Chiefs’ D dominates 2nd half to power comeback at Chargers

Chiefs Chargers Football
Chiefs Chargers Football
Chiefs Chargers Football
Posted at 11:10 AM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 12:10:57-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Los Angeles Chargers racked up 240 yards and averaged more than 6.5 yards per play in the first half Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

But the second half was a different story.

The Chargers managed only 125 yards and averaged fewer than 4.5 yards per play, while the Chiefs’ pass rush racked up four of its five sacks after halftime.

“I think we shot ourselves in the foot in the first half,” defensive tackle Chris Jones, who is tied for fifth in the NFL and leads all interior linemen this season with nine sacks, said.

He blamed the first-half struggles on missed tackles and missed assignments, which led to big gains and created “a lot of leaky yardage.”

“We were able to go inside and make a few adjustments, tackle better coming out in the second half and we were able to make a few stops,” Jones said.

Quarterback Justin Herbert, who had completed 14 of 19 passes for 172 yards before halftime, remained efficient. He completed 9 of 11 passes but only for 108 yards in the second half.

Kansas City switched to a more attacking style after halftime, which helped power the 30-27 comeback win.

Jones, who has 58 1/2 sacks in 100 career games, and fellow defensive lineman Mike Danna each had two sacks, while linebacker Willie Gay Jr. also got home against Herbert.

“I have a great supporting cast around me,” Jones said. “Mike Danna, Frank Clark, Khalen Saunders — all these guys have stepped up their game. And I also have Joe Cullen, one of the best D-line coaches in the league. Those guys help me be as successful as I am.”

Jones and defensive end Frank Clark weren’t able to sack Herbert in the closing seconds, but both got pressure to help force a hurried throw into double coverage.

Safety Deon Bush drove on the ball and knocked it into the air for linebacker Nick Bolton to intercept with 16 seconds remaining.

Bolton also had a forced fumble and finished with a game-high 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops.

“Bolton was all over the place,” Reid said. “He’s been doing that all year.”

In addition to his sack, Gay finished with 11 tackles, including two for a loss, but it wasn’t just the Chiefs’ veterans wrecking the Chargers’ offense, which scored on four of five first-half drives but managed only one score on five second-half drives.

During stretches of the second half after Juan Thornhill left with a calf injury and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was checked for a possible head injury, Kansas City’s secondary was four rookies — corners Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams along with safety Bryan Cook — and Justin Reid, who is in his first season with the Chiefs.

“It’s more so being resilient as a team,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and we’ve asked a lot of young guys to step up in roles they’re not familiar with. They’ve answered that.”