Justin Herbert helps Chargers get best of Chiefs backups in Week 17 win

The Chargers got the best of the Chiefs second-stringers to win in Week 17.

Despite the overall trajectories of the two teams clashing at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 17, the outcome on this night wasn’t all that unexpected. The Los Angeles Chargers took care of business with Justin Herbert at quarterback to get the best of the Kansas City Chiefs second stringers for a 38-21 victory.

The Bolts put up their fourth straight win on Sunday, but they did so against a young Chiefs team that was largely playing backups on both sides of the ball. Given that K.C. had already locked up the first-round bye in the AFC, there was little reason for head coach Andy Reid to play his best players, so he gave most of his veterans an extra week’s rest. That meant Chad Henne was playing in place of Patrick Mahomes and several familiar faces—from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark—sat out Week 17.

Both offenses looked good in the first half of the game. The Chiefs came out and moved the chains with a sharp opening drive that featured a nice long catch and run by running back Darwin Thompson for 37 yards. Chad Henne completed all six passes on the drive, including a short pass to Byron Pringle for the first touchdown of the game. Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense came right back with a 75-yard drive that ended in a 8-yard touchdown throw to tight end Donald Parham.

The Chiefs came right back with a 12-play, 72 yard drive that ended with a short touchdown run by Thompson, his first of the season, to give them a 14-7 lead. On the ensuing drive, the Chargers were forced to punt after a handful of plays, but wide receiver Mecole Hardman fumble the return and gave the Chargers the ball in the red zone. Herbert took care of business with his second touchdown pass of the day to Austin Ekeler.

From there, both defenses began to settle in with timely plays. The Chargers had a first-and-goal situation but the Chiefs defense somehow kept Herbert from breaking the goal line on a short 1-yard run. The Bolts returned the favor when the Chiefs, who were backed up offensively, allowed the L.A. pass rush to sack Henne in the end zone for a safety—their first in four seasons. The Chargers were able to score a touchdown before halftime given the short field after the safety, and they went into halftime with a 24-14 lead.

In the second half, both defenses traded early stops before the offenses once again got going. The Chargers moved the ball with ease against an inexperienced Chiefs defense with touchdown drives of 70 and 77 yards in the third and early fourth quarters to go up 38-21. Those scores bookended the Chiefs only touchdown of the third quarter, a short 8-yard touchdown pass from Henne to Thompson, his second trip into the end zone in the game.

For the most part, this game was all about two things for the Chiefs: giving younger players a chance to play, which they did, and avoiding injuries, which they did not. Deandre Baker was taken off the field on a medical cart. Willie Gay was lost for the game as well. Fortunately it was promising to see Thompson earn 110 yards from scrimmage and Byron Pringle show up strong. Several other young defenders had highlight plays as well, including Baker, Khalen Saunders, and Tim Ward.

The Chiefs now have next week off to continue to rest and prepare for a hopeful title defense. They finish the regular season with a 14-2 record, which sets a new franchise record for regular season victories.