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Chiefs-Seahawks Instabreakdown: Defense stands tall in season’s 12th win

Kansas City moves to 12-3 with a game from the defense on Christmas Eve.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 24, Seattle Seahawks 10

Offense (Bryan Stewart)

For Chiefs fans, Saturday’s game was a little different than what we have been used to seeing this year: the defense carried most of the weight while the offense did just enough to secure another important win.

Patrick Mahomes turned in another clean performance that was more than good enough to retain his lead in the NFL’s MVP race. Mahomes finished with 224 passing yards, three total touchdowns and no turnovers. Tight end Travis Kelce was Kansas City’s only receiving target to get over 32 yards, finishing with 113 total.

The rushing offense was up and down — but was much better in the first half than the second. Isiah Pacheco logged a solid 58 rushing yards on 14 carries.

To the live viewer, it was clear that Kansas City was struggling with dropped passes throughout the game. The brutally cold weather surely played a role — but regardless of the circumstances, it’s still discouraging to see the offense stall out in such a manner. Wide receiver Justin Watson had two key drops that would’ve resulted in first-down conversions — this after having a brutal dropped pass against the Houston Texans a week ago.

As the Chiefs’ offense works on smoothing things out on the way to the playoffs, it would be nice to get receivers like Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman and Kadarius Toney more involved. These players have more speed and quickness than any of the team’s other offensive weapons. Hardman’s return from injury is likely to come in the next week — and he will surely provide a nice boost.

The offense can take solace from knowing they have the league’s likely MVP leading the way — but it was great to see the defense take over the game.

Offensive Player of the Game: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes

Well, who else? Mahomes did what was needed to win the game: on a day where the Kansas City defense commanded the tempo, he didn’t allowing any opportunities for Seattle to create turnovers. Mahomes also sealed the game with a highlight-reel rushing touchdown, making the score 24-3 late in the fourth quarter.

Defense (Caleb James)

After two consecutive weeks in which the defense was gashed by two of the league’s least-potent offenses, the Chiefs’ defense needed to step up in the worst kind of way. They responded with a lights-out performance against Seattle, holding the Seahawks to just 10 points.

With a dominant showing on third down, Kansas City held the Seattle offense to just two conversions on 14 attempts — and held it to only three fourth-down conversions on six attempts. This ability to get off the field kept the Seahawks from getting any offensive rhythm early in the game; their first four drives ended in three punts and one turnover on downs. A goal-line stand just before the half held the Seahawks to a field goal. The defense allowed just one touchdown — a garbage-time fourth-quarter score when the Chiefs led 24-3.

The battle was won up front. While Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker would end up with 107 yards rushing, he did not get going untll the Chiefs had a two-possession lead in the second half. Rookie first-round draft picks George Karlaftitis and Trent McDuffie led the way for the defense: Karlaftis with a batted pass on third down and a sack in the first half, and McDuffie with five total tackles and sticky coverage all afternoon. Juan Thornhill recorded an end zone interception and Chris Jones closed out the game with his 12th sack of the season.

Defensive Player of the Game: Defensive end George Karlaftis

Two clutch third-down plays from Karlaftis set the stage for the Chiefs to get out to an early lead. First, he recorded his seventh batted pass of the season, which leads all NFL defensive linemen. On his third-down sack, he did a good job to get around the edge and close in on Geno Smith before he could get rid of the ball. The sack put him at 4.5 for the season, which ranks third among rookies. Kansas City’s defensive line led the way in Week 17 — and Karlaftis served as the catalyst that put it into motion.

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