Quarterback Patrick Mahomes praised rookie Jaylen Watson after the youngster returned an interception from 99 yards for a touchdown to help the Kansas City Chiefs collect a 27-24 win over the visiting Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night.
Watson finally gave the Chiefs the lead after the Chargers (1-1), who answered Matt Ammendola’s tying field goal, marched to the Kansas City 3. Justin Herbert looked straight at Gerald Everett as Watson, who was making his first start, for the pass with 10:29 to go and ran almost untouched the other way to the end zone.
A 99-yard pick-six for a first career INT was a fairytale start for Watson, who worked at a Wendy’s during his freshman year of college while finding a place to play football and was drafted this year as a seventh-round pick by Kansas City.
Jaylen Watson returned an interception from 99 yards for a touchdown to help the Chiefs win
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes praised the rookie after the 27-24 win against the Chargers
The game matched the fourth-longest interception return in the Chiefs’ history and helped them emerge victorious in a crisp AFC West rivalry.
After the win, Chiefs quarterback Mahomes, who shares a birthday with Watson on Saturday, joked that the celebrations now belonged entirely to the rookie, praising him for his stepping up.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys, a lot of new guys and you don’t know how they’re going to react to games like this,” Mahomes told Amazon Prime.
Mahomes joked that his birthday celebrations on Saturday now belonged entirely to Watson
“And for a young guy who was a seventh round draft pick to come in and play against a really good attacking system and play like that.
“It’s funny because his birthday is the same day as mine, Saturday, and I said the whole birthday party will be his birthday party now.”
Watson’s family attended Arrowhead Stadium to witness a special night for the cornerback.
And after the game, 23-year-old NBC’s Hayley Lewis told me, “I woke up knowing I was going to make a choice…as a seventh rounder, I knew I was going to be tested to get big.”
The rookie’s touchdown helped the hosts turn things around against Chargers on Thursday night
The much anticipated showdown between two of the league’s prolific young quarterbacks, each surrounded by leading playmakers, soon turned into a defensive slugfest.
The Chargers held the Chiefs to 13 yards in the first quarter, thanks to relentless pressure from Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack and Derwin James Jr. was just about everywhere, keeping a team that scored 44 points in Arizona last week off the scoreboard until Mahomes hurled a sidearm pass to Jerick McKinnon early in the second quarter.
The Chargers did better offensively, even as coach Brandon Staley chose to play conservatively and Mike Williams grabbed Chiefs L’Jarius Sneed’s cornerback with one hand to give the Chargers a 17-7 lead.
Chiefs’ star quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the fight in the AFC West head-to-head
But just as the game seemed to be moving away from the Chiefs, Mahomes and Co gathered, first to tie it all up 17 on the first game of the fourth quarter before Watson’s pick-six took the first lead Kansas City had all night.
Hall of Famer and former Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez admitted the Kansas City game “wasn’t pretty,” but praised the big names for stepping up.
“It didn’t start off well, but they were able to do what championship-class teams do,” said the Amazon Prime expert.
Former Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez admitted Kansas City game ‘wasn’t pretty’
What Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce right three, Chris Jones stepped up. Big players stepped up when they had to.
“We said at halftime that it wasn’t pretty and you knew something was going to happen. In that third quarter, something finally clicked and you could feel that momentum start to shift and that’s when the Chiefs started playing that Chiefs football.”
Andy Reid’s team then takes on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday 25 as they look to go 3-0 in a great start to the NFL season.