Chiefs' defense preserves slim lead over Raiders in AFC West

MEXICO CITY -- The Kansas City Chiefs can win an important game even when Patrick Mahomes isn't at his best. Mahomes had the lowest passing yardage total in a first half in his career (63 yards) on Monday against the Los Angeles Chargers, and even though he came alive in the second half, the biggest plays of a 24-17 win were provided by the defense.

The Chiefs' two big-money offseason additions, end Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu, each recorded big plays. Clark had five quarterback pressures, including one that led to an interception. Mathieu had an interception in the first half, and his long return set up his struggling offense in great position to score an easy touchdown.

Mahomes finished with 182 passing yards, the fewest he has had in a game he has finished. He did, however, have a career-high 59 rushing yards.

The Chiefs' defense intercepted Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers four times, which matched his career worst.

Describe the game in two words: Still first. The victory allowed the Chiefs to move to 7-4 and maintain their half-game lead over the Oakland Raiders in the AFC West. After a bye next weekend, the Chiefs will face the Raiders in Week 13 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Promising/troubling trend: The Chiefs continue to have trouble covering running backs in the passing game. Chargers backs had 129 receiving yards, 108 of them from Austin Ekeler.

Pivotal play: Deon Yelder lost a third-quarter fumble that was returned by the Chargers to the Chiefs' 12. But the play was wiped out on an illegal use of hands penalty by the Chargers' Melvin Ingram, and the Chiefs finished the drive with a touchdown that allowed them to extend their lead to 17-9.

Silver lining: Tyreek Hill left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury, and his absence appeared to throw Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense out of sorts for the rest of the first half. The Chiefs eventually survived without him, and now he gets a bye week to heal before the important meeting with the Raiders in two weeks.