The Kansas City Chiefs cruised to a 45-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football, erasing the stink of their narrow loss Week 6 loss to the New England Patriots, and pushing their season record to 6-1.
Here are five hot takes from the game:
1. Kurt Warner, meet Patrick Mahomes
Kurt Warner’s story is the stuff of legend.
After playing his college ball at the University of Northern Iowa, he went undrafted by any NFL team, and was signed by the Green Bay Packers before training camp in 1994. With Brett Favre, Mark Brunell and Ty Detmer on their roster, the Packers had no real use for Warner, and he was released before the season began.
He could find no other NFL teams willing to give him a chance, so he played in the Arena Football League. After their 1997 season, he signed a futures contract with the St. Louis Rams, who sent him off to the World Football League, where Warner played very well in the summer of 1998. He spent the following NFL season as the Rams’ third-string quarterback. In that season, he played in one game where he completed four passes on 11 attempts.
But in the 1999 season, the Rams traded their starter Tony Banks, released backup Steve Bono and signed Trent Green to be their starter. Warner then became the backup — and finally the starter when Green suffered a season-ending ACL injury in a preseason game.
All Warner did in 1999 was pass for 4353 yards, 41 touchdowns (with 13 interceptions) and lead the Rams to a 13-3 record.
And oh, yes... win the Super Bowl, where he was named the MVP. That, too.
Going into Sunday night’s game, Patrick Mahomes had already thrown for more passing yards in his first seven NFL games (2149) than any other modern-era quarterback had in their first seven games. After Sunday night — with 2507 — he still holds the record for eight games.
Going into Sunday night, Warner held the record for the most touchdown passes (21) thrown in his first eight games. Mahomes — with 22 over eight games — now holds that record, too.
Granted... the game is a lot different than it was in 1999. So far in 2018, NFL offenses are putting up staggering numbers of yards and points. Comparing Mahomes to Warner probably isn’t completely fair.
But there’s yet another reason it might not be fair: In 1999, Warner was 28, and in his fifth season as a professional athlete. Mahomes is 23, and in his second.
Boy howdy. Imagine what Mahomes could do if the Chiefs defense was any good.
2. Chiefs 2018 offense, meet the Chiefs 2013 defense
I know. Sunday night was only one game. It doesn’t prove anything.
Next Sunday against the Denver Broncos, the defense could look just like it did over the first six games of the season. It could give up 500 yards and 35 points. (Oh, wait. It’s the Broncos. At Arrowhead. Make that... 21 points).
But maybe — just maybe — it’s finally turned a corner. Like it did against the Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars, the defense played with fire and swagger on Sunday night — even coming up with a pick-six.
And for once, it showed in the box score. The defense allowed just 239 yards in the game — roughly half what it allowed in any of the six preceding games — and allowed just 10 points.
Let’s remember: this wasn’t against an inferior quarterback or impotent offense. Andy Dalton is a good quarterback, and the Bengals offense isn’t one with which anyone should trifle.
The defense on Sunday night reminded me of the 2013 Chiefs defense. And wherever you stand on the defensive woes of the Chiefs this season, I’d bet you’d agree that the 2013 Chiefs defense coupled with the 2018 Chiefs offense would be a very tough team to beat — even deep into the playoffs.
Could it be that Bob Sutton merely came up with just the right game plan, and we won’t see this again? Yes... that’s entirely possible. But it’s also possible that the defense is finally getting this thing figured out.
3. The Hunt-er Killer
This week, I have tickets to see a preview of the new movie Hunter-Killer. I’m very excited about it. I have a real weakness for submarine movies of any kind, from any era — don’t get me started on The Enemy Below, Run Silent Run Deep, U-571 or Crimson Tide — but I sure loved seeing the Hunt-er Killer in Arrowhead Sunday night!
Nobody glancing over the box scores from Sunday’s games are going to get very excited about Kareem Hunt’s 86 yards on 15 carries. Well... they might take notice when they also notice the five catches and three touchdowns.
But what Hunt displayed on Sunday night cannot be displayed in a box score. He was running with purpose... with attitude... and with power, grace and athleticism.
He was just... amazing. Keep it up, Kareem. You da man.
4. Thanks, Andy
Let’s be clear: I don’t have any illusions that Andy Reid reads what I write, or even knows my name. And that’s fine with me. I’m quite certain it’s better that way.
But on Sunday night, he did something for which I have been advocating: he managed to slow down the Chiefs offense.
Not a lot, mind you. Just a little.
The Chiefs still had three scoring drives of less than three minutes — one of them because it had to be, as it came just before the half. In order to win NFL games, you’ve got to be able to do that — to go out there and put points on the board quickly.
But you’ve also got to be able to do it a bit more slowly, too. Sometimes you’re playing to protect a lead. Sometimes you’re facing a really good offense, and it’s in your interest to keep them off the field, too.
And on Sunday, the Chiefs had four scoring drives of at least five minutes. The last one was a thing of beauty. It was a 12-play drive with only two passes, and mostly had Spencer Ware in for Kareem Hunt. It took 7:35 off the clock, and gave the Bengals the ball at their own three-yard line. Of course, the issue had already been decided before the drive began — the Bengals trailed by 35 points — but when it was finished, they just ran up the white flag, sending out backup quarterback Randy Bullock with 4:14 to go in the game.
It has been suggested my advocacy of this approach means that I favor the return of Alex Smith.
Instead, what I favor is solid situational football — that is, calling plays that make sense given the situation in which a team finds itself, and then properly executing those plays.
Sometimes that means you pull out all the stops and get down into the end zone as fast as you can — maybe even faster than you’ve ever done it before. And sometimes that means you do something a little different.
And yes... part of being good at situational football is being able to tell which time is which.
So... thanks, Andy. Good job, big fella.
5. Take a load off, Dustin
On Sunday night, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt only took to the field as the holder for placekicker Harrison Butker. He gets paid quite a bit of money to be an expert punter, but it’s really OK with me if he gets the night off from that duty once in a while.
In fact... the more often, the better.
But as it turns out, he’s never had a day off from punting.
The last time a Chiefs punter didn’t punt was — you guessed it — the infamous No-Punt Game against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2003 playoffs. Colquitt, of course, was still two years away from being the Chiefs punter.
I think it’s really nice that we got to see another game like that. And also see the Chiefs... you know... win it. More of these, please.