Chargers-Chiefs takeaways: Defense nonetheless L.A.’s Achilles’ heel

The Chargers misplaced to Kansas Metropolis 30-27 within the closing seconds Sunday night time at SoFi Stadium, their second one-score, fourth-quarter defeat in prime time in as many weeks.

They fell to 5-5 and into ninth place (the highest seven advance to the playoffs) within the AFC. They’re a recreation behind New England, Cincinnati and the New York Jets.

The Chargers subsequent journey to Arizona to face a 4-6 Cardinals crew that performs San Francisco on Monday night time in Mexico Metropolis.

Some observations from the Chargers’ newest robust loss to the Chiefs:

THIRD AND TROUBLE: The Chargers rank twenty fifth within the NFL defensively on the third down, their opponents changing 43.8% of the time. Kansas Metropolis completed 5 for 10.

Even worse, the Chargers have struggled stopping third and lengthy all through the season. The Chiefs transformed on third and 17, third and eight and two third and sevens.

“There were a few times we really had that team pinned,” linebacker Drue Tranquill mentioned. “Against that team, you have to get off the field when you have them in those situations. We didn’t do that …

“We gotta do better [pass] rush and coverage working together. Guys gotta be tighter on their assignments, play their leverage. And you have to give [Kansas City’s] Pat [Mahomes] credit, one of the best in the league.”

Chargers coach Brandon Staley’s rebuilt protection continues to have a tough time sustaining efficiency.

The Chargers compelled consecutive three and outs within the second quarter and produced a turnover when linebacker Troy Reeder knocked the ball out of Jerick McKinnon’s grasp for a fourth-quarter fumble.

Chargers linebacker Troy Reeder forces the Chiefs’ Jerick McKinnon (1) to fumble within the fourth quarter.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Instances)

However they had been unable to stand up in probably the most essential moments, after they may have put the ball again in quarterback Justin Herbert’s fingers.

“We have to make more plays,” Staley mentioned. “It’s as simple as that on third down. We’re not covering well enough on third down. That’s all there is to it.”

NOT ENOUGH ON OTHER DOWNS EITHER: The Chargers surrendered a season-worst 485 whole yards, Mahomes changing into the primary opposing quarterback to prime 300 passing yards, ending with 329.

Kansas Metropolis had a 100-yard rusher in Isiah Pacheco and a 100-yard receiver in Travis Kelce.

The sport additionally marked Kelce’s first profession three-touchdown efficiency. He did have a career-best four-touchdown recreation in October towards Las Vegas.

“I don’t think it was good,” Tranquill mentioned of the protection’s exhibiting. “We didn’t do good in the run game. We didn’t do good in the pass game.”

PALMER CONTINUES COMING ON: For the second time in three video games, Joshua Palmer reached 106 receiving yards, his profession excessive.

When Mike Williams was misplaced within the first quarter after tweaking his already sore ankle, Palmer emerged as Herbert’s prime goal.

Keenan Allen was again for the Chargers after being restricted to 2 video games and 45 snaps due to a hamstring harm, however the plan was for Allen’s snap rely to be restricted, additional rising Palmer’s function.

“Great things, coming alive everywhere,” Allen mentioned of Palmer. “Short game, intermediate, deep. Full game for him.”

The Chargers' Joshua Palmer (5) catches a pass for a touchdown in front Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill.

The Chargers’ Joshua Palmer catches a move for a landing in entrance Chiefs security Juan Thornhill.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Instances)

A 3rd-round choose in 2021, Palmer additionally had the primary two-touchdown recreation of his profession. He already has topped his reception and yardage totals from his rookie season.

“He’s one of those guys that is able to win against man coverage,” Herbert mentioned. “He’s not playing like this is his second year. We trust him completely.”

NO FOURTH AND STALEY: The scenario was one which Staley has described prior to now by evaluating it to a inexperienced gentle, as in a full-go. However Sunday, with the Chargers going through fourth and one at their 34-yard line with about 5 minutes left within the third quarter, Staley opted to punt.

The Chargers had been main 20-16 on the time, and working again Austin Ekeler had simply been stopped for no acquire on third and one.

“I really felt like flipping the field position there was the right thing to do,” Staley mentioned. “The game was even, and I didn’t want to swing the momentum their way. We had been stopped on a couple short-yardage plays. I just felt like our defense was playing at a high enough level and wanted to give our defense a chance to compete.”

JK Scott delivered a 52-yard punt that the Chargers downed at Kansas Metropolis’s 14-yard line. Regardless of the sphere place, the Chiefs went on a 10-play, 86-yard landing drive to take a 23-20 lead, scoring on the primary play of the fourth quarter.

For the season, the Chargers have gone for it on fourth down 19 occasions, tied for fourth most within the NFL. Their success charge of 42.1% ranks twenty sixth.

STRAIGHT FACTS: Damage fill-in kicker Cameron Dicker made subject targets of 46 and 21 yards and all three of his further factors. The Chargers’ kickers have made 39 consecutive makes an attempt. Dustin Hopkins (hamstring) may return Sunday towards Arizona. … Security Derwin James Jr. reached a profession excessive together with his fourth sack of the season when he dropped Mahomes for a seven-yard loss within the third quarter. … Ekeler has 69 reception for the season, probably the most in NFL historical past for a working again by means of his crew’s first 10 video games.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Close is not good enough in this league. I didn’t make enough winning plays. We didn’t make enough winning plays. It hurts, but we gotta move on.” — Derwin James Jr.