For all the noise before the game around two elite playmakers in Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, it was seventh-round draft pick Jaylen Watson who stole the show when he scored a 99-yard pick-six touchdown in the 4th quarter to put the Chiefs ahead 24-17.
The rookie, who once took a break from sport on the college level and worked at a Wendy’s, has not had an easy path and was rightfully thrilled with his performance.
“I’ve just been working my butt off and, if the time came where someone went down, I was going to be ready and prepared, and that’s what happened,” Watson said after the game.
“I woke up knowing I was going to get a pick, honestly,” he said. “I just knew, being a seventh-rounder, having my first start, I was going to get tested a lot and early, and I just felt I was going to get one today, and that’s what happened.
“I was surprised. I still knew I was going to get one, but obviously, I was surprised when it happened.”
The Chiefs started slowly, with Mahomes being tightly marshaled by an aggressive Chargers defense which restricted the home team to just 13 yards in the first quarter.
LA took an early 10-point lead after Herbert got his first touchdown on the night, finding Alexander Horvath on a one-yard toss three seconds into the second quarter, but Mahomes showed his class when he side-armed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon early in the second quarter to close the gap to 10-7.
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Chargers receiver Mike Williams made an outstanding, one-handed catch to make it 17-7 with 9:52 left in the third before Mahomes completed a 75-yard, seven-play drive with a 41-yard bomb to Justin Watson just two-and-a-half minutes later to cut the lead back to three.
With the score tied following a Matt Ammendola field goal early in the fourth, it was time for Jaylen Watson to shine. The cornerback out of Washington State, intercepted Herbert’s throw just one yard off the goal line before taking it to the house to give the Chiefs their first lead of the game.
Things went from bad to worse for the Chargers when Herbert was slammed into the ground by Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna on his release, taking a shot to his ribs with 5:06 left in the fourth.
Despite playing the rest of the game, he was clearly struggling and Chargers fans now have an anxious wait to hear if there is any injury break for the quarterback.
After another Ammendola field goal to put the Chiefs up 10, Herbert pushed through the pain to throw another TD to Joshua Palmer with 1:11 left in the game, but it wasn’t enough as the Chiefs held out for the win to take them to 2-0 on the year.
After the game, Chargers head coach Head Coach Brandon Staley was bullish on Herbert’s fitness.
“You’re not going to see a quarterback at any level of football play tougher and do more for their team and will their team to give them a chance more than him,” Staley said. “There’s nobody that can do what he can do, nobody. He showed a lot of guts, he showed us what he shows every day, that we’re never out of the fight, and he brought us back and gave us a chance.”
Despite the loss, the Chargers will be pleased with the start to the season after beating the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1, 24-19, before pushing a strong Chiefs squad so close.