The Chargers clinched a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 with the victory and snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Chiefs.
"This place is unbelievable to play in; hard, tough," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We lost a handful in a row. I tried to deny it all week, and say whatever you want to say, but this team kept fighting."
With the win, the Chargers improved to 11-3 and are still in contention for the AFC's top seed. They are now tied with the Chiefs for the best record in the conference but would need the Chiefs to lose another game because K.C. holds the tiebreaker.
Down seven with under three minutes remaining, the Chargers marched 60 yards on eight plays, punctuated by a 1-yard pass on a fade route to second-year pro Mike Williams. Instead of kicking the extra point for the tie, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn made a gutsy call and went for two on the road.
Lynn was rewarded when Williams popped open all alone in the end zone as Kansas City's defenders failed to guard him. Williams corralled Rivers' pass for the winning score. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the nearest Chiefs defender was 10.6 yards away when Williams caught the two-point conversion.
"The touchdown to Mike, our first touchdown was that same play," Rivers said. "We dressed it up a little bit, put Travis over there, put all three receivers over there, motioned Travis and hoped they wouldn’t recognize it. And, they busted a coverage."
The last time the Chargers beat the Chiefs in Kansas City was a 41-38 victory on Nov. 24, 2013.
The Chargers could win the AFC West for the first time since 2009 if they win out and Kansas City loses next week against the Seattle Seahawks or in the team's season finale at home against the Oakland Raiders.
"This just means we are in the tournament," Rivers said. "We know we have a long way to go, but it’s just nice to be in. It’s been a while."
The Chargers played without running back Melvin Gordon, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right knee. They also had to move forward without Keenan Allen, who suffered a hip injury in the first half and did not return.
With those two players out, Williams stepped up, finishing with seven receptions for 76 yards and two touchdown catches. Williams also had a 19-yard touchdown run in the second half.
Williams became the first wide receiver for the Chargers with a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game since Tim Dwight on Oct. 13, 2002. That also came against the Chiefs, per ESPN Stats & Information.
Also, per ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers are 2-1 on the road this season when trailing by 14-plus points (won Week 13 at Steelers). The rest of the NFL is 3-78.