Christmas came early for the Kansas City Chiefs as they celebrated their holiday weekend with a Week 16 victory against the Seattle Seahawks, 24-10. The offense was solid, but this time, it was Kansas City’s defense that saved the day as the offense fought its way through a mid-game slump.
“We kind of went through a stall there,” head coach Andy Reid told reporters after the game. “We had too many mistakes, dropped balls, fumble – whatever – too much. But anyways, [we] bounced back and took care of that.”
The Chiefs' offense entered halftime with a 17-3 lead after another fast start to begin the game. However, it sputtered in the second half, as the team failed to score again until late in the fourth quarter. Dropped passes, untimely penalties and breakdowns in protection were mainly to blame for this, but Reid summed it up by saying the team just did not execute well in the second half — something he said was his fault.
“We weren’t doing very well,” Reid admitted when asked about of his offense’s second-half struggles. “Whether it was the run game, pass game, I take responsibility for that too. I got to try to work things in our favor, but that’s not where we were going.”
As recent weeks have shown, all chaos usually breaks loose whenever the offense, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, falls out of rhythm and fails to score points. However, as things began to slow down for the offense in this one, it was Kansas City’s defense that came up big — holding the Seahawks to three points for nearly the entire game.
“I was extremely proud of them,” Mahomes said, praising the team’s defensive performance. “That’s a really good offense. They’ve put up points on a lot of teams this year, and so for our defense to stop them in so many critical moments, that’s what we need going forward. When they play like that, we’re going to be a hard team to beat. Offensively we’ve got to execute at a little higher level, but we got what we needed done, and credit to the defense of kind of holding us in there when we were struggling.”
Perhaps the game's biggest defensive play occurred with 7:48 remaining on the clock as the Seahawks were deep inside Kansas City territory. Seattle quarterback Geno Smith took the snap on second-and-12 and threw it into the end zone, where it was picked off by Chiefs cornerback Juan Thornhill for his second interception of the season.
That's what they call a catch 22— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 24, 2022
: #SEAvsKC on FOX pic.twitter.com/MUr6zRvUZA
This play was critical as it changed the entire energy of the team. On the very next drive, the offense responded with two consecutive big gains of 20 and 52 yards from Mahomes to tight end Travis Kelce — who finished the game as the Chiefs' leading receiver with 113 yards on six catches.
“I went to the sideline after we had a few drives in a row where we fizzled out really fast, and I said, “Hey, how the defense is playing, we just need one more score to put this game away,” Mahomes said. “I thought the guys responded well. Obviously, Travis (Kelce) got lost in space two times in a row where we wanted to throw deep, but when they played that deep a coverage, just hitting Travis over the middle usually is a good thing. He was able to get us down there into the red zone, and we were able to punch it in and get the touchdown.”
The touchdown Mahomes referenced was his 3-yard scramble to the end zone with a little under five minutes remaining in the game. It was yet another spectacular play for Mahomes to add to his MVP highlight reel as he held himself up with one arm while reaching out wide for the pylon and scoring the touchdown with the other.
What can't @PatrickMahomes do?!— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
: #SEAvsKC on FOX
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/qBUT4jhCGQ pic.twitter.com/lJYYQb23tO
Mahomes broke down the highlight score that ended the Chiefs' second-half scoring drought after the game.
“We had a play where we had a front side read where I wanted to either throw a flat to a little hook route to Kelce across the middle, and they covered it well,” he explained. “I started running trying to find the edge, and I was able to just get enough of that pylon. I grazed it, and I knew it was close. I grazed it, and I knew the rule that if you touch the pylon, you’re good, so luckily enough, I stayed out of bounds and was able to get in the end zone.”
When asked if he knowingly held himself up as he reached out for the score, Mahomes humbly denied having that level of mind presence at the moment.
“That was definitely not on purpose,” Mahomes said with a smile. “But it shows that the wrist is a little strong. I had a little push-up position (laughter). I’m not going to say I’m the strongest guy in the world, but I’ve done a little bit to hold myself up.”
The touchdown would seal the game for the Chiefs, as they went on to win their third game in a row.
“At the end of the day you get down there towards the end zone in the late parts of these football games you have to just go out there and be a competitor,” Mahomes continued. “We were able to get it into the end zone on a big drive that helped put the game away.”