Chargers waste chance to reach top of AFC West with fourth-down failures

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers had Thursday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs won at least three times -- maybe more. But on three occasions inside the Kansas City 5-yard-line -- twice on fourth down and once with a fumble -- they failed to convert.

And when they finally got some luck -- linebacker Uchenna Nwosu batting Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' pass to himself for an interception at the Kansas City 4-yard-line and then a play later running back Austin Ekeler taking it in to score -- they still couldn't put the Chiefs away in a 34-28 loss in overtime.

The Chargers (8-6) now trail the Chiefs (10-4) in the AFC West standings by two games with three left to play. A win on Thursday would have given the Chargers a season sweep of the Chiefs and the tiebreaker.

"I feel really comfortable with those decisions," Chargers coach Brandon Staley said of going for it on fourth down. "That’s the way we're going to play around here. That's the way we're gonna play. With a quarterback like ours, with an offense like ours, that’s how we’re going to play."

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was good -- completing 22 of 38 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, but Mahomes was better -- 31 of 47 for 410 yards with three TDs, including a 34-yard touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce in overtime.

"I thought we played well," said Chargers receiver Keenan Allen. "Obviously we've got to find a way to get points ... going for it, I like it."

By the numbers: The Chargers were stopped on fourth down three times by the Chiefs -- and twice inside the 5. While ESPN's win probability model favored going for it each time, the failures added up. The last 49 teams to produce at least three turnovers on downs have now lost. The last team to win after being stopped on downs three times in one game was the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 of 2015.

More by the numbers: Herbert found receiver Keenan Allen for an 8-yard touchdown with 2:19 to play, momentarily giving the Chargers a 28-21 lead. Herbert now has seven passing touchdowns in the fourth quarter when tied or trailing by eight or fewer this season. That's most by any quarterback since the Raiders' Derek Carr in 2016 (8).