In a surprising fashion — in large part, buoyed by their defense — The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-14 Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
Here are five hot takes from the game:
1. The Chiefs are no fluke
Whether we have liked it or not, it has been entirely reasonable for national football pundits to be patiently waiting for the other shoe to drop for the Kansas City Chiefs. Going into the season with a talented quarterback who nonetheless had exactly one game of NFL starting experience, the Chiefs racked up a string of wins against several teams that could easily be described as average — and gave up massive numbers of yards (and sometimes points) on defense.
You really can’t expect writers and broadcasters — who have spent decades watching the NFL — to simply buy into the idea that all by himself, Patrick Mahomes will cure all ills. Every football pundit worth the nameplate on their door would have expected the Chiefs to fall to the Jaguars.
On Sunday, the other shoe finally dropped. Patrick Mahomes threw a pair of interceptions and didn’t throw a passing touchdown. It was arguably his worst game of the season.
And the Chiefs still had their most impressive victory of the season — thanks to its defense.
It’s not that the defense suddenly became good. It didn’t. It simply played with fire and passion we haven’t yet seen this season, and played like the opportunistic defense we expect to see from Bob Sutton. Even if it gives up a lot of yards, the defense we saw on Sunday — coupled with the offense Andy Reid has constructed — can contend for a championship.
2. Bad boys in the house
Having a defense that plays with fire and passion is a good thing — until it isn’t.
Both Dee Ford and Chris Jones were ejected from Sunday’s game. But both had also been disrupting it until the officials sent them for early showers.
It’s hard for me to be OK with this. I don’t like the idea that Chiefs players get fined for lowering their heads, or get ejected from games. I want the Chiefs to play hard and win, but I don’t fancy myself as a fan of a bad boy team.
But strangely... I am OK with it.
I don’t think this will last. It’s hard for me to imagine an Andy Reid-coached team will have these kinds of things happen week after week, and if getting the defense fired up enough to make a difference in Sunday’s game resulted in Ford and Jones’ ejections... so be it.
They’ll figure out how to have the right balance.
3. Patrick Mahomes. Patrick Mahomes. Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes didn’t put up big numbers on Sunday. In fact, his passer rating was just 62.7. While is it useful, the passer rating statistic is full of flaws — a discussion we’ll have to save for another day — and one of them is that it doesn’t account for things that box scores simply can’t show.
Two of those things happened on Sunday.
One was when the Chiefs offense snapped the ball before the Jaguars defense was ready. Unfortunately, on that play, Kareem Hunt dropped a pass in the flat, and the Chiefs weren’t able to capitalize on the opportunity. The other was when Tyreek Hill caught a 13-yard pass — one that he might have trapped against the ground. The Chiefs rushed to the line and ran another play so the Jaguars couldn’t think about it too much.
In both of these plays, it’s entirely possible that Mahomes was operating on sideline instructions coming through his helmet radio. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Mahomes was capable of actually making those things happen on the field. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen that in a Chiefs quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes is the real deal, folks.
4. Where’s the nearest M*A*S*H unit?
Sunday’s victory came with an unfortunate cost. Justin Houston left the game with a hamstring injury. Tanoh Kpassagnon went out. Safety Eric Murray went out with a lower leg injury. Safety Armani Watts suffered a groin injury. Not all these injuries will necessarily be significant, but their sheer number is bad news for the Chiefs.
But here’s the kicker: late in the game, offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif suffered an injury that appeared to be serious. He was able to walk to the sideline with assistance. But after the game, we learned that he suffered a fractured fibula. That’s probably not a season-ending injury, but neither is it a bump or bruise. LDT has become an important player on the offensive line. Much will depend on the performance of whichever player takes his place — whether it’s Jordan Devey (who stepped in on Sunday) or Andrew Wylie.
Get well soon, Doc.
5. Ladies and gentlemen... Jordan Lucas!
Remember... when right as the preseason ended, the Chiefs gave up a seventh-round pick in 2020 to acquire safety Jordan Lucas from the Dolphins?
I didn’t think so.
On Sunday, Lucas did his level-best to remind you that he’s a Chief. He had four tackles and a 49-yard interception return.
It’s probably unreasonable to expect that kind of production from Lucas on a regular basis. After all, as a third-year player, he still hasn’t started an NFL game. But it’s sure nice to already see some return from such a small investment, isn’t it?
And who knows? With the way things have been going with injuries to Chiefs safeties, perhaps Lucas could be starting soon.