The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens 34-20 o itn Monday night, bringing their season record to 3-0 — and raising the spirits of Chiefs fans who have been feeling dejected after the overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2.
Here are five things we learned from the game:
1. The Chiefs were wise to sign Mike Remmers in the offseason
Like death and taxes, injuries to NFL offensive linemen are an unavoidable part of life. When left guard Andrew Wylie was injured last season, the Chiefs had a solid player waiting in reserve. Longtime veteran Stefen Wisniewski not only filled in for Wylie, but also worked his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season — and stayed there throughout the championship run.
So when Wylie — now the starter at right guard because Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 season — turned up sick as he arrived at M&T Stadium late on Monday afternoon, it was Mike Remmers’ turn to step in.
It’s a point we’ve made before, but it bears repeating. Back when the Chiefs were on the outside looking in, it always seemed like marquee players automatically gravitated to Super Bowl contenders — the star pass rushers and pass-catchers all wanted a chance to play for a championship team and a star quarterback. And to some extent, that’s true.
But the real Patrick Mahomes Effect is the team’s ability to get blue-collar veterans like Remmers, who can provide the solid depth that championship teams must have — and do it on very inexpensive contracts signed toward the end of their careers.
2. The Chiefs are Kryptonite to Lamar Jackson
I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that Jackson really hails from a distant planet, possessing superpowers far beyond mortal men — or that if this were true, waving a bar of a mineral from his home planet at him would instantly turn him into a myopic, mild-mannered newspaper reporter.
But something weird is going on.
We’re talking about a small sample size here — just three games — so we probably shouldn’t get too worked up about it. Seriously, though... the accolades Jackson has been receiving from — well... everybody — haven’t been far off the mark. He might not have been a very good passer during his rookie season, but he’s been getting better — and lately, he’s been tearing it up against the rest of the NFL’s teams.
But somehow, the Chiefs always seem to be able to keep him in check. As our Matt Stagner very wisely noted on Sunday night, holding the reigning NFL MVP to 97 yards passing essentially means that it doesn’t matter if he rushed for 83 yards.
I can’t explain it. But whatever the Chiefs are doing... they should keep doing it.
3. Everything eventually comes back into fashion
Well... maybe not everything. Hopefully no one will ever make a modern fashion statement with those orange brocade Nehru jackets again — if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re very lucky — but it’s true that good ideas eventually come back around.
That’s why Chiefs head coach Andy Reid reached back to a successful play used by a legendary coach in the 1940s to stun everybody during Super Bowl LIV last February — and then on Monday night, paid tribute to a legendary Chiefs coach and an unlikely hero.
Maybe you’re not old enough to remember the Joe Valerio Era. A center drafted out of Pennsylvania in the 1991 NFL draft, Valerio played for the Chiefs from 1992 through 1996. His career was entirely forgettable — except for one thing: he had good hands. So Chiefs head coach Marty Schotteneimer liked to have him report eligible in goal-to-go situations — and then have Joe Montana throw him the ball. He was targeted four times over his last three seasons with the Chiefs, resulting in four touchdown catches.
So when Nick Allegretti came in as an extra blocker for a goal-line play in the fourth quarter, the Ravens naturally assumed the Chiefs would run to that side. Instead, Fisher shed his blocker, stepped into the end zone and caught the first pass of his career — for a touchdown.
So here’s to Marty Schottenheimer, my old friend Joe Valerio — and Andy Reid, who never misses a chance to make something old new again. And hey... way to go, Big Fish!
4. Amazing streaks always come to an end
Someday, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will lose a game in September. Someday, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will win a game against Mahomes. Someday, the NFL’s regular-season passing leader will win a Super Bowl.
But so far, none of those things have happened. We just know that eventually, they will happen.
We had to say goodbye to one such streak on Monday night, as the Ravens’ rookie wide receiver Devin Duvernay returned a Chiefs kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. It may seem hard to believe, but ever since Dave Toub became special teams coordinator of the Chiefs in 2013, that had never happened.
Some Chiefs fans have had enough of Toub. They feel that he’s lost his touch — and that it’s time for him to go. In the coming days, the fact that this ridiculous streak of success in covering kickoffs has ended will be used to support their view.
If you’re one of them, I’m going to ask you to slow your roll a little. It’s not a coincidence that this happened after the league modified its kickoff rules, making receiving teams prefer to simply let kickoffs bounce into the end zone for touchbacks. Toub has simply recognized that things have substantially changed; he’s just trying to find ways to get the best advantage. Harrison Butker has spoken about the Chiefs working on shorter kickoffs with longer hang times — kicks that will tempt returners into trying a return against the typically-overwhelming Chiefs kickoff coverage.
In other words, the special-teams unit is hoping to tempt a returner into taking a kick at the 5-yard line and then get smothered at the 15 — forcing their offense into having to gain another 10 yards.
In the world of special teams, that’s a big win. There’s a risk, of course: they could gain 20 or more yards on the return, giving the offense better field position — or even a touchdown. So this time, Toub gambled — and lost.
I’m sad that the streak has come to an end. But I appreciate that Toub is always trying to find ways to gain those extra few yards of field position. Besides... until another team returns a punt for a touchdown against Toub’s Chiefs units — something else that has never happened — Uncle Dave should stay right where he is.
5. The Chiefs haven’t won anything... yet
I’m always a little suspicious of most-anticipated-game-of-the-regular-season narratives that take place before the first half of the season has concluded. (Full disclosure: I believe I have typed that phrase a couple of dozen times in the last week, so go figure). Until the season is about halfway gone, it’s just too difficult to separate the good NFL teams from the not-so-good ones.
Just the same... it’s entirely possible that this Chiefs victory will figure prominently in the playoff calculations we make in December. And no matter which team you’re playing, it’s always better to walk out of the stadium with that golden “W.” But there’s still a long way to go — and in the short term, some dangerous teams stand in the Chiefs’ path.
Even without Tom Brady, I’m not prepared to write off the New England Patriots. Even with Derek Carr, I’m not willing to dismiss the Las Vegas Raiders, either. And after those two games stands the one that has scared me the most ever since the schedule was announced: the Buffalo Bills on the road in a short week.
Even with what seemed like a dismal performance against the Chargers in Week 2, the Chiefs still emerged with a win — and now, they’ve defeated a quality opponent in a game whose final score was quite deceptive; the score really was much closer than the game indicated.
There’s lots of football left to play. But so far, the #RunItBack Tour is going very well.