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Chiefs vs. Giants Instabreakdown: Offense struggles while defense stays solid

It was an ugly win for Kansas City, but the team evened its record at 4-4.

NFL: New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 20, New York Giants 17

Offense (Talon Graff)

Tyreek Hill was a huge part of the offensive game plan; he was targeted early and often. Against Tennessee Titans in Week 7, Hill’s output was low for his standards, so it seemed as if the coaching staff was set on getting him involved. They used him all over the field — and it was effective. He finished with 12 receptions for 94 yards and caught Mahomes' lone touchdown pass of the day. His longest reception of the day was 15 yards — which goes to show that Hill can still change a game without blowing the roof off a defense.

Kansas City leaned on the running game more often, too. With running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire still unavailable, Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore carried the load. Williams was the leading rusher with 49 yards on 13 carries; Gore was right behind with 48 yards on 11 rushing attempts — and the game’s only rushing touchdown.

Patrick Mahomes continued to struggle and looked inaccurate on multiple throws. He threw his tenth interception of the season off a deflection in the end zone. Mahomes did do a better job at taking the easy play, checking it down to Darrel Williams on a number of plays, connecting with him on six passes for 61 yards. It was far from perfect, but improvements were made — and were noticeable.

Recent;y, Travis Kelce has looked banged-up. He still made a few plays against the Giants but finished with a quiet line of four catches for 27 yards. There is no doubt the physicality of the position has worn Kelce down in 2021; he doesn’t appear to be 100%. The bye week — still five weeks away — cannot come soon enough.

The offensive line looked good in the ground game, opening lanes for Williams and Gore. There were a few instances when the ball carriers were met behind the line-of-scrimmage so there will be some cleanup duty in the film room. With Mike Remmers out, Lucas Niang got the start at right tackle. Mahomes was sacked twice.

The most troubling stat of the night was the penalties the Chiefs racked up: 12 flags for 103 yards. That — and turning the ball over — is a great way to lose games. With Mahomes’ pick, Kelce’s fumble and the penalties, the Chiefs were lucky to win.

Offensive Player of the Game: Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill

Hill was back to his old ways; there was a bit with the electricity emanating from him every time the ball was in his hands. Hill provided the spark that the offense needed — and while the running game was pivotal, Hill’s heavy utilization shows how the coaching staff’s trust in him.

Defense (Bryan Stewart)

For perhaps the third straight game, the Kansas City defense was the superior unit on Monday night. Quality of opponent most definitely played a role in that — but the biggest component was once again the young linebacker duo of Willie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton. Regardless of Anthony Hitchens’ health status, Gay and Bolton have earned the right to remain the team’s primary second-level defenders. Their skill sets just work together very well. The two combined for 20 total tackles — 11 for Bolton and 9 for Gay.

At first glance, applying pressure on Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones came a little easier than it has in recent weeks for the Chiefs’ defensive front. Chris Jones and Frank Clark closed out the football game with a sack for each player which was good to see. The team finished with three sacks total; Derrick Nnadi also notched one.

Outside of some struggles in coverage for safety Daniel Sorensen, things were pretty quiet on the back end of the Kansas City defense. John Ross was the only Giants’ wide receiver to eclipse 26 receiving yards tonight, finishing with 72 yards of his own (50 of which came on the long completion over Sorensen).

The Giants finished just 4-of-12 on third downs, putting the Chiefs’ defense right about in the success range they hope to achieve for those scenarios. In three red-zone trips, the Chiefs surrendered two touchdowns.

Defensive Player of the Game: Willie Gay Jr.

Early in the game after Mahomes’ and the offense turned the football over down in the end zone, Gay Jr. helped the team bounce back quickly with an interception in zone coverage — his second in as many weeks.

He also helped create a pivotal stop in a short-yardage situation later on in the matchup. Gay Jr. is providing a level of explosiveness and speed the Chiefs have not had at the linebacker position for a long, long time. Here’s to hoping he can remain healthy — and that the defense can keep putting together solid performances. Given the current state of the offense, they are going to need to do just that.