On Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Seattle Seahawks 24-10 in their Week 16, Christmas Eve game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. With the win, the Chiefs improve to 12-3, while the Seahawks fall to 7-8.
A refreshing day on defense for the Chiefs.
What a rejuvenating day for coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit.
On a day when the Chiefs' offense couldn’t get much going — punting the ball six times and giving Seattle 12 offensive possessions — the defense was unrelenting.
From the beginning of the game, the Chiefs’ defensive players played like they felt disrespected (they likely do), flying around and consistently pressuring quarterback Geno Smith — disallowing Seattle’s offense from getting into a groove.
Linebacker Nick Bolton was good in open space, leading the team with an eye-popping 17 tackles. The tackling as a whole was much better — and other than a few bad plays by cornerback Joshua Williams, the defense stayed away from being penalized.
Led by defensive tackle Chris Jones, the Chiefs’ defensive line had a strong game. Rookie defensive end George Karlaftis got home for the fourth time in five games, while defensive end Carlos Dunlap ensured his presence was known with a quarterback hit. The Chiefs — stemming mostly from the effort of cornerback L’Jarius Sneed — allowed 81 yards to wide receiver DK Metcalf, but he only made one catch over 11 yards all afternoon.
In a dull game of football, safety Juan Thornhill sealed the deal with an end-zone interception from a bad throw by Smith. Saturday provided the defense with something to build on.
A largely out-of-sync day on offense for the Chiefs.
As the defense showed out, the Chiefs’ offense was uncharacteristically out-of-sync for most of the day — but was still able to do enough to ensure a Kansas City victory.
Perhaps a little bit of that was due to the cold, as the temperature stayed under 20 degrees throughout the game. The Chiefs weren’t good on third down, only going 3-for-11.
The grand negative: there were multiple drops — including a couple from wide receiver Justin Watson. The grand positive: the Chiefs were turnover-free for the first time since Week 5.
The touchdown plays to wide receiver Kadarius Toney and running back Jerick McKinnon were bright spots for the Chiefs’ offense, as was this ridiculous second-quarter 27-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce’s reception set up the McKinnon score that extended the Chiefs' lead to 14-0.
After three straight punts to start the second half, Mahomes dialed up Kelce again, getting him to 100 yards after a 52-yard connection that set up a 4-yard scramble in which Mahomes dived for the pylon and officially put the game out of reach.
Mahomes finished with 224 yards, two touchdowns and the rushing touchdown — and he heard “MVP” chants after his final score.
Clean football makes for more comfortable Chiefs games.
Improved tackling — and the plus-one turnover differential — were fundamental changes that made a difference in which team controlled the game.
But after being a hot topic all week, the kicking operation was flawless. Punter Tommy Townsend’s holds seemed good, while placekicker Harrison Butker was 3-for-3 on extra points while making his only field-goal attempt — a 47-yarder.
The Chiefs will need to see it again in the two weeks before the playoffs to come, but they have to feel much better on Saturday than they did on Friday.
The final word
The Chiefs’ Christmas Eve game was more uneventful than anything else — but hey, that’s a good thing.
The defense performed much, much better, the ball security was there — and we can likely put HoldGate to rest.
So it’s onto the Broncos. And the Chiefs will be hoping that in Week 17, one nemesis — the Bengals — will take care of the other one: the Bills.