On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the spunky Tennessee Titans. Fortunately for the Chiefs, they took Tennessee’s best shot and hung tough long enough to land the final knockout blow, winning 20-17. Here are five things we learned from the game:
1. The Chiefs have Michael Jordan on their team
If you are a Chiefs fan, then savor every single pass attempt that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ever throws. We are currently watching greatness in its prime.
Unreal. Patrick Mahomes just took over this game like an NBA superstar.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) November 7, 2022
Mahomes’ contribution to the game goes beyond his 68 pass attempts and 446 passing yards on the night.
Late in the second half of Sunday night’s game, with the Chiefs trailing 17-9, Mahomes put the entire team on his back and willed his team to victory. The performance was very reminiscent of classic Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant in which the entire offense would run through them. When the Chiefs scored the game-tying touchdown, late in the fourth quarter, it was by the sheer will of number 15— Mahomes was going to do whatever it took to win this game and silence a very chirpy Titans defense.
Mahomes is that X-factor— that element of greatness, that in times of trial when things aren’t going quite right, he takes an extra helping of responsibility on himself and gets the job done.
It’s rare to find a player of Mahomes’ caliber — we are watching history play out before our eyes; don’t blink, or you might miss a moment of greatness.
2. Noah Gray is more than a No. 2 tight end
While we don’t like to think about it, the cold, hard truth is that the end is closer than the beginning for Travis Kelce.
Up until this point, Noah Gray was mostly thought of as a nice complement to Kelce in the offense, but with Kelce occupied for large stretches of this game, Gray came up huge, making an acrobatic catch in overtime to move the Chiefs into field goal range.
Gray also had another exceptional day in pass protection, picking up the Titans' blitzers on more than one occasion. When the inevitable day comes that Kelce is no longer playing for the Chiefs, Gray has a legitimate argument to step into his shoes and take over the role of starting tight end.
Gray is a guy who just does all of the little things well, and he’s not afraid to scrape and fight for every extra inch on the football field. On a night when it seemed like nothing was going right for the Chiefs offensively, Gray was as clutch as they come.
3. The Chiefs' tackles are still a problem
The Chiefs' pass protection against the Titans was not great, especially in the second half. There were times in Sunday night's game when the Chiefs' offensive tackles legitimately looked like they had never played the position before.
It was not all bad, because, at times, they gave Mahomes a clean pocket in which to operate. But when the job is to protect the league's best quarterback, you can’t afford to have those plays where he’s getting lit up before he even has a chance to catch the snap.
By this point in the season, we know the ceiling for Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie: they can be functional offensive tackles who — on occasion — can have spurts of high-level play. The key here isn’t to raise their ceiling, but rather to bring their floor up to a level of performance that is not laughable.
4. Being a one-dimensional team is OK
They say if your team is too one-dimensional, it will be predictable and might struggle to move the offense down the field. For most teams, this would be true. But on a night when the Chiefs running backs rushed for a combined 14 yards on 13 carries, the Chiefs went away from the running game completely and started tossing the ball all over the yard.
When you have as many weapons as the Chiefs, you can spread the ball around and keep the defense honest. It doesn’t matter if you run the ball when Mahomes is passing for 446 yards in a game. Let the defense line up and try to stop it. I’m willing to bet nine times out of 10, the Chiefs come out on top.
This doesn't mean that I think the Chiefs should never run the ball again. It means that when the running game isn’t working, there is no shame in leaning on your strengths.
5. The Chiefs' front four has the ability to shut teams down
Coming into this season, there were legitimate questions about whether or not Chiefs defensive tackle Khalen Saunders would even make the team.
Fast forward eight games, and Saunders, along with fellow defensive tackle Chris Jones and edge rusher Carlos Dunlap, were harassing rookie quarterback Malik Willis in overtime and shutting down Derek Henry in the second half of the football game.
It was the performance we have been waiting to see out of this defensive line. The key to moving forward will be consistency. Was this a one-time thing, or can the Chiefs count on them to consistently generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks moving forward?
Only time will tell, but after watching Willis run for his life in overtime, we got a glimpse of just how fun this pass rush can be.