Chiefs fend off late Chargers surge for ugly win, maintain edge over Raiders in AFC West

For 30 minutes of football, the Kansas City Chiefs slogged through a sloppy Estadio Azteca field and watched the Los Angeles Chargers outgain them by 203 yards.

But they managed to take a 10-9 lead into halftime and found a semblance of offensive rhythm in the second half to secure a critical 24-17 win over their division rival.

It wasn’t an easy win for the Chiefs, who appeared to have taken control with a 24-9 third-quarter lead only to watch the Chargers keep pressure on until Philip Rivers’ fourth interception of the night in the end zone with 18 seconds remaining put an end to the game.

Critical win in AFC West race

With the victory, the Chiefs improve to 7-4 and pick up a half-game lead on the resurgent Oakland Raiders, who have inserted themselves into the AFC West race.

The loss drops the Chargers to 4-7 and ostensibly out of the AFC playoff hunt.

It wasn't pretty, but the Chiefs picked up a critical win over the Chargers in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Rough night for Chiefs offense

Patrick Mahomes looked little like his MVP self in an ugly first half that raised questions about how much the poor field conditions in Mexico City were impacting the game and the precision Chiefs offense.

Loose turf led to faulty footing for both teams as Mahomes managed 63 passing yards through the first two quarters. The Chargers outgained the Chiefs 312 yards to 109 in the first half, but repeatedly stalled in the red zone, settling for three field goals.

A Tyrann Mathieu interception of Philip Rivers set Kansas City up for the only touchdown of the half, a six-yard scamper by LeSean McCoy.

The Chiefs picked up the pace on back-to-back touchdown drives in the third quarter, the second of which produced one of the few offensive highlights of the night, a 23-yard dime from Mahomes off his back foot that found Travis Kelce in the corner of the end zone.

Tyreek Hill injured early

They built their lead without wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who left the game on the first Kansas City possession with a hamstring injury and never returned.

The Chargers responded with their first touchdown as the third quarter wound down before a fourth quarter saw both teams trade punts and fail to score.

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Tyreek Hill through the years
Feb 2, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tyreek Hill during red carpet arrivals for the NFL Honors show at the Fox Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 24, 2019; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Kansas City fullback Andrew Sherman (42) and receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during AFC practice for the 2019 Pro Bowl at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs for a touchdown against Indianapolis Colts cornerback Pierre Desir (35) during the first quarter in an AFC Divisional playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) warms up before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) catches a pass against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Justin Coleman (28) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) attempts to catch a pass in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 40-33. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs the ball as San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (48) attempts the tackle during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid reacts to a call after wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) scores a touchdown during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 20: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) before the AFC Championship Game game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs on January 20, 2019 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 30: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs teases his son, Zev, by leaning away from a kiss during pregame warmups prior to the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 13: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on December 13, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters (22) and Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) after a NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams on November 19, 2018, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 4, 2018: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks off the field prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns on November 4, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Kansas City won 37-21. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 10: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) before an AFC West showdown between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs on December 10, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 08: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) before a Thursday night AFC West showdown between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs on December 08, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2014 file photo Oklahoma State wide receiver Tyreek Hill, left, is chased by Oklahoma defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue (98) runs a punt return in to tie the game in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla. Hill was arrested Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, accused of punching and choking his girlfriend. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2014 file photo is Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla. Hill was arrested Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, accused of punching and choking his girlfriend. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Oklahoma State wide receiver Tyreek Hill (24) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Oklahoma State wide receiver Tyreek Hill (24) carries in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Oklahoma State won 37-20. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
30 August 2014 - Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Tyreek Hill (#24) tries to break free of Florida State Seminoles linebacker Terrance Smith (#24) during the Advocare Cowboys Classic college football game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Oklahoma State Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Florida State won the game 37-31. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Dramatic last gasp for Los Angeles

Los Angeles saw one last chance with two minutes remaining after fielding a punt at their own 9-yard line. Rivers connected with Mike Williams for a 50-yard gain to keep hope alive in the game’s final minute.

But his end-zone pass to Austin Ekeler ended up in the hands of Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen to put an end to the game.

The late turnover summed up the night for Rivers, who regularly made miscues against the Kansas City zone en route to his four interceptions. He nearly threw another to Mathieu, who dropped a floater that hit him in the hands in the third quarter.

It continues a rough stretch for the veteran Chargers quarterback, who now has seven interceptions in the last two games.

Win sets up Week 13 AFC West showdown

The Chiefs won without a big game from Mahomes, who finished with 152 passing yards on 19-of-32 passing with a touchdown and an interception. The turnovers proved to be the difference as Los Angeles outgained Kansas City 438 yards to 310, but turned the ball over four times to just one for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs head into a bye week before a Week 13 game with the Raiders, who would improve to 7-4 with a win over the New York Jets next week and set up a showdown with first place in the division on the line.

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