On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a long- awaited battle of Super Bowl hopefuls, emerging with a 27-24 victory. For most of the first half, the game looked like a one-sided affair — but by the end of the game, it gave neutral fans the excitement they were craving.
Here are three big takeaways from the game:
Patrick Mahomes played his best game to date
Buddy.— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) November 29, 2020
It doesn’t get any better. pic.twitter.com/8PhTPzZKYD
It’s hard to point to one game of Patrick Mahomes’ career and call it his best; you can probably ask any five Chiefs fans and get three or four different answers. But from opening kickoff to final whistle, this one may take the cake. Not only is the stat line — 37/49, 462 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions — gaudy (and with plenty left on the bone), Mahomes’ control over the game was phenomenal. His placement of the ball, handling of constant pressure (thanks to a leaky offensive line) and command over the final drive was near perfect. This was quintessential game that only Mahomes can pull off to this level. The final score simply doesn’t do it justice.
Good luck to the NFL handling this offense
Ball tracking ☑️— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) November 29, 2020
Body control ☑️
Deuces ✌️ ✌️ pic.twitter.com/biWspENYtT
Travis Kelce has been a tear all season — so much so that I’ve even called for him to garner legitimate consideration as this season’s Offensive Player of the Year. Despite a a failed touchdown pass, he continued that pace. But the star receiver of this game was Tyreek Hill, who collected 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns while dealing with predominantly single coverage for the first time all season. Hill’s target share has taken an uptick over these last few weeks — and now he’s the NFL leader in receiving yards and touchdowns. He’s showing the rest of the NFL that one-on-one, he’s entirely unguardable. The Chiefs will have to remind teams about this every now and then. It will help Kelce thrive over the middle — and will ultimately make this offense unstoppable against any defense.
The defense needs someone to step up
For the second week in a row, the defense struggled to slow down an opposing offense. Early in the game, Steve Spagnuolo’s pressure packages were hitting home; the defense looked great. But then Tom Brady caught up, finding a way to consistently challenge the Chiefs’ linebackers and safeties — and also hit a few big plays against the cornerbacks on the outside. Last year, the Chiefs defense went as far as their safeties and defensive line could take them — which was the Super Bowl. This year, both units are struggling as the high-priced Frank Clark and Chris Jones have trouble getting home, Juan Thornhill continues to have difficulty with run fits from deep (and general angles to the football) and Daniel Sorensen remains a coverage liability against better athletes. Tyrann Mathieu finally had a big game pulling in one of two interceptions — and getting the pressure that led to Bashaud Breeland’s pick — but the Chiefs need consistency right now. If the Chiefs want to repeat as champions, their pass rushers and safeties need to step up to help cover some less-invested positions — or this season, it will once again be 100% on the offense to get it done.
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