We’re looking at the key mile markers in the Kansas City Chiefs’ road to Miami.
It’s been a long, difficult path for this team to attain heights they haven’t reached in 50 years. We’re profiling the biggest stories along the way to Super Bowl LIV.
The Matt Moore Era
After Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne fractured his ankle during a preseason game — ironically against the San Francisco 49ers — head coach Andy Reid wanted to replace the former Miami Dolphins quarterback with another veteran who could be a sounding board for Patrick Mahomes in the quarterback room.
He called another former Dolphins quarterback — one who hadn’t even been in the league the previous season: 35-year-old Matt Moore.
When Reid called, Moore was already dialed-in to life after the NFL, coaching high school players in his California home town; it didn’t take much to convince him to come to Kansas City and back up the reigning league MVP.
Of course, the plan is always for the backup quarterback to remain on the sideline; you don’t ever want them to have to come in to a game. But unfortunately, Moore was thrust into duty when Mahomes dislocated his kneecap in the second quarter of the team’s Week 7 game against the Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs were leading 10-6 when Moore stepped on the field in Denver. He led the offense well enough to put 20 additional points on the board, closing out a 30-6 rout against a division rival.
Then came his first start against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.
The design and execution across the board was so great here. Closed formation, Packers in man.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 30, 2019
Fake to DRob, then to Hill takes both corners away. Watkins attacks MOF safety and takes Tremon Williams with him. Excellent timing by Kelce on delay release. Great touch by Moore. pic.twitter.com/NKUXmmLT90
Moore played well, completing 24 of 36 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. But with defensive linemen Chris Jones and Frank Clark out due to injury, the Chiefs were at a disadvantage. Moore was able to keep the team in the game, but ultimately the absence of defensive talent was too much. The team fought hard, but ultimately lost 31-24.
It wasn’t an ideal time for Mahomes to be out with an injury. After that tough loss on national television, the Chiefs had to play a hot Minnesota Vikings team that had won four straight games — and was improving offensively.
Moore played another sound game, completing 25 of 35 for 275 yards and a touchdown — and displaying a willingness to hang in and deliver tough throws from the pocket. While it wasn’t always pretty, Moore’s veteran savvy kept him from making the same mistake twice, ultimately helping the Chiefs to get in position for a field goal that secured a 26-23 victory.
Matt Moore got caught on an excellent blitz from MIN on a 3rd and 13 that turned a manageable field goal into a 54 yard one.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 5, 2019
He got caught on late showing double A pressure and fumbled, but recovered. The Vikings are plus one, and he doesn't have an outlet. pic.twitter.com/US4vzWkv8n
Moore redeemed himself on the game winning drive.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 5, 2019
Same front, another 3x1 look. He signals alert for sight adjustment before they show pressure. He's ready for the late A gap blitz.
Hill adjusts, Moore is ready to throw hot and the Chiefs get key yardage on the game winning FG. pic.twitter.com/71r3ufEZvj
If you had suggested to any Chiefs fan back in early August that Matt Moore would be one of the keys in a Chiefs Super Bowl run, they would have laughed in your face. He went from completely off the radar to leading the team to wins. You can’t tell the story of the 2019 Chiefs without the steady presence of a recently-retired quarterback who helped the Chiefs steal a win from a playoff team — without which the team could not have earned a postseason bye week.
Without Mahomes, the team also began to show its true colors. You never want your star player to miss time, but the win against the Vikings was one of the moments where people began to realize the defense really was different — and that the team had the kind of character that could win a championship.
Coming on Wednesday: The last bump in the road on the way to the Super Bowl.