“I scrambled to the right, kind of to stretch the play out,” Mahomes said. “I peeked [to Kelce] and I see the safety coming up, running at me. Kelce’s wide open.”
Incredibly wide open, actually. The threat of Mahomes’ athleticism to make the first down caused safety Johnathan Abram to abandon Kelce. Middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski was stuck in no man’s land, not sure whether to chase Kelce (he’d have been too late) or to rush Mahomes (useless). Abram must have thought he had help other than Kwiatkowski. But the only help was Arnette, in panic city, leaving Hill to run toward Kelce. No time. Mahomes flicked one to mid-end zone for the easy 22-yard TD to Kelce to win the game. Kansas City 35, Vegas 31. Chiefs 9-1, Raiders 6-4, and the AFC West all but decided with six games to play.
For defenses, this play is the dilemma of the Kansas City offense. Four weapons spread across 45 yards of field near the goal line. If the quarterback was a stationary target, or just moderately mobile, the defense wouldn’t have to spy him. But because Abram had to make a fatal choice—leave Kelce, and it’s a TD; stay with Kelce and it’s at the very least a first-down run, and Mahomes clocks it maybe at the 10-yard line with 20 seconds left. What’s a defense to do?
“That play, that situation,” Mahomes mused in the locker room in Vegas, “those are the moments competitors love. These are the moments you dream of. Honestly, I dreamed of nights like this when I was a kid.”
Winner: Patrick Mahomes’s Inevitability
ESPN’s win probability said the Raiders had an 81 percent chance of winning after the Witten touchdown. But probability meters don’t really know how to handle a version of the NFL where Patrick Mahomes exists. When Witten caught that ball, I never thought, “Oh wow, maybe the Raiders are going to win this game!” I just wondered how long it would take Mahomes to score. The answer was 75 seconds.
It came down to the wire, and for most of the night the Chiefs defense had no answer for Vegas’ balanced attack. Patrick Mahomes also got just a little loosey-goosey in picking his spots. But who are we kidding? Offense wins in today’s NFL, and they’ve got an absolute juggernaut. Even their “bad” drives always have pop. With just over a minute to go, the Chiefs were trailing, but everyone knew they were going to score to retake the lead. And that, friends, is why they remain favorites to repeat.
The Chiefs would hold on to run their record to 9-1 and give themselves a three-game lead over the 6-4 Raiders in the AFC West.
“I’ve got Pat Mahomes,’’ Reid said. “You give me a minute and a half and I’m pretty good right there. We can roll.
“I’d take him over everybody and I’m lucky to have him.’’
Carr and the Raiders’ offense had one final chance with less than a minute to play, but they turned the ball over, sealing the loss. Las Vegas fell to Kansas City, 35-31. The two teams split their regular season series.
Gruden seemed pretty devastated by the loss following the game.
“This is hard to swallow right now,” the Raiders head coach said.
Here’s a look at what the playoff picture looks like Sunday afternoon as the 4:05/4:25 p.m. games move along, and then Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football close out Week 11. You can read through playoff tiebreakers here.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-0
2. Kansas City Chiefs, 9-1
3. Indianapolis Colts, 7-3 (H2H tiebreaker over TEN)
4. Buffalo Bills, 7-3
5. Tennessee Titans, 7-3 (Conference record over CLE)
6. Cleveland Browns, 7-3
7. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-4 (Conference record record over BAL, MIA)
Carr threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns. If not for a blown coverage by the Raiders defense – which led to Mahomes throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Kelce with 28 seconds left in the contest – the Las Vegas quarterback would’ve been the hero.
The Chiefs came into this contest with the 29th-best run defense in the league, but Carr masterfully exploited several other weaknesses, especially Kansas City’s coverage limitations at cornerback and linebacker and its inexplicable lack of a consistent pass rush.
Around the NFL
The initial diagnosis on Burrow’s injury is a torn ACL but there could be additional damage, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports, per a source. An MRI awaits to confirm the full extent of the injury.
The injury came with the pocket collapsing on the rookie QB as he was looking downfield. A group of bodies crashed into his legs just after Burrow got rid of the ball. CBS elected not to show a replay on the broadcast.
Players on both teams knelt as Burrow made his exit through the tunnel and an afflicted tone set in once play resumed. A game was completed — one where Washington scored 13 unanswered points to pull away with the win — but that’s not what was on everyone’s mind as Burrow himself indicated his season was over.
Lamar Jackson is not nearly as effective as he was a year ago, through the air or on the ground. Their scheme isn’t fooling people with any regularity. They seem reluctant to turn the run game over to rookie J.K. Dobbins — though his explosion in spread formations when they run with multiple receivers on the field is the best thing they have going for them. Coordinator Greg Roman has yet to tap into the speed and potential of rookie receiver Devin Duvernay or fully invest in the horizontal passing game. They commit pre-snap procedural penalties at an alarming rate.
The outside vertical passing game does not exist. Over the middle, where they do their best work, it’s all Mark Andrews or Willie Snead. The offensive line is being shuffled and reshuffled seemingly before and during the game the past few weeks, and it’s too early to project that Dez Bryant and Luke Willson — veterans elevated off the practice squad — are going to elevate the passing game.
Carson Wentz was not very good, threw an ugly (and significant) interception that produced a negative outcome for Philadelphia, and his team added another mark in the loss column.
This outcome arrived amid unrelenting rain on a cold Sunday along Lake Erie, which didn’t make the going any easier for Wentz. Neither did an injury to Lane Johnson, and Cleveland’s constant harassment of Wentz, who was pressured 16 times, hit 16 times, sacked five times and posted a passer rating of 41.1 when under duress. Wentz finished with a line of 21-of-35 passing for 235 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a rating of 75.3.
None of this made Eagles coach Doug Pederson consider a change at quarterback.
“You’re sending the wrong message that your season is over,” Pederson said of potentially benching Wentz, via CBS 3’s Pat Gallen. “We have to work through this. When times get tough, that might be easy thing to do.”
A win. A single win.
“Hopefully, we can get one. And I can’t wait until we get it. I’ll be so happy. If it is my last year, I can’t say I’m going out 0-16.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
2. Le’Veon Bell finally stepped up
Ever since the Chiefs acquired Bell five weeks ago, fans have wondered: when are we going to see Bell step up?
It happened on Sunday... but just not in the way we might have expected.
Bell was actually used only sparingly, accumulating just 25 yards (and a touchdown) on seven carries — and catching a single pass for 11 yards. But Bell’s influence was clearly on display in the play of first-round rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Right from Kansas City’s opening drive, Edwards-Helaire was playing like Bell at his very best: patiently waiting for blocks to develop, spinning our of tackles and finding seams. And best of all... he was getting tough yards inside — something with which Edwards-Helaire has had real difficulty this season.
It doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Edwards-Helaire had most of his use (and production) in the first half. He ended up with 69 yards (and two touchdowns) on 14 carries, plus a single reception for eight yards. But here’s the thing: sometimes — if you squinted a little bit — it wasn’t hard to imagine that the 25 on that jersey was actually a 26.
We need to credit Bell for respecting Edward-Helaire’s position on the team before deciding to make Kansas City his new home; it was an incredibly classy move. And now, we need to credit him for being a good influence on his new team’s talented young running back.
We may never get to see the same Le’Veon Bell that terrorized the Chiefs during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And after this season, we probably won’t see him in a Chiefs uniform again. But if Bell’s Kansas City legacy includes being a positive influence on Edwards-Helaire during his rookie season, his signing could end up among the smartest the franchise has ever made.
That was an MVP moment for Patrick Mahomes.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) November 23, 2020