From rock bottom
At the time of Patrick Mahomes’ second-quarter interception — the one in which the snap was fumbled and he made what was likely the worst turnover of his career — it felt as if the Kansas City Chiefs had hit rock bottom.
And perhaps, they did — and now it is only up from there.
Both the offense and defense began the day well with a touchdown and three-and-out, respectively, before seemingly all the problems that the given units have had throughout 2021 reared their ugly head.
On offense — for the second week in a row — wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a ball bounce off his hands and into those of a defender. The Chiefs had two additional turnovers — including the aforementioned interception in which Mahomes tried to do too much, and another when Mecole Hardman fumbled the ball away. Even with the win, the Chiefs now lead the league with 14 turnovers.
On defense, the Chiefs gave up a third-and-16 and soon after an explosive play in which two Washington pass-catchers were wide open down the field behind the final Chiefs’ defender. On the play, Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke chose tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who earned a little revenge with the touchdown. Safety Tyrann Mathieu completely lost it and called out the entire defense on the sideline.
At the break, the Chiefs actually trailed the Washington Football Team.
But after a three-and-out to start the half, we began to see the Chiefs we remember — the team that has gone to three straight AFC title games, winning two of them and a Super Bowl. It started with Mahomes and running back Darrel Williams.
In the absence of starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Williams filled in quite admirably, compiling 21 carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns on the day. In all four quarters, the Chiefs were a better team when they gave Williams early-down touches, which opened up the passing game — and allowed Mahomes to be Mahomes.
And for the first time in while, Mahomes did look like Mahomes.
The quarterback had several vintage passes (Can we say that for a 26-year-old?) in which he showcased the rare arm talent to which no other quarterback comes. Travis Kelce — who was beat up all day — became his go-to target for eight receptions and 99 yards. Then Tyreek Hill got going. Hill, in his own right, fought his way through a quad injury to accumulate 76 yards and a key touchdown.
Leading 24-13, Mahomes put together a 15-play drive and threw a 24-yard touchdown dagger to Demarcus Robinson. The offense turned the ball over three times yet still put up more than 30 points, again.
Lineup changes and defense
The lineup changes were refreshing. Defensive backs Rashad Fenton and safety Juan Thornhill looked to breathe new life into a defense that finally was able to sometimes sustain quarterback pressure in the game. Veteran right tackle Mike Remmers — filling in for Lucas Niang — played well on an offensive line that got better as the game went along.
With linebacker Anthony Hitchens having to leave the game, Ben Niemann did a nice job making the calls, while rookie Nick Bolton flashed in his ability to sniff out Washington screen attempts. Defensive end Mike Danna — who has been the best lineman for the Chiefs this year — forced a fumble that Sneed picked up.
Defensive tackle Turk Wharton may have made the play of the season to essentially seal the game in the fourth quarter, intercepting a pass while he was engaged with a blocker.
Football can be fickle sometimes. Throughout the course of the game, it is easy to feel a number of different ways. Kansas City didn’t play well for much of the game on Sunday — yet they got out of Washington with a 31-13 win.
The Chiefs hit rock bottom on Sunday before crawling their way out and then running into a blowout.
They needed it.