The Kansas City Chiefs stayed on top of the AFC West with a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium. Patrick Mahomes passed for 182 yards and hit Travis Kelce for his only touchdown, while LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams rushed for touchdowns as the Chiefs (7-4) hung on to win the fourth regular-season NFL game played in Mexico despite a few problems with Azteca’s grass field and a one-sided first half favoring the Chargers (4-7), who racked up 312 yards without a touchdown.

“I was real proud of our defense for the job that they did,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Four takeaways, so for the guys that intercepted the football and then helped create the turnovers, I’m proud of those guys.”

After throwing his second interception of the season in the first half, Mahomes led two sharp scoring drives in the third quarter with help from Kelce, who caught seven passes for 92 yards. Mahomes also led the Chiefs with 59 yards rushing while his defense, which had only six interceptions all season coming into Mexico City, held Los Angeles to eight points in the second half. But the win still wasn’t assured until Daniel Sorensen grabbed Philip Rivers’ underthrown pass to Austin Ekeler at the goal line to secure the Chiefs’ 10th win over Los Angeles in 11 meetings. The Chiefs picked off Rivers four times on a miserable night for the Chargers quarterback.

“It’s a football game,” Rivers said. “If you could just pick and choose and never throw them ever, I would choose to throw zero. But it’s hurting us right now. I just need to cut them out.”

More than 75,000 fans watched the Chiefs and Chargers face off at the Azteca Stadium

More than 75,000 fans watched the Chiefs and Chargers face off at the Azteca Stadium. Photograph: Jose Mendez/EPA

The Rams and Chiefs were scheduled to play at the Azteca last season, but severe damage to the turf field compelled the NFL to relocate the game to Los Angeles on six days’ notice. Azteca removed its hybrid turf and installed natural grass this year, and the field had been untouched since Club America’s last home game at the start of the month. The grounds crew came onto the field at halftime and during timeouts in the second half to attend to the worst divots.

The NFL and the stadium still threw an impressive party for 76,252 of Mexico’s football-loving fans, who packed the arena and mostly supported the Chargers, the nominal home team. Although the teams spent less than 48 hours in Mexico’s capital city, the NFL has deep roots among fans around the country. Commissioner Roger Goodell met Monday with Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, while the league and the federal government are considering extending the Mexico game series beyond its current deal through 2021.

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