After the Kansas City Chiefs failed to get one third-and-10 stop in three tries (I’m not bitter) in overtime of the AFC championship, I refrained from watching the game for a little while—it was too fresh.
The closest the Chiefs have been to advancing to a Super Bowl in my lifetime was ended by an offside penalty, and Julian Edelman running free in the middle of the field for all of overtime. I didn’t even want to re-live Patrick Mahomes’ excellent second-half performance for the longest time.
Time heals all wounds.
I was able to keep myself distracted in the days following that game. Myself, Craig Stout, Matt Lane and Jake Stack headed to the Senior Bowl the next day, which helped the healing process. A few colleagues that were Patriots fans offered condolences, which opened the wound again, but I appreciated the sentiment. Bob Sutton was fired and Steve Spagnuolo was hired while we were in Alabama. A lot changed in a short amount of time and we moved on.
With the draft and free agency in the rearview mirror, I’ve spent the summer mostly learning and growing my knowledge base. A couple weeks ago, I started watching the playoff games. I’ve watched the AFC championship a few times now. I found a few interesting things from the game.
During the season, I did a video breakdown of one play a week. We’re wrapping up “What-If Week” here at SB Nation, so I decided to write about the play I would’ve talked about had the Chiefs won the game.
Here’s a two-play sequence I found interesting:
I've been watching 2018 tape the last couple weeks. Saw this sequence from the Chiefs/Pats game I found interesting. That excellent throw by Mahomes with a free rusher in his face to convert a 3rd and 3. RB switched sides right before the snap, safety trails. pic.twitter.com/u3vkki3jLK— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) June 24, 2019
First, let’s talk about the incredible sidearm slant Mahomes threw with a free rusher in his face. It’s third-and-2, and the Patriots are showing pressure, as they have all game. The Chiefs are in a five-man protection and New England has six walked up to the line of scrimmage.
Spencer Ware is free releasing, but the Chiefs have to account for the six walked up. They appear to slide to the right, leaving Mahomes responsible for the defensive end. He’ll have to beat him with a throw.
Ware switches to the right of Mahomes before, and the safety is late to follow in man coverage. The Chiefs appear to have a rub concept to the field with Ware, forcing the defender to get over a lot of traffic to be in position to stop Ware short of the line to gain. On the backside, the Patriots play off-man coverage and the routes are live for Mahomes. Instead of trying to hit the rub, he makes an impressive, athletic play to beat the free rusher with a sidearm throw for a first down.
Knowing the Patriots have been using man coverage frequently, the Chiefs come back with a similar concept to the play before, utilizing a late motion by the running back and a rub concept to the field.
The very next play, designed rub. Late motion by the RB into the swing. Van Noy trails but late to get over the top of traffic. Mahomes puts ball on Williams quick with space to run. Great call with as much man as New England was running. pic.twitter.com/LjkhubiZyk— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) June 24, 2019
This time the Chiefs dial up a rub concept to Damien Williams. The Chiefs are now lined up in a 3x1, three receivers to the field. Instead of merely switching sides, as Ware did the play before, Williams is out on a swing immediately.
The Patriots are again late to follow the running back, only this time it’s linebacker Kyle Van Noy. A slower defender is now caught in more traffic, with more distance to travel and a better head start by the running back. The traffic leaves Williams untouched for more than 20 yards and the defender in coverage, Van Noy, never touches the running back on the play.
These two plays built off each other with the intel provided. The result was a big play that put the Chiefs in the red zone in their comeback (that eventually fell short) in the biggest game Arrowhead has ever seen.
I hope the Chiefs get a rematch in Kansas City next year.