There were seven minutes and four seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Kansas City Chiefs had just taken a 24-14 lead after a fourth-down, 1-yard Patrick Mahomes throw to tight end Noah Gray for the first touchdown of his career.
That is when NBC’s Cris Collinsworth dropped the money line of the night.
“They’re doing what they talked about.”
And that was the story of the Chiefs’ 41-14 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, the win that gave them first place in the AFC West heading into Week 11 of the NFL season. The Chiefs are 6-4, the same record they had through 10 games of the 2019 NFL season.
For weeks — months, even — head coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the offense have been preaching what they needed to do. Reid explained that the Chiefs would have to adjust to shell coverage, that he would have to put the offense in a better position. He needed to balance the offense by running the football more.
Mahomes said he wanted to trust his pocket better and not bail out too soon. He needed to improve his footwork and timing. He had to be more confident in taking what was there in the intermediate areas of the field. That would open up passes downfield.
On Sunday night against the Raiders, the Chiefs did what they have been talking about.
Mahomes looked as comfortable running the offense as he has looked in a long time, finishing 35 of 50 for 406 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Darrel Williams was a focal point, compiling 144 scrimmage yards on 20 touches. That opened up the 10-to-15 range for stars like Tyreek Hill — who had 83 yards and two touchdowns — and Travis Kelce, who brought in eight passes for 119 yards.
The Chiefs ran, shallow crossed, quick-passed, dinked, dunked and hung 40-plus points on the Raiders. For the first time in what has seemed like all season, the ball bounced their way as they built their lead; a couple of plays prior to Noah Gray’s first career touchdown, Hill essentially dribbled the football like a basketball.
Once the Chiefs proved they could score methodically, the big touchdowns came. Wide receiver Byron Pringle brought in a 22-yarder for Mahomes’ fifth on the night.
In a moment when a long DeSean Jackson touchdown could have changed the game, cornerback Rashad Fenton knocked the ball out of his hands. The Chiefs recovered, and any second-half momentum the Raiders may have garnered from the play disappeared as fast as the “wide open” AFC West division.
Fenton’s defensive play of the night came in a game in which Jarran Reed recorded a critical sack and safety Daniel Sorensen brought down an interception.
The Chiefs made Raiders quarterback Derek Carr uncomfortable throughout the night, and their running game was non-existent. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed looks like one of the best tacklers in the game of football. Sans a busted-coverage play in which Bryan Edwards beat linebacker Anthony Hitchens — strangely in coverage — the Chiefs’ defensive efforts matched that of the offense. And that should be the scariest part for the rest of the NFL.
This isn’t just a Mahomes-is-fixed thing; this looked like a Chiefs-are-back thing.
As the fourth quarter winded down, FOX Sports’ Nick Wright put it nicely. One team in the AFC has more wins than the 6-4 Chiefs — the Tennessee Titans.
After half of a season where the Chiefs defense was called the worst in football and the Chiefs offense had its worst month since Mahomes was drafted, here’s the complete list of AFC teams that have more wins than the Chiefs:— nick wright (@getnickwright) November 15, 2021
Feel free to say it, Chiefs fans (for sticking around, you deserve it)...