RECAP: Chargers open 2018 season with 38-28 loss to Chiefs
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Tyreek Hill scored three touchdowns, Patrick Mahomes passed for his first four NFL scores and the Kansas City Chiefs opened the season with a 38-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Hill had a 91-yard punt return for a score and a 58-yard TD reception during the first quarter before adding a 1-yard reception for a score in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Hill also had 169 yards on seven receptions, which is the second-most yards by a Chiefs receiver in an opener, according to Pro Football Reference. Carlos Carson had 173 yards receiving against New Orleans in 1985.
Mahomes, who moved into the starting spot after Alex Smith was traded to Washington in the offseason, was 15 of 27 for 256 yards as the Chiefs extended their winning streak over the Chargers to nine.
“Tyreek really got us going with the punt return and Patrick did a nice job of running the offense,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. “There were a lot of great individual efforts on a hot day where we had to endure the elements.”
After the Chargers got the opening kickoff but went three-and-out, Hill took Drew Kaser‘s punt 91 yards for a touchdown just 1 minute, 57 seconds into the game. The third-year receiver fielded the punt near the right hash mark, but quickly found an opening up the left sideline.
It was Hill’s fourth punt return for a touchdown in 32 games and the Chiefs’ league-leading seventh since 2013.
“Once I caught it, I was like this is wide open,” Hill said. “The punt return really got me hyped and got the rest of the offense rolling. It’s fun being able to be out and making plays.”
After Caleb Sturgis‘ 45-yard field goal got the Chargers on the board, Mahomes threw his first touchdown pass in the NFL, connecting with Hill for 58 yards. Hill caught the pass at the Chargers 47 and eluded a diving tackle by Jahleel Addae as he found a seam up the left sideline.
Mahomes said it was originally supposed to be a run play, but he said one of the linebackers bit on a run fake which allowed him to find Hill.
“It helped that I hit it fast and Tyreek was able to miss the tackler,” Mahomes said. “I needed to settle down after that play, though, and really didn’t get any consistency back until late in the first half.”
Los Angeles would get within two at 14-12 with 7:47 remaining in the second quarter on Philip Rivers‘ 13-yard touchdown pass to Austin Ekeler. The Chargers were unable to tie as their 2-point attempt failed.
Kansas City would take control in the third quarter on a pair of TD passes by Mahomes passes to make it 31-12. He had a 1-yard shovel pass to De’Anthony Thomas and then had a 36-yard score to Anthony Sherman after Ron Parker intercepted a pass by Rivers at the Chiefs 14.
A 20-yard TD reception by Keenan Allen and 2-point conversion catch by Antonio Gates brought the Chargers within 11, but JJ Jones‘ fumble of a punt at the Chargers 2 and subsequent Hill touchdown made the deficit too much to overcome.
Rivers had a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, a 20-yarder to Allen and 4 yards to Tyrell Williams.
Rivers was 34 of 51 for 424 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Allen had eight receptions for 108 yards and Melvin Gordon nine for 102.
“A team like that, you can’t give them anything,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “You’ve got to take everything, and we didn’t do that. We gave them too much, and they outplayed us.”
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 9, 2018
Chiefs: LB Ben Niemann suffered a hamstring injury. Coach Andy Reid said he did not know the severity of the injury and said it was likely going to be week-to-week. S Eric Berry made the trip, but was inactive due to a heel injury.
Chargers: RT Joe Barksdale was carted off after injuring his right knee during the first quarter and did not return. Lynn said he did not know the severity of the injury. Sam Tevi took Barksdale’s place on the offensive line. Lynn also said DT Joey Bosa, who was inactive for the game, remains week-to-week with a foot injury.
Chiefs: Continue their road trip next Sunday at Pittsburgh. Kansas City has dropped three of its last four to the Steelers in the regular season.
Chargers: Travel to Buffalo next Sunday in the first of two straight road games. The Chargers have won three straight and five of the last six against Buffalo.