I don’t know if you knew this, but the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t supposed to beat the New England Patriots last night.
We heard all about it before the game began. The Patriots were something like a million and one opening week when Tom Brady played the full game. The Patriots had won their last 784 games at home in the regular season. The Patriots were the best team in the NFL last year and had somehow IMPROVED over the offseason, bringing back one of the best offenses and one of the best defenses in the league. Vegas had the Patriots as comically large favorites. No chance.
I don’t know if you know this, but the Chiefs aren’t supposed to win certain kinds of games. And if you’ve been following the team for the last few seasons, you know EXACTLY what I mean by that.
The Chiefs don’t win games unless they get turnovers.
The Chiefs don’t win games if they turn the ball over.
The Chiefs don’t win games if the special teams unit doesn’t dominate.
The Chiefs don’t win games if they let the opponent score more than 24 points (or so) and don’t have some kind of defensive or ST touchdown.
The Chiefs don’t win games if they need to lean on their offense.
The Chiefs don’t win games if they need big plays.
The Chiefs don’t win games if Alex Smith needs to put up big numbers.
And on, and on, and on...
You all have heard all of those things (and more) a million times, and all too often over the last few years those things have been more or less true (in varying degrees). However, in New England last night...
The Chiefs did not force a single turnover.
The Chiefs turned the ball over once (at a CRITICAL time early in the game deep in Chiefs territory that felt like a real “Oh crap, is this Pittsburgh all over again?” moment)
The special teams unit, overall, had a decidedly subpar game, with some short punts by Dustin Colquitt, some really rough returns, and basically nothing resembling the fantastic play we’ve been accustomed to from Dave Toub’s unit.
The Chiefs gave up 27 points and didn’t score a single defensive or special teams touchdown.
The Chiefs needed to lean on their offense multiple times against 2016’s No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL, coached by one of the best defensive football minds of our (or any) generation.
The Chiefs had big plays. A lot, actually.
Hill was wide open, but hitting a running WR in stride 45+ yards in the air is never, ever easy. Fantastic throw by Alex. Also, ✌️ pic.twitter.com/r20A3Mxnib— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) September 8, 2017
As far as Alex Smith goes ... well, he’ll get his usual all-22 film review the moment that becomes available (I’m pretty excited to review and write this one up, which is a nice feeling), and I’m not a fan of using base stats to determine how a quarterback did in a given game, but seriously ...
28/35 (80 percent, and some of those incompletions were throwaways ...) for 368 yards (10.5 YPA), 4 TDs, 0 INTs ... I mean, gracious, there’s a chance that he wasn’t as good as those numbers, but even if he’s two thirds as good that’s a ridiculous game.
One game isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but you’re crazy if you don’t believe the Chiefs sent a message to the entire NFL. In fact, they sent multiple messages by marching into Foxboro and beating the world champs by two touchdowns and becoming LITERALLY THE FIRST TEAM TO COME BACK AGAINST THE PATRIOTS AFTER TRAILING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER DURING THE TOM BRADY ERA. (Sorry, it’s literally impossible to say that without it being in all caps. Literally).
For your convenience I have condensed those messages into blurbs:
- Tyreek Hill is, indeed, more than a gadget player.
- Kareem Hunt is a potential superstar and a much-needed cog in Reid’s offense like we haven’t seen since Jamaal Charles’s last healthy season (2014!).
- While the Chiefs defense might do some bizarre crap at times and make the fanbase crazy, they are totally capable of holding Tom freaking Brady to completing under 50 percent of his passes.
- This guy is back.
Justin Houston is a freak. Watch him set up the RT w/ his right hand, then swat w/ left. Speed/power/technique combo is unreal. No contest. pic.twitter.com/AivxwR1rti— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) September 8, 2017
This is a wildly important and frightening development for offensive coordinators everywhere. New England spent the vast majority of the night constantly chipping Justin Houston with extra blockers, and he was put in coverage way, way more than I’d ever like to see. But when the game was on the line and a comeback attempt needed to be squashed, Houston answered the call in utterly dominant fashion, easily racking up a pair of sacks and helping with a few more pressures in the 4th quarter.
Take note, NFL, the best outside linebacker in the game is healthy. Know this, and be afraid.
And finally, we’ve got point No. 5 ... which is a basically a combination of everything you’ve just read. If I could sum it up in a sentence, I guess it would go something like this:
The Chiefs were on the road against the widely acknowledged best team in the NFL, went down a touchdown early, immediately turned the ball over deep in their own territory, played poorly on special teams, didn’t win the turnover battle, gave up 27 points, had 15 penalties for 139 yards, and let Tom Brady take a lead into the fourth quarter ... and won the game by two touchdowns.
That’s incredible. It used to be said about the Chiefs (and it was hard to argue at times) that in order to beat elite teams they needed everything to fall into place just right. Well, last night it didn’t fall into place right at all. But the Chiefs won anyways, and ultimately won big.
Kansas City didn’t have a thing handed to them. They marched into Foxboro, took the best shot the Patriots had to offer, got up off the floor, and proceeded to go toe-to-toe with the “best” team in the league until they unleashed about five haymakers that floored New England (many of them coming from an unheralded offense and a pass rush that almost appeared to be held in reserve until the last quarter, where it unleashed mayhem on Brady).
If they can do that, they can beat anyone, at any time. And now, with an offense that poured on 500 yards against Bill Belichick, they can do it in any way necessary. They took a game they were supposed to lose for a hundred different reasons and turned it into a decisive, statement-making win.
That, my friends, is a heckuva message.