Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 26, Minnesota Vikings 23
What a win! With the Chiefs splitting two games without Patrick Mahomes (and the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers) a first-round bye is now a very realistic possibility. Things are trending up — and Chiefs could get a whole lot healthier very quickly.
Early in the game, the Chiefs largely played a conservative game — with Matt Moore taking a few shots to mix things up. On one drive in the first quarter, they handed it off three straight times before coming up short.
But Moore played an exceptional first half of offense for the Chiefs. He came through with some critical throws — including a great throw and catch to Tyreek Hill for the first touchdown of the game.
The Chiefs were aggressive in the deep red zone, converting a fourth-and-short inside the 10-yard line. But they were unable to get to the end zone and had to settle for a field goal.
The offense was slow to start in the second half with a three-and-out, but responded in an explosive way after the Chiefs were pinned inside the 5-yard line by a Vikings punt. Damien Williams busted out from the shadow of the Chiefs goal post for a 91-yard touchdown run that drastically changed the course of the game. Before that play — tied for the longest run in team history — it felt like the Chiefs were on the verge of being taken out of the game.
Considering the opponent, the offensive line held up well on the day. Cameron Erving continues to be a problem in both run and pass blocking. Add in a false start and holding penalty in the fourth quarter, and the return of Eric Fisher can’t get here quickly enough.
But Moore came back the next drive to connect on an explosive play to Hill that put the Chiefs inside the 25-yard line — but the drive stalled and the Chiefs had to kick a field goal.
Moore’s performance over the last two weeks has been quite impressive. He’s hung in to deliver big throws and given players — especially Hill — a chance. But his play has not been mistake-free. His biggest error in this game came late in the fourth quarter on a high throw to Travis Kelce in the red zone. If it had been on target, it likely would have led to a touchdown; instead, the Chiefs settled for a field goal.
Despite a few fumbles late in the game, Moore made up for it by turning a second-and-21 into a third-and-4 with under a minute left. In big situations throughout the game, the Vikings challenged Moore with extra defenders and forced him to get the ball out of his hands. It worked until the final play, when he connected with Hill again to convert for a first down and set up the game-winning field goal for Harrison Butker.
The Chiefs defense held strong for the first two drives of the game before Minnesota finally scored. The run defense was very good during the early part of the game, putting the Vikings in several third-down situations even on their first scoring drive. A Charvarius Ward holding penalty extended that drive.
The Chiefs allowed big receptions to Laquan Treadwell and Bisi Johnson — the latter for a touchdown. The wide receivers didn’t do much beyond that early drive, as Minnesota largely dinked-and-dunked for the rest of the game. Screen passes were the most successful element of their offense; the Chiefs didn’t show enough discipline on those plays.
The defense had to deal with a short field after Mecole Hardman fumbled on the second half kickoff. After the Vikings were called for holding, the Chiefs bailed them out by giving up a 15-yard completion on soft coverage — and then gave up a wide-open touchdown to Ameer Abdullah on a busted coverage. That touchdown came after the Chiefs had to burn a timeout to get aligned.
But the run fits were very good against the Vikings. The interior defensive line had one of their best games against the run and the pass. Dalvin Cook was limited for the vast majority of the game, forcing the Vikings to lean on Kirk Cousins. Their running game finally got going in their drive that started the final quarter. Their aggressive commitment to the run gave the Vikings space on an end-around that pushed them deep into Chiefs territory. Then the defense struggled to get lined up on a third-and-goal and had a busted coverage on a Cousins touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph.
Still, the Chiefs did a great job affecting Cousins — who often threw off his back foot under pressure, missing a lot of easy throws. Cousins’ impact was minimal, as most of the Vikings’ big gains came on plays that didn’t require much of anything from him.
After the Chiefs tied the game on a Butker field goal, the Chiefs defense came up huge — getting a quick three-and-out that gave the offense the opportunity to drive down for the winning field-goal.
You just have to feel great about the performance of the Chiefense.