(AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs hardly could have envisioned a better way for their regular season to end against the Los Angeles Chargers.

They rested Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and most of their big-name stars. Their backups played well in their absence, helping the Chiefs to a 13-12 road win over a division rival. Chris Jones even got the sack he needed to trigger a $1.25 million bonus, which the Pro Bowl defensive tackle said he would use in part to buy his fellow defensive linemen Rolex watches.

Scott Matlock of the Los Angeles Chargers makes the tackle on Chiefs running back La’Mical Perine. Valley News/Time Stood Still Photography

“I had to beg (Chiefs coach Andy Reid) for one more series,” Jones said with a smile afterward. “He gave me the finger like, ‘One more and you’re done.’ So I went on the field praying to God like, ‘Oh my God, please.’”

It was fun all around for Kansas City (11-6), which had been having very little of it when it was losing three out of four games.

The Chiefs looked better in a win over the Bengals that clinched the AFC West and the No. 3 seed, though, and made their game against the Chargers almost entirely meaningless. But now, the reigning Super Bowl champions do have some momentum as the Miami Dolphins prepare to visit for a wild-card game Saturday night.

The teams played earlier this season in Germany and Kansas City held on for a 21-14 victory.

“It was good to get the win, for sure,” Reid said after the Chargers game. “I think it uplifts you, especially for those young guys who don’t have a chance to play. To say, ‘Hey, listen, I got in, and not only did I get it, we won the game.’ I think that’s positive.”

Mahomes looked just as invested in the outcome as if he was playing the way he stormed off the bench when Harrison Butker kicked the go-ahead field goal in the final minute. So did the rest of the Chiefs who were sitting out the game.

“Great job,” Mahomes said while breaking down the team in the postgame locker room, “but now it’s time to go.”

Kansas City fans held up signs like this one in Los Angeles to show their frustration at their favorite players sitting out in the final regular season game of 2024. Valley News/Time Stood Still Photography


It was fitting that the Kansas City defense scored the only touchdown on Sunday, when Mike Edwards picked up a fumble and ran it 97 yards the other way. That side of the ball has been bailing out the Chiefs’ mistake-prone offense for much of the season.


The defensive front when the opposing quarterbacks run. Easton Stick’s legs were the most dangerous part of the Chargers’ offense on Sunday, and other QBs have had success scrambling against Kansas City’s otherwise stingy defense.

The Chiefs could face a number of mobile quarterbacks in the postseason, beginning with the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa.


Mecole Hardman hasn’t factored into the offense much since his trade from the Jets, partly due to injuries. But given his increased role with Rashee Rice and other regulars resting, Hardman responded with six catches for 77 yards. And one of them was the kind of contested catch that hardly anybody in a Kansas City uniform has made this season.

“He played hard and it was a good experience for him to get out there,” Reid said. “Kind of getting back into that football shape play after play after play. We’ll see where it goes from there. We know Mecole and we know what he can do.”


Hard to say given how many starters sat out Sunday. Even their suspect corps of wide receivers played relatively well.


The biggest loss Sunday was left tackle Wanya Morris, who entered the concussion protocol. He already was replacing Donovan Smith, who has been out several weeks with a neck stinger. Depth along the offensive line suddenly is a question mark.


0 — That’s the number of playoff games Patrick Mahomes has played on the road. If the Chiefs beat the Dolphins on Sunday, it’s possible that number could tick up to one. But for now, he is preparing for another postseason game in the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, where the wind chill could be well below zero at kickoff.

The Chiefs have never beaten the Dolphins in three playoff games. That includes a divisional-round double-overtime loss in 1971 that remains the longest game in NFL history, and wild-card games in 1991 and 1994. Both of those games were played in Miami.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

Associated Press Logo
Associated Press News

The Associated Press (AP) is a U.S.-based not-for-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. Its members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters.