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The Re-Up: The fallacy of the moral victory

The Chiefs lost in New England, but... but nothing. They lost.

It’s our Monday column, The Re-Up. In this column, I’ll write about some deeper thought I had about the last game and finish with some fun stuff to ponder at the article’s end. Check out last week’s column here.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs were down four safeties, two outside linebackers, a right guard, a center and a kick returner. Two of those missing players—safety Eric Berry and linebacker Justin Houston—are among the team’s best over the past decade or so.

The game was played in Foxborough, Massachusetts—the unfriendly confines of Gillette Stadium, to be exact—and the Chiefs were up against the greatest head coach-quarterback tandem of all-time in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

In addition to all that, the Patriots weren’t called for one single penalty the entire evening.

“They only lost by three, we should be happy!” one of your friends or family members likely said to you, a diehard Chiefs supporter, over the past 20 or so hours.

But should you be all that happy? Come with me to hypothetical la-la land, and let’s throw out the score in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game for a second.

If I told you, based upon what you knew prior to Sunday night, that Patrick Mahomes was to get the ball with a little more than three minutes remaining down seven points against the Patriots, what would be your thought?

It would probably be to tie the damn game no matter what, but while doing so, leave as little time as possible on the clock for Brady to beat you.

The Chiefs got it half-right, and Brady knew it immediately.

Rather than working in anything methodical, the Chiefs offense performed as we’ve become accustomed to seeing it perform since the beginning of this season.

It went into overdrive, and a 12-second, 75-yard touchdown play tied the game at 40. The only problem was that there were still three minutes and three seconds left on the clock.

“I’m glad when he was running – Tyreek was running to score – I said, ‘Good, score quick.’” Brady said after the game, “because then we had enough time. They had one timeout left, and it gave us a little time to go down and kick the field goal.”

And of course it did—we had only watched the end of that movie for two decades.

But since I know I’m being nit-picky here and asking the Chiefs to have considered, in a way, taking their foot off the gas, let’s bring the score back into the mix.

Mahomes and the Chiefs scored 40 points on the night. FORTY.


To the Chiefs’ defensive locker room we go...

“(Next time) we’ll definitely have [Justin Houston] back and that will be a turning factor that they will have to worry about,” rookie linebacker Breeland Speaks said following what was his first career start. “I feel like we’ll be ready for them. They had 10 days to prepare—when it’s an even field I feel like we’re going to get the job done.”

Those words are laced with all kinds of uncertainty.

For all the struggles that we have seen in the Chiefs defense this year—they now have a stranglehold on No. 32 in the league by allowing 468.2 yards per game and 500 Sunday night—one thing defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has said that has consistently stuck with me is the concept of the “team being the team.”

The idea is that yes, starting safeties Ron Parker and Jordan Lucas was 100 percent never the plan, but s-it happens in the NFL, and sometimes you have to start the backups. When they are on the field, they are the team.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There are no guarantees that Houston comes back fully healthy this year, just like there are no guarantees Dee Ford stays healthy. How about this?—maybe Houston comes back fine, but someone else goes down with an injury. Maybe Daniel Sorensen has a setback. Maybe a right guard who you thought you’d see back in a few weeks won’t be back this season at all.

What I’m saying here is that all you have is the moment in front of you. The Chiefs may never get another crack at Brady ever again—and I’m not saying that will necessarily be because the Chiefs fall off. Maybe the Patriots do. Maybe Brady calls it a career after the season.

Maybe Brady-Mahomes is a one-time deal. You just never know in the NFL.

Coming close in Foxborough was fun and fantastic—but at the end of the day, it was just a glorified loss. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, a staunch advocate of what’s real, does not believe in the term.

“I’m not a big ‘moral victory’ guy, as much as I am a, ‘Learn from what you’ve got to better yourself’ guy,” Reid said Monday. “We [need to] just stay on that, and get better the next week. I don’t care who’s in there — I really don’t care. Get your stuff together and let’s go play, and get ourselves better. You come in here and look at the tape, you bear down on it, and be as honest as you can be. I say this to the coaches — and myself — too. Be as honest as you can be on it — and learn from it — and then let’s get better. Let’s do that collectively.”

Reid has been in this game long enough to have 20 seasons of moral victories. You know what matters to him?

The victories.





  • 1. Patrick Mahomes on whether the go-ahead touchdown was to Tyreek Hill or Kareem Hunt: “A magician never reveals his tricks. So I’ll just leave it at that.”
  • 2. Bill Belichick on time management, ball control and the Patriots having the game’s final chance at the win: “We talk about it every week. Again, each situation is a little bit different based on time, timeouts and score and so forth. But this one ended up playing out good for us. We had the final possession. We had the final opportunity and we made it. Josh [McDaniels] called a great game. We had great execution on that drive by a lot of different people. But we work on that stuff every week. Both ways – if they had had it, if we had it, need a touchdown, need a field goal, so forth. We try to be prepared for that.”
  • 3. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce on whether the Chiefs scored too quickly: “Not at all, we have full trust in our defense. It is just hats off to the other team for making plays.”
  • 4. Chiefs LB Breeland Speaks on what he thought of the Patriots offense: “Gadgety, exactly what we expected. We knew they were going to attack our weak points, they got a little on us on the run. But we feel like we will be back for them. We got to stop what they were killing us on and that’s the run.”
  • 5. Patriots CB Jason McCourty on Patrick Mahomes: “He is going to be special. We are looking at a rookie quarterback who goes out in the first half of the game throws two picks, and did not blink at all. He came out and played his game and was able to get on the edge a few times, make big plays and we knew as a defense if we could limit those big plays, that would give us the best chance of not letting the ball go over our head. He was everything we saw in film.”


Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Call me crazy, but I liked that Patriots fans are so angry with Tyreek Hill that they opted to douse him with beer. Now before you jump down my throat, hear me out. The Hill moment reminded me so much of when Raiders fans did the same exact thing to Chiefs legend Jamaal Charles back in 2013, when the Chiefs won 56-31 in Oakland. I don’t like the action, at all—no one deserves to get beer poured on them, but the feeling that no matter where they go, the Chiefs are now the villains—that’s what I like. A quarterback of Patrick Mahomes’ caliber and the offense that came with him have created a target. Fan bases of the old guard—such as the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos—will not take kindly to the passing of the torch. We have now already seen that in both New England and Denver this season.



Who do you blame for the Chiefs’ defensive struggles?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Bob Sutton
    (948 votes)
  • 1%
    Andy Reid
    (39 votes)
  • 9%
    Brett Veach
    (189 votes)
  • 3%
    John Dorsey
    (77 votes)
  • 0%
    Clark Hunt
    (17 votes)
  • 34%
    The players themselves
    (681 votes)
1951 votes total Vote Now

If you can’t see the poll, click here.

Discuss in the comments.

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