The Kansas City Chiefs took on the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, racking up some stats and breaking some records en route to a 31-13 palindrome victory that ended Kansas City’s regular season on a high note.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
1. Patrick Mahomes is more than the MVP
That is the new all-time single-season record for offensive yards by a quarterback. It’s now held by Patrick Mahomes, who has finished the 2022 season with 5,250 passing yards (topping the league this season and fourth-most all-time), 358 rushing yards and six receiving yards.
Let that sink in for a moment. Mahomes hasn’t just been the NFL’s MVP this season. He’s had one of the greatest seasons in league history.
Mahomes broke the record on a simple 14-yard scramble. It wasn’t a highlight-reel play like a 95-yard bomb or a behind-the-back pass with his eyes closed. It was just a 14-yard run for a first down that moved the chains. In the moment, the best part seemed to be that Mahomes didn’t get hurt when Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby chased him down from behind.
Mahomes is one of three quarterbacks in league history to have at least two seasons (2018 and 2022) with 5,000 or more passing yards. The other two are Tom Brady and Drew Brees. To put this in context: Brady didn’t throw for 5,000 yards until he was 34 years old. Brees didn’t do it until he was 29. At the age of 26, Mahomes has now done it twice.
Don’t take this for granted. We are watching history unfold before our eyes.
2. The pass rush is peaking at the right time
Sack Nation generated six sacks and 14 quarterback hits on Saturday. CEO Chris Jones accounted for 2.5 of them, finishing the regular season with 15.5. That matches his career-high from 2018.
It was the sort of performance Kansas City fans have been waiting to see. While safety Justin Reid accounted for one sack on a blitz, the majority of the pressure the Chiefs created on Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham came from the Kansas City front four physically overpowering the Raiders’ offensive line.
Even when the Chiefs didn’t get to Stidham, they made him uncomfortable. He was repeatedly flushed from the pocket. A week after he lit up the San Francisco 49ers for 325 yards and three touchdowns, Kansas City’s defense held him to 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
3. The Chiefs earned the bye
I don’t think there has ever been another team that was dismissed so quickly after being so successful for so long.
As the season began — and after winning six straight division titles and hosting four straight AFC championship games — the Chiefs were widely doubted.
Kansas City has had the AFC West wrapped up for a few weeks. But now that the team has completed its sweep of the division and secured the postseason’s first-round bye, it’s time for a victory lap. The sports world should now be filled with analysts admitting they were wrong about the 2022 Chiefs.
In a season where the team was rebuilding the defense and revamping the offense, Kansas City still went 14-3 and finished at the top of the AFC.
The next time the Chiefs’ rivals want to make splashy offseason moves to take a shot at the crown, they’d better not miss.
4. Trey Smith is the CEO of IHOP
I bet Trey Smith smells like maple syrup. I mean, the guy makes so many pancakes that he looks like a short-order cook at a diner on Saturday morning. On one play early in the first half, I counted three separate pancakes on three different Las Vegas defenders.
We all have our passions in life. Smith likes to turn defenders into... well... breakfast.
Smith isn’t just one of the most talented young offensive linemen in the NFL. He is also the meanest, baddest son-of-a-gun since Leroy Brown. He’s badder than ol’ King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog — and when he’s done with you, you’re going to look like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.
5. Ring around the Rosie, pocket full of Toneys
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been concerned about the Kansas City offense starting slow; I’ve written about it more than once. Over the last couple of weeks, it’s also appeared that the Chiefs were just going through the motions of trying to get to the postseason.
All of that changed on Saturday night. The Chiefs came out firing from the get-go, hitting Justin Watson on a bomb down the sideline on the opening drive.
15 throwing bombs to Justin Watson pic.twitter.com/xs5dlhicbA— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) January 7, 2023
This would set the tone for the game. Kansas City came out hot, keeping its foot on the gas until the game was clearly in hand.
Around this time every season, we speculate what kind of magical wonder the great wizard Andy Reid is going to pull out of his book of spells to unleash on the world.
We got our answer on Saturday. The ring-around-the-Rosie play will go down in history as one of the best plays that never counted.
Chiefs S Justin Reid on KC capturing the AFC’s top spot and the “Arctic Circle,” huddle play in which a TD was negated by penalty but was followed by a touchdown on the next play. pic.twitter.com/QQhp4KJ66F— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) January 8, 2023
If this is the sort of thing that Reid has up his sleeve for the playoffs, then buckle up. We are in for a heck of an entertaining ride.