Casey Hayward is actually a fan of Tyreek Hill’s touchdown celebration, in which the Kansas City Chiefs receiver, while burning an opponent for a long scoring play, flashes a peace sign over his shoulder, as if to say “peace-out” to the defense, on the way to the end zone.
“It’s kind of legit,” the Chargers cornerback said Thursday. “It’s like he’s saying, ‘I’m outta here.’ I might steal it some day.”
Hayward was probably not feeling as magnanimous toward Hill in the second quarter of the Chargers’ 30-13 loss to the Chiefs on Saturday night in Arrowhead Stadium.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Hill, one of the fastest players in the league, left Hayward in his wake on a 64-yard touchdown reception down the right sideline that gave Kansas City a 10-0 lead with 6 minutes 30 seconds left before halftime.
Hill caught a perfectly thrown pass from quarterback Alex Smith at the Chargers 30-yard line. As he cruised toward the end zone, Hill threw up the “deuces” with his left hand over his left shoulder.
“It was all right,” Hayward said of the gesture. “That wasn’t the first time I’ve been scored on, and it won’t be my last. I didn’t want it to happen, but that’s just football.”
Hill is no easy receiver to keep up with. According to NFL Research, Hill reached a maximum speed of 21.19 mph on the play, the second-fastest max speed on a receiving touchdown this season, trailing Hill’s 64-yard catch against Oakland in Week 7, when he reached a top speed of 21.64 mph.
The play raised the question of whether Hayward, who was slowed by a calf injury the last week, was at full strength. The defender was not within five yards of Hill when the catch was made.
But Hayward said he felt fine. Rather, the touchdown was the result of Hayward using the wrong technique in coverage.
“I wasn’t supposed to be pressing — I was supposed to play off of him,” Hayward said. “I should have been more aware, more in tune to the game. He’s so fast, I tried to get my hands on him, and he slipped by me. It could have been prevented.”
Outside of the long touchdown, Hill caught only four other passes for 24 yards.
“I was mad about that play because we could have really limited them,” Hayward said. “I knew right away that I messed it up.”
Middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, whose return from left ankle surgery boosted a defense that held the Chargers’ previous three opponents to an average of 77.7 yards rushing, limped off the field with the help of trainers just before halftime and was carted to the locker room.
Perryman, who sat out the first eight games because of left ankle surgery, was diagnosed with a hamstring injury and did not return. He was replaced by Jatavis Brown and Hayes Pullard, neither of whom is the force that Perryman is inside.
After rushing for 48 yards in the first half, the Chiefs racked up 126 yards rushing in the second half. Kareem Hunt, who finished with 155 yards in 24 carries, converted two third downs with runs of 17 and seven yards on a 12-play, 69-yard scoring drive that gave Kansas City a 17-13 lead with 2:07 left in the third quarter.
Hunt also had runs of 23 and 21 yards on a fourth-quarter drive that he capped with a game-sealing five-yard touchdown run for a 30-13 lead with 3:57 left.
“Denzel is the heart of our defense,” running back Melvin Gordon said. “When he goes down, that’s a big blow to us.”
The 10-yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates in the third quarter marked the 86th time the veteran quarterback and tight end have teamed for a touchdown pass, the second-most by a quarterback-receiver tandem in NFL history.
Gates broke free from linebacker Derrick Johnson on a crossing route and was wide open when Rivers hit him with 9:20 left in the period to cap a six-play, 88-yard drive that gave the Chargers a 13-10 lead.
The score moved Rivers and Gates ahead of Steve Young and Jerry Rice, who combined for 85 touchdown pass plays.