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Chiefs might have brought ‘NBA energy’ back to 2021 season

With one play (that didn’t count), Kansas City may have re-found its swagger.

New Orleans Pelicans v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Energy... an incredibly difficult word to describe in non-scientific terms.

Sitting in Arrowhead Stadium, you can feel it in the crowd. One of my favorite memories as a Chiefs fan is the 2019 Divisional Round against the Houston Texans. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman returned a kick nearly 70 yards before being forced out of bounds. He then flexed, and the entire bench and crowd could feel it. They could feel how things were about to change. The Chiefs took that energy and turned it into 51 straight points.

This is what makes teams fear the Chiefs — that unstoppable energy.

Throughout the 2020 season, the Chiefs never played what felt like the perfect game. Drives would stall, the defense would allow a score and the game would tighten for a second – but then the big-energy play would come and the Chiefs offense turned into an avalanche, scoring quickly with all of their playmakers — and then the defense getting stop after stop. Before the opposition knew what happened, the game was out of reach.

For this Chiefs team – energy has been missing. The Chiefs haven't been perfect in any game, but that avalanche hasn't happened in any game. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid spoke after the loss to the Bills that he looks forward to seeing this team play complementary football: when both the offense and defense can stack great possessions on top of each other to create that unstoppable juggernaut.

Against the Washington Football Team, I think we saw the first glimpse of that missing energy, and it gives me hope that this single play will fuel the turnaround we are all hoping for.

It's the play that won't show up in the box score because of offsetting penalties:

It was midway through the fourth quarter, and the Chiefs were up 24-13, looking to close the door of any possible comeback. With the ball at midfield, Mahomes scrambled back away from a looping rusher. After a quick pirouette to evade the defender, Mahomes sprints back to line of scrimmage and fires across his body to a sprinting Tyreek Hill running across the field, hitting him in stride.

Hill races up the left sideline and comes to a complete stop to let the chasing defender run right past him. Hill looks back before gaining a few more yards and eventually steps out of bounds.

Here is the best view of the clip:

This play is downright disrespectful.

The Chiefs have had a documented history of loving basketball in the locker room and have been compared to the Golden State Warriors in the past. This play had the swagger of an NBA highlight.

Let's start with the first part of it. Mahomes takes the snap from the 49-yard line, and a looping defensive end gets around the offensive line. He scrambles backward nearly to the 30-yard line doing a quick spin, causing the rushing defender to get twisted up and fall to his knees.

Stephen Curry has done this to many defenders over the years, making unbelievable plays.

To the second part.

After shaking the defender, Mahomes uses his incredible arm strength to rifle the ball across the field. Mahomes is standing on the Chiefs' 45 between the numbers and the sideline, and the ball is caught on the left hash of the 35-yard line. Doing some math, that's a 35-yard pass through the air to a receiver that is not on the screen.

The confidence to make that throw is the same confidence that Curry shows when he shoots a deep three-pointer and then looks away before it's even made.

Now, the final part.

Hill races down the Chiefs' sideline before coming to a complete stop and letting the defender run past him. Hill looks back at the fallen defender before gaining a few more yards and stepping out of bounds. It is unfair to any defender to have to guard and tackle the fastest player in the league who can stop on a dime — and then disrespectfully look at you during a live play.

Another NBA trademark. After stepping out of bounds, linebacker Willie Gay and cornerback Deandre Baker are hollering and mocking Washington defenders.

As mentioned, this play never counted because of offsetting penalties, but it will be one I'll never forget. This play gave the entire team energy.

The drive concluded seven plays later with a 24-yard strike from Mahomes to Demarcus Robinson. On the very next drive, the defense caused a turnover on a great play from Tershawn Wharton to essentially end the game. After the game, Andy Reid commented on how the entire team ran down to celebrate with Wharton after the pick.

The team had been missing some of its "championship swagger" through the first part of the season, but we caught a glimpse of it during this game. They will need to carry that same energy next week against the Tennessee Titans and throughout the rest of the season to reach the goals they have set for themselves.