Here were the game’s winners and losers:
- For the fifth time in six years as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Andy Reid clinched a playoff berth on Sunday with the Chiefs’ win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs have now made the postseason the last four seasons in a row. In addition, Sunday was win 205 (postseason and regular season) of Reid’s career, which ties him with former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer at seventh all-time in the history of the league. Reid has three more opportunities for wins this regular season and, in all likelihood, three more opportunities for wins this postseason. Hall of Famer Chuck Noll is sixth all-time with 209 total wins.
- Reid’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the second winner from Sunday’s game. Mahomes tossed touchdowns 42 and 43 and flashed greatness by converting two fourth-down opportunities on the Chiefs’ game-tying drive. Mahomes showcased no-look magic. His 377 passing yards in the game gave him 4,300 for the season. It is the 13th time in NFL history that a quarterback has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 40-plus touchdowns in the season, and Mahomes is the ninth quarterback to do so. He is also the second-youngest (23 years, 83 days), only trailing Dan Marino (23 years, 78 days), who accomplished the feat in 1984. Sunday was the 10th time this season Mahomes threw for 300-plus yards, the most in franchise history.
- Wide receiver Tyreek Hill proved that he is as tough as they come on Sunday. Hill appeared to suffer two injuries in the game—first to his wrist, then to his leg—yet stayed in the game and arguably made its biggest play—the 48-yard catch on fourth-and-9. Hill finished the game with a team-high eight catches for 139 yards, giving him 1,258 yards on the season. Hill’s 1,258-yard single-season output is now tied for fourth in Chiefs franchise history with tight end Tony Gonzalez, who finished with 1,258 yards in 2004. Hill trails the Chiefs’ franchise leader, Derrick Alexander (2000), by 133 yards with three games to go.
- For a while toward the beginning of Sunday’s win against the Ravens, tight end Travis Kelce was Mahomes’ go-to receiver. Kelce had seven catches for 77 receiving yards and a touchdown in the game. Kelce’s 77 yards gave him 5,059 in his career, and with three games to go, his 2018 total of 1,159 is a career high. Kelce made a point of it to celebrate his touchdown by spiking the football in front of a Ravens defender on Sunday, which I liked. “I’m not going to comment on that,” Kelce said after the game. “What happened on the field—[I let] the emotions get ahead of me and I shouldn’t have done it.” I still liked it.
- Spencer Ware showed some promising signs Sunday, as the Chiefs continue to find their new offensive identity after the sudden release of Kareem Hunt. Ware’s final numbers were 15 carries for 75 yards and five catches for 54 yards. Damien Williams scored two touchdowns for the Chiefs on Sunday in his backup role.
- When Cam Erving had to leave the game with an injury, veteran Jeff Allen stepped up in his place. The Ravens sacked Mahomes 3.0 times in five periods (four quarters plus overtime) on Sunday. Eric Fisher had a key play in overtime when Mahomes uncharacteristically fumbled the football. Rather than trying to pick up the ball and run, Fisher dove on the ball, securing possession for the Chiefs. The Chiefs might have lost the game if Fisher hadn’t made a smart play.
- We’ll have to check snap counts on Monday, but upon first watch, it was Demarcus Robinson who received more targets than Chris Conley in Sammy Watkins’ absence. Robinson caught five passes for 42 yards on seven targets, whereas Conley had just two catches for 13 yards on three targets.
- Defensive lineman Chris Jones continued a fantastic season with his ninth consecutive game with a sack. He is the sixth player in NFL history to have such a streak. Jones’ sack Sunday was the 20th of his career and number 11.5 on the season. Linebacker Justin Houston had a key strip-sack late in the fourth quarter that set the Chiefs up with a 43-yard field goal to win the game. Though they eventually missed the opportunity to end the game in regulation, the play by Houston to force the fumble and recover it was as clutch as it gets. Houston added a half a sack in overtime he shared with Dee Ford. It equated to Ford’s career-high 11th sack of the season. Houston now has 5.5 sacks on the year.
- Cornerback Kendall Fuller had a solid game, recording three total passes defensed. Fuller made a key play in the third quarter to break up a deep pass intended for Chris Moore.
- Arrowhead Stadium did it again. The Chiefs have now won nine consecutive games in Kansas City.
- I understand that coming into Sunday’s game, Lamar Jackson had won three games in a row, but the game proved to me that he is a non-option as a starting quarterback. For as athletic as Jackson was Sunday, he did not look good throwing the football. In my opinion, the Ravens have a better chance of making the postseason by going with Joe Flacco, who missed his fourth straight game on Sunday. Gus Edwards, who finished with 16 carries for 67 yards, did not impress me much either. Ty Montgomery was non-existent for the Ravens Sunday.
- The Chiefs safety position as a whole right now is a weakness, and there could be no better time for the return of Eric Berry, who is expected to play for the first time this season on Thursday night.
- Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale had two opportunities to put the Chiefs away on fourth downs in the fourth quarter, and they let the game slip out of the grasp. The Chiefs’ win is sweet for the fanbase, but the Ravens needed this game much more.
- This won’t be the most popular take—and I’m OK with that—but the Chiefs may have a slight issue on their hands with kicker Harrison Butker. While Butker had only missed one field goal all season coming into the game, he had missed an extra-point attempt in four of his last five games. Then he missed Sunday’s 43-yard game-winner. Luckily for the Chiefs, Butker squeaked in a 35-yarder in overtime, but it was far from a no-doubter. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub is scheduled to address the media on Tuesday with the short week. For what it’s worth, Reid did not seem overly concerned with his kicker after the game:
“He’s the man.” - Andy Reid on Harrison Butker— Aly Trost (@AlyTrost) December 9, 2018
- The Chiefs were a little better in team discipline Sunday, but they still took a couple bad penalties, finishing with seven penalties for 53 yards. It will be important to clean that up a bit prior to the playoffs beginning in a couple of weeks.
- If you haven’t heard, there was a Miracle in Miami on Sunday that put the Chiefs in prime AFC position. The New England Patriots lost on the final play of the game that involved several laterals. In addition, the Houston Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs are the only team with two losses in the conference. The Chargers have three and the Patriots and Texans each have four.