The stock market doesn’t like surprises but the Chiefs delivered the most improbable and entertaining surprise victory of the season on Sunday night in Denver. The number of improbable events that came together for the Chiefs to pull out this game is mind boggling. They needed every second of regulation and overtime, multiple drive-continuing penalties called on Denver, and some incredible individual performances in the most critical times to get this one. Not to mention the likelihood of a game winning field goal bouncing off of one upright and sneaking behind the other. Insanity...
The Chiefs do not win this game without Hill. Period. And it’s not JUST because he scored three TDs (but, yeah, that helped). The catch on fourth and 10 to set up the game tying TD and two point conversion was another example of the fact that Hill was the ONLY Chiefs WR that was able to get open, catch the ball and move the chains. Chris Conley was a relative non-factor, Albert Wilson was mostly bad (other than a couple big blocks), and Jeremy Maclin was inactive. KC had to find a playmaker, and Hill stepped up in a big way. He’s a legit threat every time he touches the ball. He’s also a guy that can reliably catch the ball in BIG situations and carry the team.
The forgotten man on the Chiefs offense has quietly contributed to the team in a number of ways that don’t show up in the box score. He was a big factor on special teams again this week, both in coverage and blocking. The fumbled punt recovered by Winchester, that was DAT hitting the returner. Huge, physical play from the diminutive role player.
From the first snap, Houston was the best player on the field. The safety got the Chiefs on the board when the offense couldn’t, and set up the Hill kick return. He got the right tackle benched in the first half. Ten tackles, three sacks including a forced fumble and safety. He was making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage in the run game all night, which is what sets him apart from the other elite pass rushers in the NFL. Houston may just be the guy to get the Chiefs over the top for a deep playoff run. He’s that good.
I eluded to it earlier this season, the Chiefs were going to need Santos to make some big kicks down the stretch. I was hard on him because the Chiefs have a very slim margin to win most of their games. Never has it been slimmer than it was this week, and Santos came through in dramatic fashion.
Chiefs defensive line depth
Kendall Reyes got a sack (with an assist from Houston), Chris Jones was a monster all night, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches was again an energetic disruptive force. Dontari Poe went down, Allen Bailey is on IR and Jaye Howard was inactive. The next man up on the Chiefs front continues to be a problem for opposing offenses. Credit to John Dorsey for building great depth, and Britt Reid (a first year position coach) for coaching them up. The future is bright for the front seven, and they can take a lot of pressure off of the young DBs.
I believe he was partially at fault for a couple of the long completions that Phillip Gaines gave up but what Berry did for this team again this week more than made up for any plays he didn’t make. This was a fiercely contested, physical game against a team known for dirty and bullying play. Under the prime time lights, Eric Berry was the Chiefs enforcer. Numerous hits that ended plays in violent fashion set the tone for the game. The Chiefs defense was not going to be pushed around. Andy Reid described Berry as the “heartbeat” of the team this week, here’s to hoping he still is next year.
Others who are trending upward: Andy Reid, Kenneth Acker, DJ Alexander
You knew he’d be on the list after giving up over 200 yards to Denver. He got beat deep on a couple of plays where he thought he’d get some help, including the TD that gave Denver an eight point lead with three minutes left. That said, he also was able to make a couple of MASSIVE defended passes when it counted, including one that saved a touchdown. Still, a very tough day for PG23. He’s still a good young player, and he will bounce back.
I struggle to put Smith in this category when he led multiple clutch drives to bring the team back and help them win. In the first three quarters of the game he appeared to be playing scared. There was NO effort to push the ball downfield or even to the first down markers. He took six sacks, at least a couple of which were avoidable. The Chiefs won with Smith (as they often do), but to be a serious contender, they need him to play the whole game like he has at the end.
Others who are struggling: Charcandrick West, Chris Conley, Mitch Schwartz, Albert Wilson
He had some bad drops again this week. He was a big part of the reason the Chiefs offense was miserable through the bulk of the game. That being said, he was also a HUGE part of why they were able to win. His catch and run on the final drive to set up the game winner was absolutely clutch. You take the bad with the good with a guy like Kelce.
We complain when Andy Reid doesn’t run the ball enough. This week, it really seemed like they were committed to hammering away with Spencer Ware, even when it wasn’t overly effective. Ware continues to be the workhorse in the absence of Jamaal Charles.
Others who are who we thought they were: Tamba Hali, Ron Parker, Eric Fisher