What made Sunday’s fumble return such an easy score for the Chiefs cornerback was that practically nobody on Detroit even paid attention as Breeland took off for the end zone.
After Detroit’s Kerryon Johnson lost the ball inside a goal-line scrum, Breeland emerged from the pack with the ball and sprinted away before anybody could even realize what was happening.
It was Breeland’s second fumble recovery of the season. He’s just the fourth player in NFL history to return a fumble 100-plus yards for a touchdown and the first since 2000.
1. Even when Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have his best day, the gunslinger always gives the Chiefs a chance to win. The reigning NFL MVP led a game-winning drive on the road, silencing a raucous Detroit crowd. Mahomes used his legs to pick up several huge first downs late, and found soft holes in the Lions defense, which was only rushing two and three defenders much of the final drive. In his first-ever NFL start in a dome, Mahomes was just a tad off on his deep shots all afternoon, missing a bevy of bombs by a hair. The normally dive-bombing signal-caller generated no completions of 20-plus-air yards on the day. Mahomes came in with 14 straight games with two or more passing TDs. Matt Patricia’s defense held him out of the end zone, but Mahomes made enough plays between the 20s and K.C. ran for three TDs, including Darrel Williams’ game-winning score. Sunday was a reminder that even when the Chiefs (4-0) don’t have their best day, and can’t hit the deep shots, Mahomes can still find a way to get a W.
“As a leader on this team, [Mahomes] kept us collected and kept us with one goal in mind, and that’s to get the ball in the end zone no matter how long it takes us to get it there and whether it takes us one play or 16 plays, 20 plays,’’ tight end Travis Kelce said. “It doesn’t matter. We’re going north and we’re getting the ball in that end zone. I think Pat does an unbelievable job of rallying the troops when we need it the most.’’
Mahomes threw for 315 yards while completing 24 of 42 passes. Only three previous times in his career had he gone without a TD throw -- twice in the regular season and once in last season’s playoff game against Indianapolis.
Kelce explained to PFT after the game that he made the decision in the moment, and he said that the looseness and confidence comes directly from the influence of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
That’s how Mahomes plays, and that attitude has gradually influenced the rest of the offense to be willing to take the kind of chances that he takes.
The end result was a victory that, as Kelce explained it, gives the team more confidence than an easy win would. They had to fight and scratch and claw and come from behind late and hold off the Lions even later, and that will give them a boost when they find themselves in similar situations this year, including in January.
“He was in great spirits,” Patricia said, via the Detroit Free Press. “His mom and dad are here. It was good. We’ll just see how it goes.”
Hockenson joined tight end Logan Thomas in being taken down hard while trying to hurdle Mathieu, which led to a question for Patricia about his feelings for that maneuver.
“We got to be real careful when you do leap and you do go up in the air,” Patricia said. “There is an added risk that’s involved in the play, and a lot of time I think those guys, sometimes they take real calculated risks on those situations, sometimes it’s something that we’ve seen on tape maybe previously, or an opportunity that we think maybe a guy goes low. But that particular situation, we’re just trying to keep the players as safe as possible. I want to keep them safe.”
Passing defense: D
Matthew Stafford fired three touchdown passes and was solid for most of the game. The Chiefs couldn’t come up with an interception. But they did sack Stafford three times, with safety Tyrann Mathieu coming up with a big 14-yard loss on a third-and-7 from midfield with about 10 minutes remaining.
Rushing defense: B
One play pushes this grade to near the top. You know the one. Kerryon Johnson attempted to bull over from the 1 and stretch the ball into the end zone. Xavier Williams knocked it loose. And nobody seemed to see the ball loose on the turf, Breeland. He reached into the pile, plucked out the ball and ran the length of the field. No whistle was blown and a replay review upheld the original call. Touchdown.
Around the league
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald caught his 1,326th ball on Sunday to surpass Tony Gonzalez for second on the all-time reception list.
The catch came late in the fourth quarter of a 27-10 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Fitzgerald finished the game with five catches for 47 yards.
Fitzgerald, 36, got to the mark early in his 16th NFL season. Gonzalez, who played 17 seasons, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Fitzgerald is now behind the immortal Jerry Rice, who tops the all-time reception list with 1,549. Fitzgerald is also second to Rice in all-time receiving yards (22,895 to 16,579) and second to him in consecutive games with at least one reception (274 to 231). Of course, Fitzgerald’s streak is still ongoing.
Daniel started two games in 2018 when Trubisky suffered a shoulder injury, his only two starts since 2014.
In one, he completed 27 of 37 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Bears beat the Lions, 23-16, and improved to 8-3 on the year. In his next start, Daniel threw one touchdown, two interceptions, and was sacked five times in a 30-27 overtime loss.
Daniel looked more like the good version of himself against the Vikings when he completed 22 of 30 passes for 190 yards with one touchdown and no interception.
It’s hard to say if Daniel is a quarterback who will be doomed to ups-and-downs. But even if he is, that’d be nothing new for the Bears.
“I saw what you saw,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. “He was getting choked on the ground. They get away with that because it’s Odell. I’m going to be on the phone with Al (Riveron, NFL senior vice president of officiating) when I get on the bus.”
After the Browns’ 40-25 win, Humphrey followed Beckham into the tunnel and apologized.
”It’s not really the brand of football I want to represent,” Humphrey said. “The whistle blowed. It has to be over with.”
Did Beckham apologize?
”I don’t think he did,” Humphrey said. “But I definitely told the refs he should’ve been ejected. It is what it is. Emotions flare.”
At first, the Raiders received just a 15-yard penalty for the play, but Burfict was later ejected after a review of the video.
Burfict has a history of suspensions and fines for dirty hits and questionable play throughout his career. Of the 10 games Burfict has missed during his career, six have been due to violations of player safety rules. He was suspended the first three games of the 2016 season for multiple player safety violations and he missed another three games in 2017 for a hit on a defenseless player (a suspension that was reduced from an original five
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5. The Chiefs defense bailed out the offense
It’s true: the Chiefs gave up 5.3 rushing yard per attempt against the Lions. No one is going to say that’s a good number, but if you have Mahomes, does it really matter that much if the other team can run the ball against you?
It’s true: Stafford completed 34 passes for 291 yards. I won’t say I didn’t see coverage errors, but I also saw a quarterback who was playing at his very best. Stafford is going to make some throws — even if you have a so-called “shutdown” cornerback. I remind you: Patrick Mahomes had a passer rating of 143.2 against a Jacksonville Jaguars secondary that included Jalen Ramsey and 125.4 against an Arizona Cardinals defense including Patrick Peterson.
Here’s what matters: on Sunday, the Lions were just three for six in the red zone and just two of five in goal-to-go. They were only five of 13 on third down. After giving up three sacks in three games, the Lions gave up four to the Chiefs. All but one of them ended a Lions drive.
Running back LeSean McCoy is continuing to prove that he was a great signing. After his first carry resulted in negative yardage, he turned the rest of his attempts into positive runs. He looked great picking up blitzers in pass protection. He may have had a receiving touchdown on the first drive, but pressure on Mahomes caused an inaccurate throw. McCoy showed his electric open-field running ability on a 39-yard rush that set up his touchdown run in the second quarter. He finished with 56 rushing yards (and a touchdown) plus 33 receiving yards.
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