One of the biggest question marks heading into the Week 6 contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was the stability of the Chiefs’ offensive line. They placed starting left guard Kelechi Osemele on IR this week, and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz appeared on the injury report with a back injury.
Then, the Chiefs decided to make a change to the lineup with veteran center Daniel Kilgore taking the starting snaps over normal starter Austin Reiter. After Schwartz’s back pain forced him to leave the game early, the Chiefs had a new-look offensive line with three new starters.
Left tackle Eric Fisher, left guard Nick Allegretti, center Daniel Kilgore, right guard Andrew Wylie and right tackle Mike Remmers went on to manhandle the Bills’ defensive front and help create 245 team rushing yards on 45 total carries. The team won 26-17, and both statistics were the most in any game of head coach Andy Reid’s career in Kansas City.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes saluted the effort of his five-man protection — who only allowed one sack and four quarterback hits.
“I think the offensive line really took it personally upon themselves — the light boxes that we’d been facing and the pressure was given up last week — they took that personally this week and you saw it today,” Mahomes explained to reporters in his post-game press conference. “They gave good holes for (running back) Clyde [Edwards-Helaire] to run through. We had to shuffle those guys around and guys stepped up and Clyde really hit it and finished runs well.”
It was a big day for the rookie running back. Edwards-Helaire finished with 161 rushing yards on 26 carries — an average of 6.2 yards per rush. It is a new career-high for the first-round selection. He acknowledged that his individual effort wasn’t the only factor in his performance.
“They made everything easier for me,” Edwards-Helaire said of his offensive line. “Ultimately, it’s not just me this is a career day for — it’s the entire offensive line... When you have days like this, things just seemed to part like the red sea, and that’s what the offensive line did. I just put my head down and ran. When it was time to make a guy miss or time to run through a guy, I did my job, and that fires up the offensive line. I’m just doing my 1/11th.”
The Chiefs social media account jumped on Edwards-Helaire’s analogy of the line’s performance.
The o-line tonight pic.twitter.com/PSBo8B9Pse— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 20, 2020
Mahomes was playing behind an offensive line that had three players that didn’t start for the team last week. Despite the change, he was encouraged by their performance.
“Allegretti coming in and stepping up and playing his tail off and blocking really well in the run game and pass game,” Mahomes began. “Remmers who just came in this last week at guard and then moving to tackle behind where Schwartz is usually at and then really stepping up and doing a great job there. Those guys are really prepared well. (Brett) Veach does a great job of getting a lot of great guys in that room and coach (Andy) Heck coaches them up really well. I thought they did a tremendous job... ‘I’m proud of those guys and I have full trust in those guys going forward.”
The offensive line looked as strong as it had all season — but context is important. The Bills had three key players from their defensive front absent for this game: defensive end Trent Murphy, linebacker Matt Milano and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. That being said, Buffalo’s top talent was still on the field — and the Chiefs’ front controlled the line of scrimmage all game.
Andy Reid always preaches a next-man-up mentality, and his team exemplified it once again during their fifth win of the season. After the run blocking’s best showing of the year, the “next man up” is running back Le’Veon Bell — who has to be feeling good about his new team’s performance.