The Kansas City Chiefs improved to 10-1 with their 27-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after first-half fireworks threatened to rewrite the record books. Unfortunately, second-half sloppiness made this one closer than it should have been. Hopefully, the next time the Chiefs visit this city, they’ll finish a little stronger.
Here are a few Chiefs who stood out on Sunday afternoon in Tampa:
- Tyreek Hill: The game started with two 20-plus-yard passes to Hill, then a 75-yard touchdown. The Buccaneers had no chance against the combination of Patrick Mahomes and Hill. In the first quarter alone, the wide receiver caught seven targets for 203 yards and two touchdowns. In one quarter, Hill had the best full-game receiving performance in the NFL this season. The game came to a poetic ending as Hill converted the Chiefs final first down as well.
- Patrick Mahomes: A monster start propelled Mahomes to an impressive game stat line: 462 yards and three touchdowns. But he also is now officially on the all-time quarterback rankings after his 1,500th attempt, and the numbers speak for themselves. He’s on track to be the greatest of all time, and he helped beat the previous guy with a dominant performance on Sunday.
- Travis Kelce: It’s getting repetitive at this point, as Kelce put up another solid performance with eight catches, 82 yards, and many of them on third down. He’s now second in the league behind only Tyreek Hill in receiving yardage. These three are basically unstoppable. The Buccaneers finally started doubling both of them in an attempt to slow them down. There’s not another wide receive-tight end combination in the league that commands that type of respect — yet performs anyway.
- Bashaud Breeland: He’s quietly been very good this season after returning from suspension. Against the Buccaneers, he had two outstanding pass breakups and an interception. The Chiefs suddenly have three good corners heading into the stretch run. Breeland may still be the best on the team, and he is certainly a bargain on his current contract.
- Anthony Hitchens: Another contributor on Steve Spagnuolo’s defense this season has been Hitchens. He had a critical tackle for loss that held the Buccaneers to a field goal, and two hits on Tom Brady.
- Kicking with one foot to go: Mahomes was right; you go for those, period. In the first seven minutes of the game, the Chiefs kicked a field goal and punted — each time with a foot to go to convert. These were big momentum swings that were factors in this game being closer than it had to be.
- Chiefs offensive line: Edwards-Helaire was running into a brick wall of Buccaneers defenders, and Mahomes took too many hits, including one that led to a sack-fumble in the red zone. That play was a big swing early in this game. Instead of having a chance to be up 24-0, the Buccaneers promptly scored to make it 17-7. The next time in the red zone, Mahomes ran for his life and threw it away three times in a row. It would end up being a theme of the night, as the guys up front were just not good enough.
- Disciplined football: The penalties completely went off the rails in the second half. On one offensive drive, they had three holding penalties. Then on one defensive drive, there were two Frank Clark roughing-the-passer calls. This game should have been a blowout, and it was largely the sloppy play by the Chiefs in the second half that kept the Buccaneers alive.
- Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts: There were other culprits, but key mistakes by these two led directly to touchdowns for Tampa Bay. Sorensen missed a tackle of Ronald Jones as he tiptoed down the sideline for a score. Watts was late to help Charvarius Ward, leading to a Mike Evans touchdown. The safety position group is a mysterious one after Tyrann Mathieu this season. Let’s hope Juan Thornhill is healthy and himself by the time the playoffs start.