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Rookie Jaylen Watson’s Interception Results in a Kansas City Win


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Three years ago, Jaylen Watson was working for his mother at a Wendy’s in Augusta, Ga. He was making $7.50 an hour and getting his grades so as. On Thursday, he was a very powerful player on the sector for Kansas City, though one which few had heard of.

Watson was getting this chance to begin at cornerback against the Los Angeles Chargers and their All Pro quarterback Justin Herbert because Kansas City’s first-round pick, Trent McDuffie, pulled a hamstring within the season opener.

Watson made probably the most of it.

With Kansas City and Los Angeles tied, 17-17, within the fourth quarter and the Chargers two yards from taking the lead, Watson stepped in front of tight end Gerald Everett, picked off a throw from Justin Herbert and rocketed 99 yards for a game-changing pick-6.

When he got to the top zone, Watson confessed that he really didn’t know what to do.

“The ball just ended up in my chest, and I took it home,” he said. “It was a surreal feeling.”

It was a back breaker for the Chargers, who were attempting to do something that that they had not done in 10 years: begin the season 2-0.

As a substitute, Kansas City built on the play to win Thursday night’s game, 27-24.

They did it with a pieced together team. The kicker Matt Ammendola was signed this week to exchange the injured Harrison Butker. He booted two field goals, including the eventual game winner, a 31-yarder with over three minutes remaining within the fourth quarter.

Facing his team’s final possession, Herbert drove the Chargers 73 yards in two minutes, punctuating the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Palmer. It was not enough.

Los Angeles tried an onside kick that bounced Kansas City’s way, and Patrick Mahomes knelt out the remaining of the clock.

What was imagined to be a pinball style scoring fest propelled by Herbert and Mahomes became a battle between two oft-maligned defenses. In taking a 10-7 lead into halftime, the Chargers had bullied Kansas City’s offensive line, stuffing the run and harassing Mahomes deep behind the road of scrimmage on virtually every play.

When Mike Williams made a one-handed grab for a 15-yard touchdown on Los Angeles’s opening drive of the second half, the rebooted Chargers looked poised to run Kansas City off their home field.

As a substitute, a patient Mahomes picked the Chargers apart. Mahomes pitched passes to 10 different teammates in the sport, and on the following possession, he spread the ball around 6, 8, and 12 yards at a time. And when he saw Justin Watson, one other newcomer, streaking down the center of the sector by his lonesome, Mahomes winged a pass 41 yards for the touchdown to narrow the Chargers’ result in 17-14.

Jaylen Watson and his defensive teammates apparently were rejuvenated. Defensive lineman Chris Jones and George Karlaftis chased Herbert throughout the second half, and Mike Danna’s hit on Herbert with 4 minutes remaining briefly sent him out of the sport.

“The defense kept bringing it and bringing it,” said Kansas City Coach Andy Reid.

Herbert returned and finished with a valiant 334 yards on 33 of 48 passing, with three touchdowns. Mahomes, perhaps missing Tyreek Hill, his top threat from a season ago who was traded to the Miami Dolphins within the off-season, racked up 236 yards and two touchdowns on 24 of 35 passing.

Nevertheless it was Jaylen Watson who delivered the heroics. His time at home along with his mother made him realize how badly he missed football. Watson had a few scholarship offers from small schools, but selected as an alternative to go to Ventura College in California, where he earn JUCO All American recognition each years.

In 2019, Watson signed with the University of Southern California. But his grades weren’t so as, and the offer was rescinded. His mother managed a Wendy’s and put him to work.

“I learned resilience,” Watson said. “Nothing was ever given to me, and I feel that’s my edge. I bring hunger. I bring anger to the football field.”

At 6-2 and 196 kilos, Watson impressed his teammates in training camp, and never simply because of his physical gifts.

“He’s confident; I mean that’s big whenever you’re a corner, since you’re going to get beat sometimes and also you’re going to must step back up,” said Mahomes, his way more famous teammate. “He’s an enormous, tall corner, physical, gets his hands on you, but he’s fast enough to run. He’s someone that’s made plays. Every time his number’s been called, he’s made plays.”

When Watson discovered that he was starting, he called home and made sure there was a hometown crowd in Arrowhead Stadium for his first N.F.L. start.

Did his boss from Wendy’s make the trip?

“Yes, my Mom showed up,” he said. “Not my boss from Wendy’s.”

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