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Matt Moore made a key adjustment to lead the Chiefs to victory

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Sunday’s game provided an excellent example of the value in having an experienced backup quarterback

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Maybe it’s the pessimism in me, but when I looked at the schedule before the season, I thought it’d be hard for the Kansas City Chiefs to sweep the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Even with Patrick Mahomes — and in Arrowhead — it seemed logical that the Chiefs would split these two games.

But as it turned out, the Chiefs didn’t even need Mahomes for that to happen.

Matt Moore has been a fantastic caretaker in the place of the franchise quarterback. After splitting the first two games after Mahomes suffered what looked like a scary, season-altering injury, Moore saved his best work for Sunday’s game against the Vikings — in what what we all hope is his final appearance this season.

Some have wondered why Andy Reid called up a high school coach when he needed to find someone to replace Chad Henne during his stint on injured reserve. But Reid’s desire for an experienced veteran in the quarterback room revealed itself in a critical stretch during Sunday’s fourth quarter — one that helped the good guys split a pair of games against two of the NFC’s best.

This story, however, could’ve been altered very easily if Moore hadn’t recovered his own fumble after being caught by an excellent pressure from Mike Zimmer and the Vikings defense.

It’s third-and-13 late in the third quarter. The Chiefs are trailing by three. The Chiefs are in a 3x1 formation with Tyreek Hill lined up farthest inside the overloaded side. The Vikings have three down linemen and two standing at the line of scrimmage. Zimmer dials up a late-showing man pressure against the Chiefs’ five offensive lineman.

Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks disguise their A-gap blitzes to perfection. The running back stays in to protect — so that should the he leave, any peeling defender would remove a rusher — but it doesn’t matter; the Vikings are sending seven against six blockers. Moore doesn’t anticipate it and no receivers see it. So Moore has no outlets to whom he can throw — and no time to throw anyway.

Smith has a free route to Moore — who fumbles, but luckily recovers the ball. Harrison Butker is forced to attempt a significantly longer 54-yard field goal because of the loss on third down, but bails out the offense by tying the game at 23.

A great call by the defense made this play a very real challenge — but when the Vikings went back to it, Moore and the offense were ready.

There are 24 seconds left. The score is tied and the Chiefs are facing another third down. This one is a much shorter third-and-4, but they need a few more yards for a field-goal try.

Kansas City is again in a 3x1 formation — and the Vikings again show a look with three down lineman among five on the line of scrimmage. The secondary tilts to get over all three receivers. Moore is prepared to see the same double-A pressure he saw in the previous drive. After all, they had seen him have trouble with it. Why wouldn’t they go to it on another third down?

But this time, Moore signals to alert for a sight adjustment — where a receiver alters his route based on a blitz — should his guess prove true. These adjustments are determined by protection rules that determine what the receiver should do when certain protections are not able to hold up against blitzes from particular players.

Moore guesses right. The Vikings are again late to show pressure. The running back goes out of the backfield and one defender peels — but the Vikings still have six rushers against five blockers. Thanks to Moore’s pre-snap alert, Hill adjusts to fit in right behind where the pressure originated; on a hot throw like this one, that’s the best place to deliver the ball.

Moore is ready to throw before the snap, delivering quickly to beat the free rusher. Hill gets yards after the catch, getting down to the Minnesota 26 — and Butker’s field goal delivers a 26-23 victory.

Moore showed the value of a veteran backup. He’s limited in some areas — but because of his experience, he wasn’t beaten by the same mistake twice. He was poised and prepared in a key situation that helped give the Chiefs a lot of momentum heading into the second half of the season — ready to surge behind Patrick Mahomes.