But there’s a cost to being at the top, and Jacksonville’s defense gave Kansas City a taste of how every team should be playing them from here on out. As one of the best teams in the league, the Chiefs have a significant target on their back, and teams like the Jaguars will give everything they have to try and knock them down.
The tension was high early on in Sunday’s game, as cornerback Jalen Ramsey and the rest of his defense exchanged words with Tyreek Hill, Damien Williams and other members of the Chiefs offense.
Tyreek Hill went up to Ramsey then went to the sideline in some pain.. pic.twitter.com/mWUQZWG1yZ— #BOOMIN (@ftbeard_17) September 8, 2019
All the talking came to a head with less than four minutes to go in the first quarter when Jags’ linebacker Myles Jack had a physical exchange with a couple of Chiefs players following a play.
After Sammy Watkins took Jack to the ground in the end zone, the linebacker popped up and shoved Watkins. Demarcus Robinson responded by pushing Jack in the back, who retaliated by throwing a punch.
“In the heat of the moment, I just felt like when Sammy Watkins ran a route that was not a route and came and hit me underneath my chin,” Jack explained after the game. “I put my hands up and he stood over me and said something to me so I pushed him and next thing I know, someone pushed me from behind. I did not see any flags thrown so at that point I felt like I needed to defend myself from the altercation that was going on after the play.
“At that point I felt like we were not playing football anymore, but that is no excuse for my actions.”
Jack was ejected from the game after that play and apologized for what happened afterward, but the real damage had already been done. Hill had to go to the hospital with an injury after his exchange with Ramsey, and Mahomes injured his ankle during the Jack exchange, which limited his mobility for the rest of the game. The Jaguars took every opportunity they could to hit Mahomes after the injury, totaling four quarterbacks hits without getting a single sack.
“You play one of Doug (Marrone)’s teams and you better be ready for a big tough football game,” head coach Andy Reid said postgame. “That’s what it was. I’m proud of my guys for the effort they put in. It was a son of a gun out there. It was hot…Our guys fought through and did a nice job today.”
The Chiefs shouldn’t only expect this from the Jaguars but from every team they face from here on out. They defeated Jacksonville handily despite the physical play, but it’s clear the game took its toll on the team. The rest of the league sees Kansas City as the top dog in the conference, so games in which defenses talk trash or take extra shots at Mahomes might come often this season.
But the Chiefs are seen as the best for a reason, and the players themselves don’t seem to be worried. Defensive end Frank Clark explained that he sees extra attention as a sign of respect.
“You pay the cost to be the boss,” Clark said matter-of-factly. “Me and Chris (Jones) were talking about it on the sideline; when you get to certain level in your career, guys start to show you respect in those type of ways. That’s how I take it, that’s respect at the end of the day.”
The reigning MVP didn’t let his injury waver his confidence either, explaining the team’s mindset entering every game.
“We always have confidence going into any game – no matter who we’re playing,” Mahomes said. “We knew Jacksonville had a very good defense. They played us really well last year, so we really prepared ourselves to do what we could to have success on the field…now it’s off to Oakland and they’re going to have a really good defense as well. So, we’re excited for the opportunity to go out there and play that game.”
The Chiefs know that everyone in the league is gunning for them, and they seem prepared for whatever comes their way.