If nothing else, the Amazon Prime’s “Thursday Night Football” debut was entertaining.
In an AFC West showdown between Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, the two delivered a riveting game that was decided by one crucial mistake between them.
The Chiefs pulled out a 27-24 win over the Chargers, their first win over their division foe in the past three seasons. Although the Chargers got out to a 17-7 lead behind a methodical offense and an excellent showing from Mike Williams, the Chiefs came back to score 20 unanswered points to open up a 10-point lead, which the Chargers were unable to overcome.
The defining moment of the game came at 17-17, when Herbert was picked off at the goal line by Jaylen Watson, which the rookie housed from 99 yards out. Herbert threw into coverage trying to find Gerald Everett, and Watson undercut him to make the biggest play of the game.
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Mahomes, however, was far from perfect. He made a few questionable throws, including two on one drive that could have (and arguably should have) been picked off by Asante Samuel Jr. The second one looked like the pick six Watson eventually got, and the Chiefs were able to get a field goal on the drive.
Herbert, to his credit, battled injuries at the end of the game that created some truly head-scratching moments. After Chase Daniel had already taken a snap, Herbert scrambled on the Chargers’ last dive. With daylight ahead of him, he limply spiked the ball instead of running for the first down. On fourth-and-1, however, Herbert unleashed a rocket to DeAndre Carter, who hauled it in on the five. Eventually, the Chargers scored to Joshua Palmer in the back of the end zone to make it 27-24, but after failing to recover the ensuing onside kick the Chiefs killed the clock.
Herbert completed 33 of his 48 passes for three touchdowns and an interception, whereas Mahomes went 24 of 35 for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The interception ended up being the difference, but there were heartening signs. Williams looked like a legitimate No. 1 receiver, hauling in eight catches for 113 yards and making the absence of Keenan Allen more palatable.
Mahomes lived up to his preseason promise to fantasy owners and spread the ball around for the second week in a row, hitting nine different receivers and targeting 10 over the course of the game. The leading receiver was Kelce at 51.
It was a clean game overall, and the reality is in a clean game, one mistake can be the difference. That was the case for the Chargers Thursday.
The Sporting News tracked it all live.
(All times Eastern)
11:14 p.m. — That’s ballgame. Chiefs hold on to win 27-24, as the Chargers lose a 10-point lead helped along by Jaylen Watson’s pick six.
11:12 p.m. — Although the Chiefs initially botched the inside kick, they fall on it and keep the ball. Kansas City should be able to kill the clock with just one timeout left for Los Angeles.
11:09 p.m. — On fourth down, instead of kicking the field goal and trying to make it a one-possession game, the Chargers go to the end zone for Joshua Palmer and score six on a nice look-off from Herbert. The Chargers keep it interesting. Chiefs 27, Chargers 24.
Justin Herbert is unbelievable. @chargers cut the deficit to three! @Flowercitysown #TNFonPrime #LACvsKC on Prime Video
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11:07 p.m. — And somehow, and fourth-and-1, he slings a dart to DeAndre Carter over the middle to convert the first. Crazy sequence there, really, and at the two-minute warning the Chargers will come out with first down from the Chiefs 5-yard line.
Absolute dot from Justin Herbert. #TNFonPrime#LACvsKC on Prime Video
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11:05 p.m. — The Chargers running backs are a big part of the passing game now, as the first three plays of this drive go to them. On third-and-1, Herbert’s shoulder fails him and he spikes a ball into the dirt when he could have run for the first.
11:03 p.m. — Matt Ammendola hits another field goal to make it Chiefs 27, Chargers 17. Herbert is throwing on the sideline, but as Herbstreit points out, he doesn’t look fluid.
11:02 p.m. — The Chargers have now used two timeouts as the Chiefs trot out the field goal unit with 3:24 left. Good job by the defense, but that big Edwards-Helaire run looms large.
10:58 p.m. — Clyde Edwards-Helaire kicks this drive off with a massive run and he’s going to get 15 more tacked onto the end of it for a facemask. Great job hitting the hole from him, and Derwin James got inside the facemask. 52-yard run, 67 yards after the penalty, and it’s the Chiefs from the Charger 18.
10:56 p.m. — After his return, Herbert misses badly on two straight throws. The second one should have been picked off, as he locked in on Mike Williams and threw into triple coverage. Chargers punt, and the Chiefs will start from their own 15 with 3:55 left.
10:56 p.m. — Herbert is back.
10:55 p.m. — Herbert leaves the field and Chase Daniel comes in for first-and-10, but it looks like Herbert will be coming back.
10:51 p.m. — The Chargers have a chance to redeem themselves on another third-and-2 here, and Herbert makes a great throw under pressure to Gerald Everett. Herbert, however, goes down and he’s injured. Extremely scary moment here for the Chargers.
10:49 p.m. — The Chargers defense has been very good tonight. Asante Samuel forces an incompletion on Valdes-Scantling downfield, and the Chiefs punt down to the Chargers 15. Herbert is going to get another chance here, but time is a factor.
10:44 p.m. — After the punt, the Chiefs will get the ball back with 8:15 yet. They’ll look to control the clock down the stretch.
10:41 p.m. — Some of these Chargers playcalls are confusing. They go three-and-out in answer to the pick six, and they hand it off on third-and-2. Ekeler gets stacked up for a loss, and the Chargers have to punt.
10:36 p.m. — What a swing! The first turnover of the game is critical, as Jaylen Watson undercuts a throw from Herbert to Everett and houses it from 99 yards out. Clutch play by the rookie to give the Chiefs their first lead of the game, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Tremendous resilience from the Chiefs. Chiefs 24, Chargers 17.
Go make a play, rook. 👏@JaylenWatson12 | #ChiefsKingdom #LACvsKC on Prime Video
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10:34 p.m. — This Chargers team is fighting for every yard right now. First Carter tight-ropes down the sideline for a first down, then Everett avoids getting submarined and fights for a few extra yards to make it second-and-3.
10:31 p.m. — The Chargers pick up a first down and clear the 50 in the process. That personal foul is looming awfully large right now, and the Chargers are looking to reclaim the lead.
10:29 p.m. — Brutal play by Cook on the kickoff, as he catches a personal foul to give the Chargers the ball at their own 40 to open this drive. Equivalent to kicking the ball out of bounds.
10:28 p.m. — It’s a testament to how this game is going, but the Chiefs bring in Ammendola ot kick the chip shot and tie the game up. Boring choice, but with the pace of this game, perhaps the right one. Chargers 17, Chiefs 17.
10:26 p.m. — Frankly, it’s weird this wasn’t a flag. You aren’t generally allowed to make wrestling moves on defense.
Derwin James just went WWE on Travis Kelce. Mercy. 😂pic.twitter.com/a0w8YZ6xB8
10:24 p.m. — Mahomes put a one-read throw to the end zone on second down, but Asante Samuel jumps it and nearly picks it off. On third down, the Chiefs run a shovel pass and get down to the goal line to end the third quarter, and it’ll be fourth down on the other side. Big choice upcoming here for Reid and the Chiefs.
10:23 — ????. Mahomes completes a big pass to Kelce to get down to the Chargers 4-yard line, and Kelce gets body-slammed and the ball pops out. Kelce, of course, was down by contact, but that was brutal.
10:20 p.m. — After a first down incompletion, Asante Samuel Jr. forces third down by blowing up a swing pass. Chargers come out in a bunch set on third down, and Mahomes finds Hardman for a Chiefs first down. Good stick play by the Chiefs to convert.
10:18 p.m. — Skyy Moore takes a fair catch at the Chargers 35. Another golden opportunity for KC.
10:16 p.m. — Chiefs get pressure on the first two downs, and it’ll be third-and-10. Crowd noise is becoming a real factor now. On third down they get to him, as Chris Jones sacks Herbert, and the Chargers will punt from the shadow of their own goalpost. Huge possession for the Chiefs defense.
10:14 p.m. — Well, so much for that. The Chargers force a three-and-out in quick succession. The Chargers have dialed up some really well-timed blitzes tonight, and it’s left Mahomes frazzled at times. Chargers will get the ball at their own 9-yard line after the punt.
10:10 p.m. — Big turnaround here in this game, as now the Chargers go three-and-out and will punt it away to the Chiefs. Chiefs will look to take their first lead of the game, and they’ll start from their own 30.
10:05 p.m. — What an unbelievable third down play from the Chiefs. JC Jackson gets beat on an out-and-up from Justin Watson and gets in from 41 yards out. This Chiefs offense really needed that, and it’s a one-possession game again. Also, great play by Mahomes to step up in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield. He’s still the best in the game at that. Chargers 17, Chiefs 14.
MAHOMES TO WATSON FOR SIX 🙌#LACvsKC on Prime Video
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10:02 p.m. — The Chiefs are showing a bit of urgency here, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is making his presence felt with a slant over the middle. In a two-possession game in the second half, they aren’t running tempo yet, but they’re running plays designed to give them some more space.
10 p.m. — Review finds the ball did hit the ground, and the ball goes back to the Chiefs for second-and-10. Samuel wasn’t happy, but it was clear.
9:57 p.m. — Asante Samuel Jr. may have finally gotten an LA pick after he drops a ball and it bounces off his knee toward the ground. The play is under review, as Mahomes threw the ball to Kelce as he was carried in Samuel’s zone.
9:55 p.m. — The Chargers are going to get a second interception wiped off the board, as offsetting penalties lead to a replay of first down. Mecole Hardman was also slow getting up down the field.
9:51 p.m. — Mike Williams gets his touchdown from 15 yards out! Williams makes an outstanding one-handed catch and drags his feet to score, as Herbert puts an incredible pass on him for the score. It caps off an 11-play drive that took about five minutes off the clock. Chargers 17, Chiefs 7.
Mike Williams is balling out tonight 🔥 @darealmike_dub #TNFonPrime #LACvsKC on Prime Video
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9:49 p.m. — The Chargers are driving early on here, but they’re going to be forced to make another decision on fourth-and-1 as Austin Ekeler gets stacked up at the Chiefs 18. They convert, however, and it’ll be first-and-10 from the Chiefs 15.
9:46 p.m. — Chargers get away with a questionable play call, as they run a swing pass against the grain out of play action that nearly gets blown up. Ekeler, however, makes a man miss and goes for 18 yards.
9:44 p.m. — Coming out of the half, the Chargers get the ball at their own 25. They quickly get into third-and-1, and Austin Ekeler converts with the quickness.
9:32 p.m. — Overall a pretty clean half of football. Chargers keep the lead with scores on their first two drives, and Justin Herbert is a modest 12 of 17 for 125 yards and a touchdown. Mahomes, meanwhile, is 12 of 14 for 98 yards and a TD.
Both teams are pushing for TOP today, and are trying to establish the running game. Both defenses, however, have been stout thus far. We’ll have to see what adjustments are made in the second half, and if both teams try to get more aggressive going downfield.
9:31 p.m. — Chargers take a knee, and we go to the half with it being Chargers 10, Chiefs 7.
9:30 p.m. — Townsend BOOMS a punt down to the Chargers 8-yard line. One has to think the Chargers will be happy to take it to the half with the lead on the other side of the break.
9:29 p.m. — The Chiefs still have three timeouts, but both teams seem ready to take this game to the half for different reasons. The Chiefs will be forced to punt again with 22 seconds on the clock, and they’re frustrated with the officials right now.
9:28 p.m. — Mahomes comes up limping after throwing a ball away on first down, and to make matters worse the Chiefs get hit with holding as Wylie takes down Joey Bosa. It’ll be first down again for the Chiefs, but they lose precious time.
9:23 p.m. — The Chargers roll out on third-and-1, but despite Herbert’s best efforts he goes down two yards short and the Chargers line up to punt. Both teams seem content to take this game down to the half. Chargers down the punt at the 14-yard line, and the Chiefs will have 53 seconds and all three timeouts.
9:20 p.m. — We hit the two-minute warning, as the Chargers look to extend their lead before the half. They’ll have the ball at the Kansas City 47-yard line.
9:19 p.m. — Palmer is getting involved, with two receptions in three plays. First it was a rollout, then it was an out route into space. Chargers are in their four-minute offense with three minutes in the half.
9:14 p.m. — On two straight run plays, the Chargers completely stack up the Chiefs to force a fourth and short. Big stop, and the Chiefs punt down to the Chargers 10 where Carter steps out of a tackle and gets to his own 23.
9:11 p.m. — Mahomes finds Kelce over the middle of the field, and Kelce steps out of a tackle from JC Jackson to get a nine-yard gain and a first down for the Chiefs. First-and-10 from the 20, and Mahomes hits Hardman on a zag route for a gain of eight.
9:09 p.m. — These offenses are clearly run very differently. Where Mahomes is heavily reliant on timing-based routes (unless he’s doing something ridiculous like his touchdown scramble and pitch to McKinnon), Herbert and the Chargers rely a lot on the physicality of their receivers. Against these relatively small Chiefs corners, that’s been an early problem.
9:07 p.m. — Chargers are slowing down the pace here, going with a rare run-run-pass sequence. After eight yards from Ekeler on two straight four-yard carries, Herbert misses Palmer to force a Chargers punt. Scott kicks too Skyy Moore, who calls a fair catch at the eight.
9:05 p.m. — Mike Williams again makes a great catch as he climbs the ladder to snap a ball out of a curl route. He just looks too big for these Chiefs corners as Ekeler rushes for the first down.
9:04 p.m. — DeAndre Carter catches a huge break, as he goes down on the kickoff return and the ball pops out. Carter was clearly down, and the Chargers will start from their 33.
8:58 p.m. — Mahomes finds Kelce after drawing Bosa offside, and then on first-and-10 from the 11 makes an INCREDIBLE play rolling out to score. He sidearms it to Jerrick McKinley to get the Chiefs on the board as Mahomes deked like he was running multiple times. Chargers 10, Chiefs 7 in the second.
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8:56 p.m. — The Chargers are getting a lot of pressure on Mahomes, but an interception is wiped out by illegal contact to bring the Chiefs up to the Chargers 34. It’ll be third-and-4 for the Chiefs from the Chargers 28.
8:54 p.m. — Chiefs getting a bit more aggressive offensively, with Mahomes completing a 30-yard pass to Mecole Hardman. Andy Reid and Mahomes want to answer quickly, particularly with how good the Chargers offense has looked.
Mahomes finds @MecoleHardman4 for a gain of 30 yards! #TNFonPrime#LACvsKC on Prime Video
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8:52 p.m. — Another Chargers kick goes through the end zone, and the Chiefs will start from the 25 once again.
8:50 p.m. — Chargers go with the tried and true play action bootleg to punch it into the end zone to open the second quarter. Zander Horvath scores for the second straight week. Chargers 10, Chiefs 0.
Chargers rookie fullback Zander Horvath has a TD in back-to-back games! @zhorvath_ #TNFonPrime#LACvsKC on Prime Video
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8:47 p.m. — Sony Michel gets stacked up at the goal line, and that will end the first quarter. Chargers will have second-and-goal from the 1-yard line to open the second.
8:44 p.m. — Williams is making his presence felt early. Herbert airs it out to Williams on second down, and Rashad Felton gets called for holding and pass interference on the play. None of it mattered as Williams came down with it, and the Chargers have first-and-goal from the 1.
Herbie going deep! @darealmike_dub #BoltUp #TNFonPrime#LACvsKC on Prime Video
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8:43 p.m. — On fourth down, the Chargers bring out the offense and convert on fourth-and-inches. Also some chippiness from Sneed toward Williams on the outside as we get within two minutes in the first.
8:40 p.m. — Chargers make a… choice on second-and-2. They throw a swing to Carter which he slings across the field to Ekeler, who then gets tackled for a loss of four. Simply took too long. Mike Williams, makes a catch on third down and initial look is that it will be fourth-and-short. Potential decision time upcoming for Brandon Staley.
8:37 p.m. — Derwin James blows up the screen play on third down to set up fourth and long after a quick three-and-out for the Chiefs. DeAndre Carter brings the punt up to the Chargers 42.
8:35 p.m. — The Chiefs are looking to attack the Chargers run defense early. Los Angeles was 30th in the NFL last year against the run. However, they ball behind the sticks and empty the backfield, and Chargers blitz gets to Mahomes for a sack to set up third-and-16.
8:31 p.m. — Dustin Hopkins buries the 31-yarder to give the Chargers points on their opening drive. Chargers 3, Chiefs 0 with six minutes in the first quarter.
8:30 p.m. — Chargers do a bit too much on a screen play on second-and-10. Although LA had decent blocking outside, Willie Gay read it and tackled Austin Ekelber to make it third-and-13. On third down, Gerald Everett makes it fourth-and-2 on a checkdown throw from Herbert. The field goal unit comes out in response.
8:29 p.m. — Naturally, after that, Palmer gets two straight targets. Although they both fall incomplete, Rashad Fenton gets hit with interference to give the Chargers a first down.
8:27 p.m. — Herbert finds DeAndre Carter against zone coverage to convert on third down. Good work by the young receiver to find space as he gets an opportunity with Keenan Allen out. Still no calls for Joshua Palmer yet.
8:25 p.m. — Mike Wiliams gets the first two targets from Justin Herbert, and Los Angeles is already up toward midfield on two plays. Austin Ekeler takes them over the 50 to set up third-and-3.
8:21 p.m. — Justin Herbert and the Chargers will get the ball at the 20 after a touchback on the punt.
8:20 p.m. — After a two-yard completion to Burton, Mahomes hits Travis Kelce on a naked bootleg to set up third and short. The Chiefs, however, get a bit cute on third down and give it to Mecole Hardman on an end around, as Joey Bosa manhandled Travis Kelce. Chiefs are going to punt on fourth-and-6 from the Chargers 48.
8:18 p.m. — Chiefs go old school on third down! The give to fullback Michael Burton picks up about six for the first down. On the ensuing play, they hit Edwards-Helaire on a screen to get up past the marker again. Good-looking drive early and the Chiefs are at midfield.
8:18 p.m. — The Chiefs are going to the ground early, starting with a pair of runs to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Third-and-1 upcoming for KC.
8:17 p.m. — The Chargers kick off to the Chiefs to start the game, and it opens with a touchback.
8:15 p.m. — As we get ready for kickoff, a friendly reminder: This game can only be found on Amazon Prime! It is not being broadcast on TV. Dwayne Bowe bangs the drum to get the Chiefs rolling.
8:05 p.m. — Welcome to “Thursday Night Football” as two 1-0 AFC West teams collide. As the Chargers exit the tunnel, they’re getting the expected reaction from the Arrowhead crowd. A lot of boos rain down on Los Angeles. Kansas City coming out next.
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The Chargers and Chiefs will kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET, 7:15 p.m. local time. The game will be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Chargers vs. Chiefs will air exclusively on Amazon Prime after the company bought “Thursday Night Football” for a massive sum.
Starting in 2022 and running for at least the next 11 years, “Thursday Night Football” contests will be carried exclusively on streaming giant Amazon Prime Video.
Before the start of the 2017 NFL season, Amazon acquired non-exclusive streaming rights for several “Thursday Night Football” games during the year. It maintained those streaming rights through the 2021 season, allowing viewers to also watch games on the live streaming platform Twitch.
MORE: How Amazon won rights to TNF
In December 2020, The New York Post reported Amazon had become the frontrunner to snag the exclusive rights to carry games on Thursday night. In the post, Andrew Marchand reported TV networks had told the NFL that Thursday was a less-than-desirable night. The Disney/ESPN/ABC group had been discussed as a possible contender for Thursday, as was Apple.
On March 3, 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported Amazon was the likeliest home for “Thursday Night Football” games, with a deal likely to be done by the next week. It reported Amazon had been paying between $75 and $100 million.
The NFL announced on March 18, 2021 its latest slate of broadcast deals, noting that Amazon Prime Video would be the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” starting in 2023 through 2033. It was reported by Decider that Amazon’s deal with the NFL will pay the league $1 billion per year through the 2033 season. The deal comes with an increase from 11 “Thursday Night Football” games to 15.
Amazon and the NFL went out and landed two well-known announcers for the new Amazon Prime broadcast, bringing in the legendary play-by-play specialist, Al Michaels, and ESPN veteran analyst, Kirk Herbstreit.
Michaels joins “Thursday Night Football” after spending the last 16 years at NBC, working alongside Cris Collinsworth on the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast.
Herbstreit has been a college football analyst at ESPN since 1996, known for his presence on ESPN’s “College GameDay” and ABC’s “Saturday Night Football.”
MORE: Why Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit teamed up for ‘Thursday Night Football’ broadcasts
Kaylee Hartung will be joining Amazon as its “Thursday Night Football” sideline reporter. She is a veteran journalist who has experience both as a sideline reporter and a traditional news reporter. She has worked at CBS News, ESPN, CNN and ABC.
Charissa Thompson will anchor the star-studded lineup as the host of the pregame, postgame and halftime coverage of “Thursday Night Football.” In addition to her work with Amazon, Thompson will retain her job as a host for “Fox NFL Kickoff” during Fox’s NFL Sundays.
While not formally retired, Richard Sherman, the five-time All-Pro cornerback appears to be focusing on the next phase of his career as he joins Amazon’s studio crew less than a year after suiting up in five games for the Buccaneers.
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Over the course of his 11-year career, Sherman made a name for himself with his intensity between the lines and personality outside of the lines. That intensity and personality are sure to shine as he makes his formal television debut.
After a one-year hiatus from broadcasting, Tony Gonzalez, the Hall of Fame tight end is back on the airwaves as part of Amazon’s studio crew.
Gonzalez, who joined CBS’s NFL pregame show “NFL Today” immediately after retiring in 2013, spent four seasons with the network before joining Fox’s NFL pregame show in 2017, where he would work another four seasons before stepping away prior to the 2021 season to pursue acting roles.
How about some studio Fitzmagic?
Months after officially retiring from the game, Fitzpatrick brings 17 years of experience as an NFL quarterback to the studio. Similar to Sherman, this is an immediate field-to-booth transition for Fitzpatrick, who won the hearts of fans with his big moments — and bigger beard — as a player.
Fitzpatrick described the opportunity as “the right fit.”
Jacob Camenker, Gilbert McGregor and Edward Sutelan contributed to this story.
If nothing else, the Amazon Prime’s “Thursday Night Football” debut was entertaining.