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Chiefs-Washington Instabreakdown: Offense and defense step up

A big second half from the offense and defense leads to a Kansas City win.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 31, Washington Football Team 13

Offense (Ron Kopp)

It was an encouraging start for the Chiefs’ offense, going 95 yards on their first drive and capping it off with a short run by running back Darrel Williams — but after that, the first half was a struggle.

Once again, ball security plagued the unit. A red-zone trip was halted by an interception that bounced off the hands of wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Two potential field-goal attempts towards the end of the first half were erased by wide receiver Mecole Hardman’s fumble and quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ incredibly poor decision that led to an interception; he has to understand where they’re at on the field and where they are in the game flow. It’s a blown-up play; take the sack and live with a field goal to lead into halftime.

Mahomes had stretches of really good play on Sunday, but there were still spurts of bad pocket presence, being late to checkdowns — and the interceptions. In the second half, he began to look like his old self: creating plays out of structure, putting the ball only where his receiver has could get it — and looking confident in the process.

The tight ends had a great day from the start: the first touchdown was set up by a jump-ball catch by Jody Fortson over safety Landon Collins to get to the 1-yard line. Travis Kelce racked up four catches for 70 yards in the first down. It sucked to see Fortson go out with a non-contact injury — but the unit as a whole totaled nine catches for 126 yards.

Hardman had an impressive catch early in the game, beating the cornerback vertically to the outside and catching an accurate pass from Mahomes; he created last-minute separation from the defender to gain 49 yards on a third down. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had a similarly impressive play to seal the game; he beat cornerback William Jackson III off the snap on an outside vertical, creating huge separation to get wide open for a score.

Running back Darrel Williams received the bulk of the carries, taking 21 of the 24 running back carries — producing 62 yards; his best run came on an 11-yard gain, where he showed noteworthy explosiveness through the hole. On a screen reception in the third quarter, Williams impressively avoided two tackles on his way to 13 yards. Jerick McKinnon had an important catch in the first quarter; he took a dump-off pass, broke multiple tackles, and barely earned a first down to convert on third down in the red zone.

The run blocking had its fair share of impressive plays, helping Williams drive into the end zone on each touchdown run — but it wasn’t as efficient as we’ve seen it at times this year. Right tackle Mike Remmers did an admirable job filling in for Lucas Niang. There were a few leaks in pass protection, but that’s to be expected against such a talented defensive front.

Offensive Player of the Game: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes

With no skill positions truly having an incredible day, I want to praise Mahomes for bouncing back from a very ugly first half; he showed the same uncomfortable manner of maneuvering the pocket that we’ve seen in spurts this season — but he didn’t let it kill his confidence; he kept playing the only way he knows how, which turned into important completions and a season-high in passing yards (397). Mahomes and the offense stayed true to themselves, which allowed them to stretch the lead late in the contest.

Defense (Talon Graff)

Outside of one big scoring play to former Chief Ricky Seals-Jones, the defense played much better than they have all year. Even though Chris Jones was unable to go, the defense only gave up 94 yards on the ground. Nick Bolton continues to impress and he led the team in tackles with nine. The front seven took over the line of scrimmage in the second half, limiting Washington to almost no production.

There were a couple of close calls in the first half when Washington missed on a couple of deep shots that were defended by Rashad Fenton and L’Jarius Sneed. The change made at the safety spot proved to be the right one; Juan Thornhill had a solid day as the starter with three tackles and good coverage.

The pass rush came alive in the latter part of the game — and even though they weren’t able to register any sacks on Taylor Heinicke, there were times he was flushed out of the pocket due to pressure from the Chiefs. Mike Danna has been the most consistent defensive lineman for Kansas City all season. His play shined again on Sunday, highlighted by a forced fumble that was recovered by Sneed. The play of the game came late when the pride of Missouri S&T — Tershawn Wharton — plucked a pass out of the air and wrangled it in for an interception that essentially sealed the game.

The entire defense played well and shut down the Washington offense in the second half, holding them scoreless. The offensive side of the ball for Washington isn’t breaking any records, but they have some legitimate playmakers. Running back Antonio Gibson and wide receiver Terry McLaurin — both of them banged up — were held in check throughout the game.

This was a good performance to build upon. Chris Jones makes the team better so getting him back for the Tennessee Titans in Week 7 is pretty important. Seeing younger guys like Danna and Wharton step up and make plays is encouraging. The key for this defense moving forward is making sure everyone is in the right spot to make the best play possible. Limiting the big plays — and keeping everything in front of them — are the top priorities.

Defensive Player of the Game: Defensive End Mike Danna

Danna has been the fuel to the defense lately; good things just seem to happen when he’s in the game. He is around the play most of the time — and like today, usually comes up with some highlights. He finished with two tackles, a pass deflection and the forced fumble.