What to know: The Chiefs remain in first place in the AFC West with their overtime win over the Chargers — and now own the No. 1 seed in the conference. Kansas City is a game up on New England and Tennessee for the top spot in the conference.
Remaining schedule: vs. Steelers, at Bengals, at Broncos
Note to all “the @Chiefs are dead” folks from their days of being 1-2, 2-3 and 3-4:— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) December 19, 2021
Your lone 10-win team in and 1-seed of the AFC entering the final 3 weeks of the season is your Kansas City #Chiefs, winners of a current NFL-best 7 in a row.
Chiefs Fans today: “Thank you, Steelers!”— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) December 19, 2021
Chiefs Fans tomorrow: “——- the Steelers!”
It’s absolutely in play that not only will the Chiefs be the #1 seed, but if Buffalo can beat the Pats next week, the Chiefs could clinch the 1 seed with a week to go & be able to rest guys in Week 18!— nick wright (@getnickwright) December 19, 2021
5. AN UNLIKELY INTERCEPTION: “I WASN’T LETTING IT GO”
You needed a replay to figure out exactly what just happened here. Chiefs defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton had really only intended to bat down a pass from Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke, but he did a little more than that.
When he got his hand on the football, he managed to pin it between offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas’s helmet and shoulder pads. Wharton never lost concentration on the football, and fought to secure the most unlikely of interceptions.
Chiefs DT Tershawn Wharton with arguably the best interception by a defensive lineman you’ll ever see. Whew. pic.twitter.com/4NRIprQz4g— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 17, 2021
More important than any on-field accolade or achievement, though, are the contributions of Chiefs players in the community, something that owner Clark Hunt encourages from members of the team on a yearly basis. Hill has been one of their most promising young talents for years now and has recently found his footing in the charitable work he is doing when away from the game. He’s making a tangible impact on the lives of young people in the Kansas City area.
The Tyreek Hill Family Foundation launched its first gala on December 10th, which was attended by several members of the Chiefs offense and local celebrities to help support access to mental healthcare for children.
According to the foundation’s website, the event was an “inspiring night supporting our education and wellness programs” and that “dollars raised will provide children with additional access to mental health resources.” It was emceed by Codie Allen and Zeke Montana who host Wake Up With The Wolf on 106.5 radio, and it featured a VIP cocktail hour with Hill, two different kinds of auctions, fundraising games, and dinner included.
Around the NFL
“I don’t think we were much good at anything tonight,” said Brady after the loss in which he was 26 of 48 for 214 yards with a 57.1 QB rating, an interception and a fumble lost. “I wish it was just one thing. It was a lot of things. We gotta do better in every facet of offensive football to score points. We’re not gonna win scoring no points.”
The Patriots have some talent, but the margin of error is pretty slim against playoff competition — especially on offense.
Shooting yourself in the foot certainly does not help New England’s cause.
Mac Jones is going to make the occasional rookie mistake despite his solid all-around play.
The team does have some strong leadership and plenty of fight in it.
Bill Belichick is going to make the occasional conservative decision.
New England is comfortable making some sacrifices in one area for potential gain in others.
There may be more one-liners such as these, but you get the point. All of that was known heading into Week 15’s matchup with the Colts, and nothing has really changed despite the fashion in which New England lost the primetime showdown.
The Lions held the first selection entering Sunday, but Detroit’s stunning upset of the Cardinals and the Jaguars’ loss to the Texans vaulted Jacksonville from No. 3 to the top of the board. The new top two in the draft order after Sunday’s early games:
The Lions had been in the lead for the No. 1 overall pick basically all season long, having entered December still searching for their first victory. With wins in two of the last three games, Dan Campbell’s squad has surprised both Minnesota and Arizona and made it far less likely it will be making the first pick of the draft for the first time since 2009.
Before Huntley scored with 4:47 left, the Ravens trailed 31-17. The quarterback’s rushing TD brought Baltimore within one score — specifically, eight points. At that moment, Harbaugh elected to kick the extra point, and Justin Tucker converted, making it a seven-point ballgame. Reasonable enough, right? Not if Harbaugh was always planning to go for two with the game on the line.
Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson, another aggressive decision-maker of the Andy Reid coaching tree, made it a habit during his stint in Philadelphia to rationalize going for two when trailing by two scores late in a game: that way, if down by 14 you fail to convert, you can still try a two-pointer to tie later in the contest. Put it this way: had the Ravens gone for two after Huntley’s first rushing TD and failed, they would’ve been down 31-23, with the opportunity to tie things up with a future score and two-pointer.
Had they gone for two and made it, they would’ve been down 31-25 with an opportunity to win the game with just a future score and extra point. Instead, by saving the two-point try for later, they boxed themselves in: one more TD drive was never going to win them the game in regulation unless it included a successful two-point try.
Another Titans turnover on the next drive gave the ball right back to the Pittsburgh offense, this time it was Ryan Tannehill botching a snap which was recovered by T.J. Watt. It was more bad Steelers offense after the interception, and it was another Boswell field goal, this from 48, to make the score 19-13 with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter.
Needing just a touchdown to win the game, the Titans offense continued to put in work vs. the Pittsburgh defense. Ryan Tannehill used his arm and legs to move the ball into Pittsburgh territory, and a huge 4th and 1 conversion at the two-minute warning extended the drive. Facing a 4th and 6, out of timeouts and 44 seconds left in regulation, Tannehill’s pass was stopped short of the line to gain. It turned the ball over on downs, giving the Steelers the victory.
The win moves the Steelers’ record to 7-6-1 on the season, and their playoff hopes alive, as they now prepare for a road trip to Kansas City to play the Chiefs in Week 16. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they press on throughout the regular season.
Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will remain overnight in a Denver-area hospital after sustaining a head injury during the third quarter of Sunday’s 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Bridgewater had movement in all of his extremities and would be kept overnight “for observation.’’
“Everything has checked out good up to this point,’’ Fangio said. “They think he should be and will be fine.”
Asked if Bridgewater had sustained a concussion, Fangio said: “[I] haven’t heard it labeled that, but I’m sure it probably is.’’
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
2. The Chiefs just know how to win
When you zoom out, Kansas City’s 10-4 record — coupled with its current position atop the AFC — shows a steady team that has stacked wins. But those who have followed the team closely this season know the reasons for its success have been anything but steady. The 2021 Chiefs have been a pendulum, swinging the responsibility for the team’s progress back and forth without warning.
In Weeks 1-6, the offense took the lead as the defense rounded into form. While the Chiefs started the season with a 3-3 record, the offense’s 30-plus points per game were critical to helping the team weather a historically bad start from its defense.
Then — after the offense ran into a brick wall against the Tennessee Titans in Week 7 — the Chiefs’ defense took responsibility for keeping the team on track. Down 27-0 at halftime in that game, Kansas City’s previously shaky unit shut out the Titans in the second half. From there, the defense took the reins for a six-game winning streak. As the offense struggled to score against teams not named the Las Vegas Raiders, the defense held opposing offenses to under 11 points per game over that stretch.
On Thursday night, the pendulum swung back again. All the staples of Kansas City’s winning streak struggled to materialize against the Chargers. The run defense was gashed to the tune of 192 yards. The pass rush struggled to get pressure. The running game couldn’t get going. Special teams made early mistakes. All that was left was a passing game that had not proven it could perform consistently against two-high safety looks — and when the team needed it the most, it rose to the occasion.
So long as the Chiefs keep a wrecking ball affixed to the pendulum, it might end up that all this swinging back-and-forth will end up as a net-positive.