By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce for their third touchdown of the game with 31 seconds remaining, and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied past the Los Angeles Chargers 30-27 on Sunday night to stay atop the AFC.
Mahomes hit Kelce on a short crossing route that Kelce took to the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown, concluding a six-play, 75-yard drive that took just 1:15. The Chargers had pulled ahead 27-23 on Justin Herbert’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Palmer with 1:46 left.
Herbert and the Chargers had one final chance, but Nick Bolton intercepted a deflected pass to seal it for the Chiefs (8-2), who swept the season series from Los Angeles (5-5) and took a three-game lead in the AFC West.
With a one-game lead over four teams in the conference, Kansas City is in position to claim home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Mahomes completed 20 of 34 for 329 yards without two of his top receivers. He still had Kelce, who had six catches for 115 yards.
Kelce scored at least three touchdowns for the second time in his career. He scored four in a Monday night win over the Raiders on Oct. 10.
Chiefs rookie Isiah Pacheco rushed for a career-high 107 yards.
Herbert completed 23 of 30 for 280 yards and two touchdowns, both to Palmer, who had eight receptions for 108 yards. It was easily the Chargers’ best offensive performance in nearly a month as the unit was bolstered by the return of receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Allen, playing only his third game due to a nagging hamstring injury, had five receptions for 94 yards, including a 46-yard catch up the right sideline on the go-ahead drive to put the ball on the Chiefs 16-yard line.
It wasn’t enough for the Chargers, who lost their second straight.
Kelce’s 32-yard touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter put the Chiefs on top 23-20. Kelce caught the ball at the LA 26 after Asante Samuel Jr. made a diving attempt, broke a tackle by Nasir Adderley at the 16 and went up the right sideline for the score.
After Harrison Butker’s 33-yard field goal on the opening possession gave the Chiefs a 3-0 lead, the Charges promptly answered on their first drive in three plays. Palmer beat Juan Thornhill in single coverage and Herbert found him for a 50-yard touchdown.
It was the first time in 20 regular-season games that Kansas City had allowed a touchdown on an opening drive.
Chiefs: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter, Thornhill had a calf injury in the second quarter and WR Kadarius Tony strained a hamstring in the third quarter. None returned to the game.
Chargers: Williams’ return was short-lived. He reinjured his ankle after a 15-yard reception in the first quarter. … LB Kenneth Murray came out in the third quarter with a neck injury. … S Nasir Adderley had a thumb injury in the fourth quarter.
Chiefs: Host the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
Chargers: Return to the road to face the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.
By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer