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Takeaways From Chargers' 30-27 Week 11 Loss to Chiefs

What are the main takeaways we learned from the Chargers' Week 11 loss to the Chiefs?

The Chargers were defeated 30-27 by the Chiefs Sunday night at SoFi Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from the Chargers' fifth loss of the season:

Chargers had no answer for Travis Kelce

The Chiefs offense was hampered with injuries to three of their primary pass-catchers, but Travis Kelce was plenty enough to exploit the Chargers' secondary.

Kelce scored three times on six catches for 115 yards. His most impactful grab came in crunch time, hauling in his third and final touchdown of the night to put the Chiefs ahead with 31 seconds left in regulation.

The Chargers matched up several different defenders on Kelce throughout the contest. But on the Chiefs final drive, the Chargers went with their best coverage player, Derwin James, to try and slow down Kansas City's best weapon, but the results remained the same.

"So frustrated," James said after the game. Especially because my man caught the ball."

"It was a man-to-man pick route. They ran a good play, executed. He was running away from our leverage. When I did try and catch up, the dude got in my way, but I got to make that play."

Chargers defense continues to struggle on third down

The Chiefs converted at a 50% clip on third down, picking up five of 10 attempts. That's been problematic for the Chargers all season, not being able to get off the field on third down. And particularly on third-and-long situations, the Chargers' opposition’s have still found success.

“We have to make more plays. It’s as simple as that on third down," Chargers coach Brandon Staley said after the game. "We’re not covering well enough on third down. That’s all there is to it.”

Of the Chiefs five third down conversions, four of them came when they needed seven yards or more. That includes a third-and-17 that Kansas City converted.

"We didn't do good in the run game, we didn’t do good in the pass game and we certainly didn't do good on third-and-long," linebacker Drue Tranquill said. "There were a few times when we had that team pinned, and against that team you have to get off the field on third-and-long. We didn't do that."

Keenan Allen sparks the offense

The Chargers totaled 365 yards on offense, with 280 yards coming through the air. As the offense got its top wide receiver back with Keenan Allen returning to action after missing the last two games, his presence was felt in a major way.

Allen's hamstring injury has plagued him nearly all season, holding him out of seven on the team's 10 games played. Sunday night against the Chiefs marked the first time Allen has played all four quarters, and he said after the game he "felt great" in his return.

“Keenan [Allen] was on a little bit of a pitch count tonight," Staley said. "This is part of his return to play. I thought he exceeded my expectations, for sure. I thought he played well in the game. He felt good all week and he kind of played how he practiced.”

Allen caught five passes for 94 yards. He did, however, fumble in the fourth quarter with 10:18 remaining. But as the Chiefs took over, six plays later, Troy Reeder knocked the ball loose from Jerick McKinnon, getting the ball back for the Chargers offense.

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On the ensuing drive, Allen responded following the turnover, coming down with a 46-yard grab down the sideline in which he cut his route to the inside part of the defender with the ball in flight to put the Chargers inside the red zone. Four plays later, Justin Herbert hit Joshua Palmer for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:46 left.

Brandon Staley shies away from his fourth down aggressiveness

Since Brandon Staley has been named the coach of the Chargers, the team has easily been the most aggressive squad in the NFL. However, Staley, on Sunday against the Chiefs, was more reserve in his decision making.

Late in the third quarter with the Chargers facing a fourth-and-1 from their own 34-yard line, they opted to punt, rather than go for it. This was a situation Staley has gone for it before, but ultimately decided it was in their best interest to disregard the drive after Austin Ekeler was stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain on third down.

“I really felt like flipping the field position there was the right thing to do,” Staley said. “The game was even, and I didn’t want to swing the momentum their way. We had been stopped on a couple short-yardage plays. I just felt like our defense was playing at a high enough level and wanted to give our defense a chance to compete.”

After the Chargers punted, the Chiefs orchestrated a 10-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard catch-and run touchdown by Kelce.

The AFC West race is likely over

The Chiefs have won the AFC West for the last six seasons. And all offseason, teams in the division poured resources into building up their roster via free agency and the trade market in an attempt to close the gap between them and the Chiefs.

The Chargers spent more money this offseason than any other year under general manager Tom Telesco. Yet, as the season approaches Week 12, the division is, in all likelihood, wrapped up for the Chiefs taking. 

The Chargers have played Kansas City tough in each of their two meetings this season, dropping both games by one score in the final moments of each contest. But the Chargers now trail the Chiefs by three games, plus Kansas City holds the tie breaker.

"Close is not good enough in this league. ... It hurts, but we got to move on and get ready for the next one," James said.

The Chargers sit with a 5-5 record, currently sitting on the outside part of the playoff picture, while the Wild Card does still remains a possibility.

With seven games left on the schedule, the Chargers are in line to face five teams with losing records. To get into the playoffs, it will probably take 10 wins, so winning five of the last seven games to close out the season is what will presumably be required to reach the postseason.

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.