he was open down the field.
It's that chemistry between Nos. 10 and 81 that has been on display over the first three weeks and looks to get stronger as the season rolls on.
"I'm just out there making plays," Williams said. "I'm getting put in great positions to make plays and I'm just taking advantage of every opportunity that I get."
Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 3 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
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