Patriots

AFC: Chiefs start quick, beat Chargers 24-10 to go 3-0

chiefs_alex_smith_092417.jpg

AFC: Chiefs start quick, beat Chargers 24-10 to go 3-0

CARSON, Calif. - Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes in the first 9 1/2 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.

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Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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