CARSON, Calif. (AP) – Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes in the first 9 ½ minutes against what used to be his hometown team, Terrance Mitchell had two interceptions and rookie Kareem Hunt scored on a 69-yard run to seal the Kansas City Chiefs’ 24-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
The Chiefs (3-0) beat the Chargers for the seventh straight time and have won 12 straight AFC West games. Los Angeles’ Philip Rivers threw three interceptions and the Chargers fell to 0-3 in their first season playing in the 27,000-seat StubHub Center after moving from San Diego.
After a quick start, the Chiefs held on through a defensive struggle in the second half. They got two huge plays in the closing minutes: Justin Houston’s sack of Rivers and then Hunt’s sensational run when he cut back against the flow and raced 69 yards down the left sideline with 1:49 left. The rookie finished with 172 yards on 17 carries.
The game couldn’t have started more differently for Smith, who grew up in the San Diego area, and Rivers.
Rivers was intercepted by Mitchell on the game’s third play from scrimmage. Four plays later, Smith hit Tyreek Hill on a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Rivers moved the Chargers into Chiefs territory before Marcus Peters intercepted a pass intended for tight end Antonio Gates and returned it 38 yards to the Los Angeles 34. Four plays later, Smith threw a shovel pass to Albert Wilson for a 14-0 lead.
The Chargers got it together and drove for Melvin Gordon’s 11-yard scoring scamper to cut it to 14-7. Rivers floated a 44-yarder to Travis Benjamin for the drive’s big gain.
After the Chargers forced a three-and-out, Rivers threw his third interception, when Mitchell leaped in front of Tyrell Williams for the pickoff.
The Chargers’ defense began playing better. The Chiefs moved to the Los Angeles 25 before Smith was sacked on consecutive plays, first by Melvin Ingram and then by Joey Bosa and Corey Liuget. Cairos Santos missed a 51-yard field goal, but Rayshawn Jenkins was whistled for roughing the kicker, giving the Chiefs the ball on the 18. The drive fizzled and Santos kicked a 34-yarder to make it 17-7.
Chargers rookie Younghoe Koo kicked a 29-yard field goal as the clock expired to cut the lead to 17-10 at halftime. A week earlier, Koo missed a 44-yard attempt as time expired that would have given the Chargers a win against the Miami Dolphins in their home opener. In the season opener, Koo had a potential game-tying, 44-yarder blocked at Denver and the Broncos won 24-21.
RIVERS’ AIR WOES
It was the ninth time Rivers threw three interceptions. He led the NFL in pickoffs twice in the last three seasons, including last year when he had a career-high 21. Peters almost had another interception in the third quarter but the ball bounced off his hands. Daniel Sorensen appeared to come up with a deflected pass in the fourth quarter but video review showed it touched the ground first.
INGRAM & BOSA
Ingram had a career-high three sacks and Bosa had a half sack for the Chargers, who need big seasons from the pass-rushing duo.
With widespread rebuke around the league toward President Donald Trump for his obscene criticism of the kneeling by players during the national anthem in protest of social injustice, five Chargers either knelt or sat during the national anthem. Many of their teammates linked arms and stood. About 10 Chiefs sat.
Chargers: Gordon injured his knee late in the second quarter. He returned in the fourth quarter.
Chiefs: Return home to host the Washington Redskins a week from Monday night.
Chargers: Host the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday.