The Kansas City Chiefs came away with a 35-31 win on Sunday Night Football against the Las Vegas Raiders — and though it was certainly not the dominant performance we were expecting, it served as a reminder that Kansas City is never out of a football game so long as Patrick Mahomes is its quarterback, and Andy Reid is coaching him.
Not so long ago, a Kansas City football team down three points with one timeout and less than two minutes to go would have been fortunate to send that game to overtime. Now, with Mahomes and Reid, there is a sense of danger surrounding scoring too fast against the Chiefs. If we know it, so too do the Chiefs and their opponents.
The case is being made before our eyes more and more each week — in my opinion, the Chiefs have the league’s top quarterback, head coach, tight end and wide receiver. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are not only talented in their own right; they also offer a symbiosis with Mahomes to be in the right place at the right time. You can’t explain it unless you watch it, and if you watch it enough, you grow to expect it.
The dynamic trio had 19 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday night.
The downside to being so good on that side of the football is that it might be easy to ignore the dose of reality on the other side. The Chiefs championship-winning 2019 defense had its struggles until halftime of Week 11 — when it seemed to finally turn the corner in a Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
From that point forward, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit seemed to become the strength it talked about becoming in the offseason — a reason the Chiefs won games down the stretch leading into the bye week, playoffs and Super Bowl win.
Well... Week 11 of 2020 just happened, and there has been little sign of such a turnaround.
Carr had been sacked multiple times in five games this season, yet the Chiefs could only manage one sack their first time around — and on Sunday night, Carr nearly went untouched, with Chris Jones being the only player who registered as much as a hit. A player who threw for 111, 165 and 154 yards in the three games leading into the matchup showed no fear all night, passing for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
This was supposed to be the perfect setup for a Chiefs’ defensive rebound — gone was the chance that Kansas City could be caught off guard, L’Jarius Sneed — a key reinforcement — was arriving, and a week off their feet meant the Chiefs defense would be fresh for some Raiders’ revenge.
But that did not happen — and though it did not cost the Chiefs against the Raiders, it almost did... again. The pressure stands to be better, the coverage stands to be better and the tackling stands to be better.
Mahomes and his cast so often serve as the “ultimate fixers” — but with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 10-0 and only one AFC bye to be had, every Sunday matters all the more.
Are we running it back to 2019 — or 2018?