The Chiefs started on offense and immediately looked in control. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams sidelined with injuries, Jerick McKinnon got the start at running back and had three positive carries for 16 yards on the first drive. The running game opened up big plays for the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes hit Travis Kelce with a sidearm pass for a gain of 28 before connecting with Tyreek Hill on a beautiful throw and catch down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown.
The Vikings quickly followed suit with a methodical drive down the field into Chiefs territory. The team leaned heavily on its power running game and short passes to its tight ends. With Chris Jones sidelined, the Kansas City defensive line seemed to struggle filling running lanes early in the game — but the defense buckled down in the red zone. Willie Gay Jr. flashed his playmaking ability on a big hit that caused a pass incompletion. L’Jarius Sneed followed his lead on the next play, breaking up a short pass over the middle to make the Vikings settle for a field goal.
The Chiefs picked up where they left off on their second possession — but this time with a healthy dose of Darwin Thompson at running back. Thompson took two carries for eight yards on the drive, but he also made an impressive play on a screen pass where he shook a defender in the backfield and jetted up the field for a gain of eight yards and a first down. Once again, the running game allowed the Chiefs to establish a balanced attack. Demarcus Robinson had a couple of nice catches over the middle of the field. Mecole Hardman took a jet sweep for eight yards. Mahomes connected with Kelce on an RPO over the middle of the field for a first down. In the red zone, Mahomes rolled right and threw across his body to Blake Bell to cap another drive with a touchdown. He ended two drives — and his night — 8/9 for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
After finding its stride at the end of the previous drive, the Chiefs' defense came out firing on the Vikings' next possession. Anthony Hitchens looked quick blitzing through the ‘A gap’ to sack Cousins on first down. The Vikings were called for offensive holding on second down to bring up third-and-long. L’Jarius Sneed allowed a short completion before wrapping up and driving through the wide receiver to stop him short of the sticks for a three-and-out.
Shane Buechele took over on the third drive — skipping over Chad Henne — to lead an offense composed mostly of second-team players. Notably, Byron Pringle remained in the game. Buechele and the offense were out of sync on their first three drives — running the ball for short gains and completing dink-and-dunk passes, but failing to convert on third downs. Buechele and Daurice Fountain failed to connect on several pass attempts — and Buechele was sacked twice when he went back to pass on third down. The lone bright spot for the Chiefs offense was its running game: McKinnon, Thompson, and Derrick Gore each made plays out of the backfield.
With the Vikings' first-team offense still in the game, Nick Bolton shined in his first snaps of the night. On first down, he was the first among several Chiefs players to swarm a Vikings running back for no gain. On the next play, Deandre Baker made a tackle after a short pass completion. On third down, Bolton forced Cousins out of bounds to prevent him from running for a first down.
The Vikings brought in the second-team offense on its next possession — and the Chiefs defense forced another three-and-out. Baker had good coverage on third down to force an incompletion. The following drive for the Chiefs defense was much of the same. Khalen Saunders was called for a penalty on first down when he continued driving through the running back after the whistles were blown. But after an incompletion and a short gain on a running play, Armani Watts had nice coverage on a third-down incompletion to make the Vikings punt.
Buechele found his rhythm in the two-minute offense before the half. He targeted his tight ends deep over the field several times, connecting with Noah Gray once for a gain of 23 yards. Gray was called for a block in the back on a short pass completion to Thompson out of the backfield. Fountain hauled in a beautiful catch along the sideline, dragging his toe before getting out of bounds to stop the clock. Pringle ran a great “corner stop” route to catch a pass from Buechele for a first down. Gore also caught a few passes out of the backfield. As the Chiefs approached Vikings territory, the drive started to fall apart: Yasir Durant was called for a false start and Pringle had an uncharacteristic drop. But on third-and-seven, Buechele threaded the needle to Marcus Kemp — who made an impressive contested catch over the middle of the field for a touchdown. The Chiefs ran 12 plays for 88 yards in one minute 37 seconds on the drive.
The Vikings took over with seconds on the clock. Wide receiver K.J. Osborn was able to get behind Baker for a big completion on a play where the cornerback was in good position but lunged at the receiver mid-route. However, the Chiefs’ secondary would buckle down for the remainder of the drive. Dicaprio Bootle impressed on a well-timed pass breakup, and Watts came up to stop Vikings tight end Brandon Dillon on the next play to bring up third down. Baker made up for his mistake with a nice pass breakup on a slant over the middle by Osborne. The Vikings missed a 52-yard field goal attempt to end the drive.
Buechele took a knee to end a nice half of football for the undrafted rookie. He went 14/22 for 126 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs finished the first half with close to 300 yards in offense.
The second half started with quick turnovers by both teams. Armani Watts continued to be in the right place at the right time when he picked off an errant throw by Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond. On the next play, the pitch got away from Buechele during an option-run and was recovered by Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler.
Tim Ward made a few nice plays at the beginning of the Vikings’ next drive, while Watts came up to make a tackle on a short pass completion. But the Vikings would break through the Chiefs defense when Mond scrambled out of the pocket for a first down. On the following play, Vikings running back A.J. Rose Jr. ran untouched for 32 yards and a touchdown.
The Chiefs quickly returned the favor. After two pass completions to Maurice Ffrench and Fountain, Gore took a screen pass from Buechele 56 yards for a touchdown. Gore showed off his patience and speed on the play, and the Chiefs’ receiving corps showed great effort and blocking down the field.
Mond started to get in a rhythm in the passing game on the next drive, but the Chiefs defensive line stepped up after the Vikings crossed mid-field. Tyler Clark stopped the Vikings for no gain on a run, and the drive ended when Ward won off the edge and popped the ball out of Mond’s hand. Josh Kaindoh recovered the fumble for a turnover.
After a quick and uneventful drive by the Chiefs, the Vikings resumed methodically moving the ball down the field with a mix of run and pass. In the red zone, it looked like Kaindoh caused a turnover on downs when he came off the edge and hit Mond so hard his helmet popped off — forcing him to throw an incompletion off his back foot. However, Marlon Character was called for holding on a double move by a Vikings receiver, keeping the team’s drive alive. Fortunately, the Chiefs once again settled in as the Vikings neared the end zone. Clark had tremendous penetration to stop a run at the goal line; Character made up for his mistake with a pass breakup in the end zone and Austin Edwards stuffed another run on fourth down to complete the goal-line stand.
Unfortunately, Buechele threw a pick-six on the next play on a pass intended for Darius Shepherd. Mond completed a pass to Myron Mitchell — with Character in coverage — for a successful two-point conversion.
Jody Fortson made a tough catch over the middle of the field on the next drive, but the Chiefs’ offense was unable to get anything else going and was forced to punt.
The Vikings' offense marched up the field again — going eight plays for 89 yards and a touchdown. They looked sharper than the Chiefs’ offense in the second half.
Buechele took a few knees to seal the win for the Chiefs.
Harrison Butker was a perfect 4/4 on extra points.
Tommy Townsend was solid on the night — averaging 56 yards per punt.
Hardman, Hughes, and Shepherd each had opportunities to return punts. Hughes busted a return open for a 76-yard touchdown down the sideline, but it was nullified by an illegal block in the back committed by Pringle.
Kemp had a great tackle on kick coverage early in the game — another contribution in a good performance from him.
Cornerback Chris Lammons nearly blocked a punt with the Vikings backed up near their own goal line, but Vikings punter Britton Colquitt was able to get it off.
Fountain made a nice catch on the “hands team” to prevent the Vikings from recovering an onside kick.
|Yards per play||6.1||6.2|
|Yards per rush||4.80||3.50|
|Passing Gross Yards||294||348|
|Passing Net Yards||282||328|
|Yards per pass||7.10||7.30|
|Rushing first downs||7||4|
|Passing first downs||12||17|
|Penalty first downs||4||1|
|Third down (Made/Att/Pct)||2/14/14%||5/11/45%|
|Fourth down (Made/Att/Pct)||1/2/50%||1/1/100%|
|Goal to go (Made/Att/Pct)||1/3/33%||1/1/100%|
|Red Zone (Made/Att/Pct)||1/3/33%||2/2/100%|
|Extra Points (Made/Att)||3/3||4/4|
|Field Goals (Made/Att)||1/2||0/0|
|Two-Point Conv (Made/Att)||1/1||0/0|
|Gross Punting Avg Yds||47.8||42.4|
|Net Punting Avg Yds||44.5||38.4|
|Total Rtn Yds (No KOs)||10||34|
|Punt Returns (Num/Yds)||1/0||1/13|
|Kickoff Returns (Num/Yds)||3/76||2/43|
|Int Returns (Num/Yds)||1/10||1/21|
|Time of Possession||32:20||27:40|
|A.J. Rose Jr.||6||41||6.8||2||32t|
|Irv Smith Jr.||2||39||19.5||0||23||2||32|
|A.J. Rose Jr.||2||20||10.0||0||16||3||14|
|CHIEFS FUMBLES||FUM||LOST||FF||REC |
|VIKINGS FUMBLES||FUM||LOST||FF||REC |
|A.J. Rose Jr.||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|A.J. Rose Jr.||0||0||0||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|CHIEFS KICK RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|VIKINGS KICK RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|CHIEFS PUNT RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|VIKINGS PUNT RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|