The 2018 season started like the 2017 season started for the Chargers: really bad special teams play hurt them.
Of course, pretty much everything hurt them in a 38-28 loss to the division rival Kansas City Chiefs in front of a "sellout" crowd of 25,351 at StubHub Center in Carson (which, yes, featured a majority of Chiefs fans).
Tyreek Hill took a punt back 91 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game to put Kansas City up 7-0. Hill chased that on their next possession with a 58-yard touchdown reception, the first of K.C. quarterback Patrick Mahomes' career, to make it a 14-3 game.
The Chargers worked their way back and should have taken the lead by halftime but their pass catchers were neglecting to catch passes. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams lost his man and was drifting all alone in the end zone but he had the ball bounce right off his hands. Rivers overcame that mistake by finishing the drive with a 13-yard TD pass to running back Austin Ekeler.
Head coach Anthony Lynn opted to go for two and a tie game but Rivers' pass was knocked away from Mike Williams to it was a 14-13 KC lead.
The Chiefs upped it to 17-12 with a field goal and then another drop was more dismaying. Travis Benjamin ran by everyone and Rivers dropped a rainbow right into his lap 50 yards downfield but Benjamin dropped it. Even if a defender had caught him the Chargers would have been in field goal range. Instead the Chiefs took a 17-12 lead to the half and extended it immediately.
Mahomes led another TD drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run by De'Anthony Thomas who came out of the slot and caught a small toss from Mahomes that technically went forward so it counted as a TD reception. Thomas was able to take his time crossing the goal line because the Chargers defense was completely fooled by the play.
The Bolts had a promising drive going but Rivers tried to squeeze a ball to Keenan Allen at the 10-yard-line and safety Ron Parker jumped in front of him for an interception. Mahomes made them pay for the mistake with an 86-yard TD drive, capping it with a beautifully-placed 36-yard scoring pass to fullback Anthony Sherman that gave Kansas City a 31-12 advantage.
The final nail in the proverbial coffin came on another special teams gaffe. Rookie punt returner J.J. Jones misjudged a punt, muffed it, scooped it up and tried to make a play, got hit, fumbled, and the Chiefs had it at the two yard line. Mahomes did another little toss, this time to Hill, for the QB's 4th TD pass of the day and a 38-20 lead.
Tyrell Williams caught a 4-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 38-28.
The Chargers have now lost nine straight games to the Chiefs. They travel to Buffalo next week while Kansas City plays another road game, this time on the opposite coast against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.