The Kansas City Chiefs found yet another way to win during a dominating performance over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. It wasn’t the overwhelming running game we saw against Buffalo, but rather some huge plays on defense and special teams that carried a mostly lackluster offensive performance to a 43-16 victory.
Here are a few of the standouts from Week 7:
- Daniel Sorensen: We’ve called him out when he’s struggled in coverage or missed tackles, so it’s only right that he gets top billing when he makes game-changing plays. It wasn’t just his interception return for a touchdown, but also consistently making tackles and hitting with authority. On Sunday, Dirty Dan was the best version of himself.
- Willie Gay Jr.: The rookie made his presence felt with two pass breakups — one of them ending a Denver drive — and a tackle for loss. He’s working his way into the base defense and showing that athletic linebackers who can cover do exist in Kansas City.
- Byron Pringle: We were bullish on Pringle — and he certainly didn’t disappoint against Denver. His 102-yard kickoff return broke the Broncos’ back — and showed that good things happen when returners get straight upfield and use their blockers. We’re still hoping he gets a bigger role on offense, but as long as he continues finding ways to make plays each week, he’s an important part of the team.
- Mecole Hardman: Pringle’s success in the return game coincided with Hardman’s best offensive game of the season. The Chiefs seemed determined to get Hardman involved early, giving him a designed run that went for 13 yards. He finished with only two other catches — but they were significant. One netted 57 yards and featured a beautiful one-handed grab. We should never write off a guy with Hardman’s speed and talent. He’ll certainly have more games — like this one — where he’s a positive factor.
- Dave Toub and Steve Spagnuolo: It’s difficult to give credit to everyone who contributed on defense and special teams, but it was clear that the Chiefs were the better prepared (and more aggressive team) in both defense and special teams in Denver. Drew Lock had no answers for Spagnuolo’s defense, throwing two interceptions and taking three sacks. In addition to his big kickoff return, special teams downed a punt near the goal line and hit three field goals in the snow. The coaches had these guys prepared — and fired up to prove that the offense doesn’t always have to carry the team.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The overall stats weren’t mind-boggling, but this play sure was:
- DeAndre Washington: With Le’Veon Bell making his debut, Washington was active and Darwin Thompson wasn’t. In a situation where Thompson and Darrel Williams have previously been able to churn out some yardage, Washington was given the chance to help close out the game. Unfortunately, Washington gained just seven yards on his four touches.
- The Chiefs on third down: It’s not often that we talk about third-down conversions after a win, but the fact that the Chiefs went 0-8 on plays that could have extended drives could have been a significant problem. There wasn’t one specific reason the Chiefs didn’t convert on third down, but pass protection (four sacks of Mahomes) was part of the issue. The offense should be buying barbecue for the defense and special teams units this week, as you just don’t see teams score 43 points when they can’t convert a third down. Hopefully, this week’s inefficiency was an anomaly.