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Chiefs defeat Chargers in OT in game marred by scary injury to Donald Parham Jr.

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Chargers tight end Donald Parham is stretchered off the field after being knocked unconscious.
Chargers tight end Donald Parham is stretchered off the field after being knocked unconscious while trying to make a touchdown catch in the first quarter of a 34-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium on Thursday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. was knocked unconscious and stretchered off in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 34-28 overtime win Thursday.

Chargers kicking themselves, but not field goals, in overtime loss to Chiefs

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce weaves his way past Chargers defensive back Trey Marshall and cornerback Michael Davis.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) weaves his way past Chargers defensive back Trey Marshall (36) and cornerback Michael Davis (43) to score the winning touchdown in overtime of a 34-28 win at SoFi Stadium on Thursday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

One of NFL’s largest games of the week didn’t quite fit into four quarters Thursday night at SoFi Stadium.

Much the same way, the Chargers couldn’t quite squeeze past the Kansas City Chiefs — on the field or in the standings.

After falling behind in the final three minutes of regulation, the Chiefs rallied to win 34-28 in overtime when tight end Travis Kelce divided and conquered a scrambling defense.

Kelce turned a short pass from Patrick Mahomes into a winding, weaving 34-yard touchdown on the opening possession of the extra session.

The sudden score meant Justin Herbert never had an opportunity to answer in overtime, the Chargers falling to 8-6 and missing an opportunity to take over first place in the AFC West.

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Chiefs defeat Chargers in overtime on Travis Kelce touchdown catch

FINAL: Chiefs 34, Chargers 28

Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce scores a touchdown in overtime in front of Chargers cornerback Davontae Harris.
Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce scores a touchdown in overtime in front of Chargers cornerback Davontae Harris to lift the Chiefs to a 34-28 win Thursday at SoFi Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Chiefs solidified their place atop the AFC West, defeating the Chargers on a spectacular 34-yard touchdown catch by tight end Travis Kelce on the first possession of overtime at SoFi Stadium on Thursday night.

Patrick Mahomes connected on a 27-yard pass to Kelce two plays earlier before finding Tyreek Hill for 14 yards two plays. Kelce then caught made his final reception his most spectacular, weaving through the Chargers defense to find the end zone and secure the win.

The Mahomes-Kelce connection was virtually unstoppable. Kelce finished with 10 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Mahomes completed 31 of 47 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns.

Justin Herbert and the Chargers held their own, but they just couldn’t keep up with the Chiefs in the fourth quarter. Herbert completed 22 of 38 passes for 236 yard and a two touchdowns. Keenan Allen made six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

The Chiefs improved to 10-4 with the win and the Chargers fell to 8-6.

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Chiefs and Chargers head into overtime tied 28-28

The Chiefs and Chargers are tied 28-28 at the end of regulation in the battle to determine who will start off Week 15 atop the AFC West.

The Chargers lost the overtime coin toss and the Chiefs elected to receive the kickoff to open the 10-minute extra frame.

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Patrick Mahomes burns Chargers with his feet and ties game with TD pass

Chiefs 28, Chargers 28 — 1:16 left in fourth quarter

Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce caught a seven-yard touchdown pass Patrick Mahomes after the versatile quarterback set up the score with a 32-yard run.

Mahomes continuously frustrated the Chargers’ pass-rush on the eight-play, 75-yard drive, utilizing his uncanny ability outside the pocket to move the Chiefs quickly down field.

It’s now Justin Herbert’s chance to respond. He has a pair of timeouts at his disposal as he goes for the win.

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Justin Herbert throws lasers, gets Chargers back on top

Chargers 28, Chiefs 21 — 2:19 left in fourth quarter

Justin Herbert wasted no time utilizing his rocket-like throwing ability to help the Chargers re-take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Herbert connected on a eight-yard touchdown pass with Keenan Allen to cap off an 11-play, 75-yard drive and give the Chargers the lead once again.

How will Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs respond? Andy Reid has three timeouts left.

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Chiefs tie game with touchdown and two-point conversion

Chiefs 21, Chargers 21 — 7:44 left in fourth quarter

It only took a few plays for the Chargers’ fourth-quarter jubilation to be transformed into stunned silence.

A 69-yard catch by Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce set up a one-yard touchdown catch by Tyreek Hill that was followed by a successful two-point conversion reception by Clyde Edwards-Helaire to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

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Defense bails out Chargers and helps them extend the lead

Chargers 21, Chiefs 13 — 9:29 in fourth quarter

One costly turnover in the fourth quarter deserves another — and the Chargers ultimately got the better end of the deal.

Three plays after the Chargers lost the ball on a Joshua Kelley fumbled on the Kansas City one-yard line, Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu intercepted a Patrick Mahomes pass on third down to set up a two-yard touchdown run on the next play by Austin Ekeler.

Despite five turnovers (three of which came on downs inside the K.C. five-yard line), the Chargers are hanging tough in their bid to end the night atop the AFC West.

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Chargers botch prime opportunity to extend lead

Chargers 14, Chiefs 13 — 11:02 fourth quarter

Chargers running back Joshua Kelley fumbled on the one-yard line while trying to dive into the end zone, allowing Kansas City linebacker Ben Niemann to recover the ball and squander a prime L.A. scoring chance.

The Chargers have struggled with their goal-line offense tonight. They turned the ball over on downs twice inside the Kansas City five-yard line earlier in the game.

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Donald Parham Jr. in stable condition, undergoing evaluation at hospital

Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. was stretchered off the field in the first quarter after he was knocked unconscious while trying to make a touchdown catch.

The Chargers provided an updated on Parham during the third quarter of Thursday’s game:

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Chiefs add a field goal in the third quarter

Chargers 14, Chiefs 13 — 12:16 third quarter

Harrison Butker kicked a 33-yard field goal early in the third quarter to cut into the Chargers lead. The Chiefs managed to drive 61 yards on seven plays to open the second half.

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Chargers take 14-10 lead in the second quarter

The Chargers hold the lead for the first time.

Jalen Guyton caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert to give the Chargers a 14-10 lead with 3:15 left in the second quarter.

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Chargers get onto the scoreboard to make it 10-7 Chiefs

Justin Herbert scored on a one-yard scramble to help the Chargers’ cut into the Chiefs lead with 9:07 left in the second quarter.

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Chiefs take 10-0 lead over Chargers in the first quarter

Harrison Butker kicked a 30-yard field goal with 5:30 left in the first quarter to give the Chiefs a 10-0 lead over the Chargers.

The field goal comes at the end of a 10-play, 48-yard drive for Kansas City.

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Chiefs jump out to 7-0 lead with methodical touchdown drive

The Kansas City Chiefs scored on their first possession, ending a methodical, 11-play, 95-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run by Michael Burton.

It was Burton’s first NFL touchdown since 2015.

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Chargers’ Donald Parham Jr. stretchered off after scary moment at SoFi Stadium

Chargers tight end Donald Parham is stretchered off the field after being knocked unconscious.
Chargers tight end Donald Parham is stretchered off the field after being knocked unconscious while trying to make a touchdown catch in the first quarter.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. was stretchered off the field after being knocked unconscious while diving to make a fourth-down touchdown catch in the opening minutes of the game.

Team medical staff immediately rushed to Parham’s side and removed the face mask from his helmet. TV cameras captured him moving his fingers. Chargers players and coaches offered their well-wishes to Parham before he was wheeled off the field.

Near the end of the first quarter, the Chargers announced that Parham had been transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

He was knocked unconscious on the play when he landed on his side and hit his head on the field — he did not make contact with another player. He was attempting to catch a Justin Herbert pass in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-goal. He had the ball in his hands briefly before landing.

Prior to Parham’s injury, the game started off strong for the Chargers, with Andre Roberts returned the opening kickoff 75 yards before tripping up while trying to cut across desperate Kansas City defenders. However, wide receiver Mike Williams suffered an injury a couple plays later and emerged from the medical tent favoring his right arm and shoulder.

The Chargers failed to score on four attempts from the Chiefs’ five-yard line.

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Chargers’ Joey Bosa is all about player safety. He is not a fan of Thursday games

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

He wanted to return to the field, the Chargers matched up against a Cincinnati team that, at the time, was ahead of them in the AFC standings.

Joey Bosa instead remained on the sideline Dec. 5, watching the second half in street clothes as his teammates secured a 41-22 victory.

A three-time Pro Bowl edge rusher, Bosa was removed from the game early after being evaluated for a head injury.

He was cleared medically to return, but he and coach Brandon Staley opted to be cautious, particularly after Bosa suffered two concussions last season.

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Derwin James and Austin Ekeler active for Chargers tonight

Here’s a rundown of the Chargers players who are inactive for tonight’s game against the Chiefs:

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Justin Herbert isn’t worrying about blindside protection in showdown vs. Chiefs

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert looks to pass against the New York Giants on Sunday.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

The Chargers have a chance to take over first place in their division, a chance to move up on the No. 3 seed in their conference, a chance to sweep the regular-season series from Kansas City.

What they won’t have Thursday night at SoFi Stadium is just as significant: standout rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater, who remains on the COVID-19 reserve list.

So the Chargers will play their most important game yet this season with little-used backup Trey Pipkins III protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside.

While praising Pipkins’ potential and preparation, Herbert offered the most fitting view of the Slater situation.

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Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Betting odds, lines and predictions

Kansas City Chiefs (-3, O/U 52) at Chargers, 5:20 p.m. PST; Fox, NFL Network

The Chiefs (9-4) lead the Chargers (8-5) by one game in the AFC West, but if the Chargers win, they would have the tiebreaker based on a regular-season sweep with three weeks to go.

Las Vegas oddsmakers opened the Chiefs as three-point road favorites. The line was bet up to Chiefs -4 before coming back to -3 as of Wednesday night. Both teams have been dealing with COVID issues, so we’ll find out Thursday exactly who’s going to be in and out.

VSiN’s Adam Burke and Dave Tuley have differing opinions on the best way to bet this key matchup.

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Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs matchups, start time and how to watch

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler scores a touchdown against the Denver Broncos on Nov. 28.
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Chargers (8-5) and the Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) match up heading into their game at 5:20 p.m. PST on Thursday at SoFi Stadium. The game will be shown on FOX and NFL Network.

When Chargers have the ball: There were 40 seconds remaining in the first half Sunday when the Chargers took over at their 25-yard line. It was third and 11 at the 41 when they had only 25 seconds with which to work. Eight seconds later they had a touchdown, Justin Herbert throwing 59 yards to Jalen Guyton.

“There are plays in our playbook,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said, “that you would not run with most other quarterbacks.”

Herbert is the key to everything the Chargers do on offense. He had four touchdown passes in Kansas City in late September when the Chargers won in the final minute 30-24. Repeating that performance now would seem unlikely with the Chargers missing standout rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater (COVID-19 list).

The Chiefs also are playing significantly better on defense these days. Kansas City has given up just two touchdowns and 27 points over its last three games. The Chargers have scored at least 37 points in three of their last four games.

Running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) has touchdowns in five consecutive games. He’s officially listed as questionable. Head coach Brandon Staley said the Chiefs appear to be more comfortable with their scheme than earlier in the season. He especially credited Kansas City’s front, which will be without tackle Chris Jones (COVID-19 list).

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