The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins 29-13 Sunday afternoon, clinching their second consecutive AFC West title.
This is the good, the bad and the ugly:
GOOD: Marcus Peters strikes, AGAIN
The Miami Dolphins looked to have some juice to their game early Sunday, picking up a quick first down on their initial possession. Then on third-and-6, things changed.
Marcus Peters has an unbelievable ability to always be near the ball. Landry gets hit hard as he's carrying with the wrong arm and it pops out to Peters. pic.twitter.com/UDEsZhQ47s— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) December 24, 2017
Jarvis Landry had picked up another first down when he was leveled by Derrick Johnson, and Marcus Peters snatched the football out of the air.
The offense came on and got three points off the turnover.
BAD: Tackling and coverage on the second defensive drive
After Derrick Johnson and Marcus Peters bailed the defense out on drive number one (above), the Chiefs defense struggled on drive number two.
Jarvis Landry and Kenyan Drake looked explosive, the Chiefs were missing tackles and everyone seemed open.
GOOD/UGLY: JAY !
After a fumble-filled mess last week against the Buffalo Bills, Jay Cutler doubled down and bobbled the ball on third down to ice the drive.
The Dolphins tied the game with a 44-yard field goal.
GOOD: Alex Smith to Tyreek Hill, despite coverage!
Forget about that hesitant Alex Smith narrative. Tyreek Hill was covered in the second quarter and it didn’t matter.
What a throw from Alex Smith to hit Tyreek Hill on the deep post pic.twitter.com/f3ASfcSu11— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) December 24, 2017
Watch this play. Smith launched it at about his own 25-yard line and it hit Hill at about the opposing 20. That’s 55 yards in the air and a perfect pass, and it needed to be as three Dolphins surrounded Hill. It was officially ruled a 52-yard gain.
This was a positive moment because it reinforces a couple things:
- Smith appears to be more comfortable letting the football fly on looks he may not have previously been...
- ...and that’s because Hill’s route running is improving every week and with that, so is Smith’s trust in him even if he may be covered.
- If the Chiefs offense continues to show no fear throwing long balls like this, the defense will need to be cognizant, meaning only more room for other guys like Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt.
GOOD: Kelce’s touchdown catch.
Speaking of throwing to players who are covered, Travis Kelce was blanketed by Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones and it didn’t matter.
Target Travis Kelce, profit. His 8th TD of the season. Not much Jones could do here with this throw and catch. pic.twitter.com/ixvtlsviIS— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) December 24, 2017
Smith followed up the pretty long ball to Hill with this beauty, and the Chiefs went up 10-3.
GOOD: Travis Kelce - 1000*
And speaking of Travis Kelce—back to back.
UGLY: Albert, you dropped six
Albert Wilson has had a great season, but he had a bad drop on another perfect pass by Alex Smith that would have gone for a 55-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Oh man. Alex Smith just had Albert Wilson running free for a long TD and Wilson dropped the prettiest pass you’ll see.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) December 24, 2017
GOOD: Kareem The Dream
Luckily for Albert Wilson, Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt picked Wilson up with impressive runs. First, Alex Smith scrambled on third-and-8 for a first down.
A couple plays later, the Chiefs ran a perfectly-timed option play in which Smith baited Cameron Wake before pitching to Kareem Hunt, who dashed up the field for 24 yards.
Hunt pounded it two more times until the Chiefs picked up the 1-yard touchdown.
UGLY: What was this?
So the score is 17-6 and the Chiefs have all the momentum. Get a stop, maybe another score before the half, and the already-eight-loss Dolphins probably all but give up.
What the Chiefs didn’t need is what happened:
Jakeem Grant looks like he was shot out of a cannon as he broke 3 tackles for a touchdown on the screen. pic.twitter.com/86kgtLZGuO— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) December 24, 2017
The victims: Ron Parker failed to wrap up Jakeem Grant, Reggie Ragland couldn’t make the save, and Grant ran 65 yards for the touchdown.
New life for the Dolphins.
GOOD: Chiefs defense recovers, Tyreek Hill leads to points
The silver lining was that the Dolphins could not take immediate advantage of said new life.
That is because on their next offensive possession, Jay Cutler threw a pass to nobody on second down, and Chris Jones batted a pass at the line on third down, leading to a punt.
The Chiefs got the ball back with under 50 seconds and two timeouts, and a defensive holding penalty got them to the 50-yard line.
Alex Smith was incomplete on first down, but on second down, he threw down the right sideline to Tyreek Hill.
The ball was slightly underthrown, but Hill made an outstanding play to adjust, track the ball and high-point it for the catch over two Dolphins defenders.
The play led to a Chiefs 32-yard field goal and a 20-13 lead before the half.
GOOD: Everything about Alex Smith at the beginning of the second half
The Chiefs faced third-and-2 at their own 44-yard line early on in the third quarter, and Alex Smith looked dead to rights for a sack by Cameron Wake.
Smith first evaded Wake, then a diving Andre Branch en route to a scramble to save the play.
The referees called defensive holding. First down Chiefs.
Smith followed it up with another outstanding pass, this time to No. 82.
That catch from No. 82 was approved by D-Bowe (probably) pic.twitter.com/NeUQRIg07b— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) December 24, 2017
No, not that No. 82. Orson Charles, the tight end called up to replace Ross Travis after his release a few weeks back.
BAD: Tyreek Hill was probably cheated out of his eighth touchdown
This is one of the greatest catches in NFL history!— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) December 24, 2017
Tyreek Hill you FREAK!! pic.twitter.com/6STjQvMqNj
Hill made the catch in the end zone with an incredible effort to get two feet in, but the referees ruled it incomplete. Andy Reid challenged, but to no avail.
Here was the explanation from the league:
In #MIAvsKC, the receiver had control of the football but there was no definitive angle to determine if his first foot is in bounds. Therefore, the call on the field stands as an incomplete pass. -AL— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) December 24, 2017
BAD: Going for it on fourth down in the third quarter
Hard to kill Andy Reid and Matt Nagy for the aggression because I believe that’s always good in an offense, so I gave this a “bad” instead of an ugly.
The Chiefs opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Miami 19 (automatic three for Harrison Butker).
Had they ran out Butker, they would have extended the lead to 16 instead of 13, essentially meaning that the Dolphins would need two touchdowns instead of a touchdown on the field goal.
Yes. The Dolphins, who could only score a touchdown on somewhat of a freak play up to that point, would need to score two more.
Kareem Hunt was stuffed at the line. Turnover.
GOOD: Marcus Peters makes up for the call
Miami pushed the ball to their own 40 on the next possession, and Kenny Still was in the midst of a 17-yard gain when Marcus Peters stripped the ball once again.
Ron Parker jumped on it for the recovery, and the Chiefs managed to get the three anyway.
GOOD: In the meantime...
The #OldAlex never reached the 4,000-yard threshold. But this is the #NewAlex.
GOOD: Harrison Butker ties the franchise record for field goals made
Harrison Butker made five of six field goals Sunday, breaking the franchise record with 36 this year.
The fact that he accomplished this feat as a rookie is impressive. The fact that he did it with three less games (and still one to play to break it) is kind of unbelievable.
And there will be critics (“Yeah, well if the Chiefs scored more touchdowns”), and I get that. But even though he had the additional opportunities, you still have to make the kicks, and Butker has done that.
When Brett Veach, Dave Toub and the Chiefs made the decision to waive Cairo Santos to go with Butker Week 4, it felt especially strange at the time. But I think we get it now.