Here are the game’s winners and losers:
- As is usual in this article, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is our first winner, and it is for his two-touchdown effort (watch the plays here) that saw him break the single-season franchise touchdown record. Mahomes’ 31 touchdowns in 10 games pass the 30-touchdown mark by Len Dawson set back in 1964. Dawson’s record lasted for 54 years. Mahomes finished with 249 passing yards on the day.
- Wide receiver Tyreek Hill was on the receiving of both of Mahomes’ touchdown passes on the day, finishing with seven receptions for 117 yards, as well as one rush attempt for 20 yards. Hill is such a unique, dynamic weapon and his talents were on full display on Sunday against the Cardinals. It was Hill’s third multi-touchdown game of the season and the fourth of his career.
- Running back Kareem Hunt had 96 yards from scrimmage in the game against the Cardinals, giving him a total of 1,091 on the season. Hunt reached 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. The only other player in Chiefs franchise history to have accomplished that was RB Abner Haynes in 1960 and 1961. Spencer Ware had only two carries in the game, but one was good for his first touchdown of the season.
- Speaking of running backs, Cardinals running back David Johnson looks to be back to the version of him we saw back in 2016. Johnson’s dual-threat ability was visible in Kansas City, where he had seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown, as well as 21 rushes for 98 yards in a touchdown. He was Arizona’s best player on Sunday.
- Both the Chiefs pass rush and the Cardinals pass rush were winners on Sunday. Each side had five sacks for 10.0 total on the day. Chris Jones had 2.0 sacks, and Allen Bailey and Ron Parker each had a sack apiece. Jones also registered three quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, two passes defensed and a forced fumble. Jones has quietly compiled 7.0 sacks on the season.
- For what felt like the first time in a long time, Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston looked like the Justin Houston of old. Houston looked explosive all game, and when it seemed like the Cardinals had some life—they had the ball trailing by only six points in the fourth—Houston’s timely interception gave the Chiefs great field position and led to Ware’s touchdown. If Houston plays like he did on Sunday, and Dee Ford, who had a sack, continues to play well, that should be a daunting duo for opposing teams to deal with down the stretch. According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the Chiefs had the highest pressure rate by a team in a game this season. Ford had four quarterback hits and three tackles for loss on the day.
The Chiefs defense generated pressure on Josh Rosen on 54.5% of dropbacks, the highest pressure rate by a team in any game this season.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 11, 2018
Dee Ford and Justin Houston combined for 15 pressures, averaging less than 3.4 yards from the QB on pass rush snaps.#ARIvsKC #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/UydcPAklm3
- Because of that pressure, the Chiefs allowed just 260 net yards to the Cardinals, a win for Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
- Cornerback Steven Nelson, who is having a very good season, intercepted Rosen. Nelson had three passes defensed on the day.
- Arizona defensive end Chandler Jones gave the Chiefs’ offensive line fits. He recorded 2.0 sacks of Mahomes and was a difference-maker in keeping an inferior Arizona team in the game.
- After having a good stretch the pass few games, the Chiefs offensive line, and on first watch, left tackle Eric Fisher, had a tough time on Sunday. As mentioned above, Jones led the Cardinals with 2.0 sacks, and they had 5.0 total sacks on the day. The Cardinals offensive line also struggled with Ford, Jones and Houston. The problems of both lines surprisingly made Sunday’s game a defensive battle. The concerning thing about the Chiefs’ line is that next week’s game offers an even bigger challenge in the Los Angeles Rams’ front seven, led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
- The Chiefs’ discipline when it came to penalties still needs improvement. The Chiefs took a total of eight penalties for 63 yards.
- If it had been for any of the other 30 Mahomes touchdowns this year, I would have loved Tyreek Hill’s celebration on his second touchdown, but I think in that moment, I would have liked to see Hill have the presence of mind to hand the record-breaking ball to Mahomes rather than steal a bit of the attention by jumping in the stands and manning a camera. Hill took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play and will likely be fined. Asked about it after the game, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was not happy with Hill.