After preseason billing as perhaps an AFC finalist, the Los Angeles Chargers showed many of their signature flubs on Sunday in a loss to the Chiefs.
You could have scripted this one in Los Angeles on Sunday night: An early deficit, a lack of defensive intensity, and a comeback that fell short. The Chargers’ constant pattern of the same mistakes showed up once again in a Week 1 loss to the divisional-rival Kansas City Chiefs, 38-28.
It started with special teams. After a 2017 plagued with missed field goals that contributed in a massive way to their 9-7 finish, Los Angeles gave up an early lead to Kansas City because of a special teams mistake. In the first quarter, Chiefs’ playmaker Tyreek Hill busted a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown after a Chargers’ three-and-out.
Hill was again the suspect in the Chiefs’ second score, a 58-yard streaking touchdown reception to cap off a 75-yard drive. Just like that, the Chargers were down two touchdowns and it was up to Philip Rivers to mount a comeback.
If you’ve watched the Chargers before, you know that’s not necessarily a recipe for failure. Rivers has consistently orchestrated magic late in games to keep Los Angeles close. It wasn’t enough in Week 1. The quarterback’s 424-yard, three-touchdown performance came up short compared with rookie Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs.
After so much buzz over the summer, this Los Angeles loss will cause panic. It shouldn’t.
They may not quite be in midseason form, or look like a conference finalist just yet, but the Chargers will be fine if they can get healthy. After losing cornerback Jason Verrett and tight end Hunter Henry for the season due to injury, reports over the weekend indicated Joey Bosa could miss up to a month and would be seeking a second opinion on a possible foot fracture.
But Los Angeles responded to Henry’s injury by re-signing Antonio Gates for a 16th season, and Bosa missing a month isn’t a death sentence for the defense.
The Chargers need to sort out their secondary, where Verrett’s absence was huge on Sunday while Hill scampered for 169 receiving yards. If they can plug that hole until Bosa’s return, keep their offense churning, and avoid further injury, Los Angeles should be fine.
Sounds doable. But that’s a whole lot of ifs.