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Chiefs edge Chargers to make 2-0 NFL start

WASHINGTON: Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes but it was fourth-quarter defensive heroics that sparked the Kansas City Chiefs over the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in an NFL contest. Mahomes completed 24 of 35 passes for 235 yards without an interception while Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran eight times for 74 yards in the victory, which pushed the Chiefs to 2-0 on the season. “It was not pretty but big ups to our defense. Young cats stepped up,” Mahomes said. “They played a great game against a great quarterback. “There are going to be games like this. Hopefully we keep finding ways to win them.”

Justin Hebert completed 33 of 48 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns for the Chargers but it was his interception that proved pivotal as LA fell to 1-1. Kansas City rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson intercepted a Herbert pass and returned the ball 99 yards for a touchdown to put the Chiefs ahead 24-17 with just over 10 minutes remaining. The Chiefs denied Los Angeles just when it seemed the Chargers were going to grab the lead and kept that momentum, forcing two punts before Matt Ammendola added a 31-yard field goal for Kansas City.

Herbert, who had x-rays after the game following a hard hit to the midsection, then drove the Chargers downfield for another touchdown, flipping a 7-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Palmer with 71 seconds remaining to pull LA within the final margin. But an onside kick attempt by the Chargers failed and Kansas City ran out the final seconds. “It’s a division rival so it’s huge,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said of the triumph. “We want to win the division to get into the playoffs. Other than that it’s 2-0. Off to a good start.”

Herbert threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams in the third quarter but Mahomes answered with a 41-yard touchdown throw to Justin Watson and Ammendola’s 19-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter lifted Kansas City level at 17-17. Mahomes threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon in the second quarter that lifted the Chiefs within 10-7 at halftime. Herbert flipped a 1-yard touchdown pass to Zander Horvath on the first play of the second quarter to give the Chargers a 10-0 edge after Dustin Hopkins kicked a 31-yard field goal for Los Angeles in the first quarter.

Brady in regular-season

Tom Brady is 25-5 in regular-season games against other NFL clubs since joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the seven-time Super Bowl champion is 0-4 against New Orleans. The 45-year-old quarterback leads the Bucs into New Orleans to face the Saints in one of only two Sunday contests between teams that won their openers last week, the other such matchup finding Miami at Baltimore.

Brady did manage a 30-20 playoff victory at New Orleans on the way to a Super Bowl crown with the Bucs in the 2020 campaign. But Brady has found the Saints powerful regular-season foes, New Orleans inflicting a 38-3 home defeat on Tampa Bay in 2020, the most lopsided losing margin of Brady’s career. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Brady said. “They make you earn everything. Every third down is important. Every kicking situation is important. Turnovers are important.

“It’s a lot of things that lead to winning and losing and obviously we haven’t done a good job of that in the regular season. We’re going to have to play a lot better if we expect to win.” Tampa Bay won 19-3 at Dallas last Sunday, but the Bucs settled for field goals on their first five drives. Finding the end zone when they get near the goal line will be a priority this week and that means it will be important for running back Leonard Fournette, who ran for 127 yards at Dallas, to have a big day.

“(Fournette) was great and the line was great and the receivers blocked well,” Brady said. “We’re going to need that all year, so it was a great way to start. “We’ve got to continue to build on it and this is a good team to do that against because you’ve got to stay really balanced against these guys. I don’t think you can turn it into a pass-a-thon. Stay balanced, be really efficient in what we’re doing up front and play physical.”

Brady knows he will need top games from his defensive and kicking teams as well. “They’re too good of a team to think that you can win one phase and win the game,” Brady said. “It’s a challenge because they’re well-coached, they’re put in good position to do well, they have a lot of good players, guys who have played together for a long time. “It’s just a tough, hard-nosed team. You’ve got to go play well. The last couple times we’ve played them we haven’t done a great job of that.”

Jackson ‘most dynamic’

At Baltimore, the host Ravens will hope for another big day from star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns and ran six times for 17 yards in a 24-9 victory at the New York Jets. “He’s the most dynamic athlete for sure, at that position,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “He has continued to develop his pass game skill set… it takes a collection of individuals to stop him.” Sunday’s other NFL games find the Jets at Cleveland, Washington at Detroit, Carolina at the New York Giants, New England at Pittsburgh, Indianapolis at Jacksonville, Atlanta at the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle at San Francisco, Cincinnati at Dallas, Houston at Denver, Arizona at Las Vegas and Chicago at Green Bay. On Monday, Buffalo entertains Tennessee and Philadelphia plays host to Minnesota. – AFP

 

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