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Instabreakdown: Chiefs’ running game picks up passing offense to beat Jets

On Sunday night, Kansas City’s ground game needed to overcome two Patrick Mahomes interceptions.

Kansas City Chiefs v New York Jets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 23, New York Jets 20


It was once again a clunky performance by the Chiefs’ passing offense — especially after the first 12 minutes of the game.

The initial 17-0 lead was (mostly) built by a determined rushing attack. On the game’s opening touchdown, Kansas City overloaded one side of the line — putting right tackle Jawaan Taylor to the outside of left tackle Donovan Smith — and ran Power. That play called for the left side of the line to collapse down on the defensive front, giving space for right guard Trey Smith to pull around and lead into the second level. Smith’s pancake block was the key block in Isiah Pacheco’s 48-yard touchdown run.

From the second quarter on, the Chiefs’ offense failed to get into much of a rhythm — and it’s fair to put that on quarterback Patrick Mahomes. On the first play of a drive in the second quarter, Mahomes patiently awaited a throwing window — but eventually tested a very tight one. To make matters worse, he severely underthrew the ball — and it was intercepted.

Two drives later, Mahomes went further downfield — but in a very similar situation, his pass was easily undercut and picked off. Both turnovers were as much mental mistakes as they were physical.

Throughout the game, the relationship between Mahomes and his receivers wasn’t notably positive. The team’s wide receivers combined for 65 yards on seven catches from just 12 targets.

Right tackle Jawaan Taylor didn’t improve on his situation this week, earning two separate penalties — one leading to a New York safety. The call was questionable — it might have happened in the field of play rather than the end zone — but it was otherwise called correctly. Later in the game, a scramble that moved the chains was negated when Taylor was called on a clear hold.

Offensive player of the game: running back Isiah Pacheco

All of the life from Kansas City’s offense came from Pacheco, who had a career game. He totaled 156 yards on offense, with 115 of them coming on the ground. His 48-yard run was the highlight — the longest rush of his NFL career — but he also made key contributions with checkdowns in the passing game. His 43 receiving yards finished second among all pass-catchers.


It’s safe to say no one saw this coming: the Chiefs’ defense would look its most vulnerable against New York quarterback Zach Wilson.

After forcing three punts to begin the game, Wilson led three scoring drives over a span of five possessions. After getting to Wilson and sacking him early with a blitz, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seemed to trust his front to get the necessary pressure — and for much of the second and third quarter, the group wasn’t able to do it.

Defensive end George Karlaftis let Wilson slip out of his grasp on one play in the red zone, allowing the quarterback to get a throw off to the end zone. Defensive tackle Chris Jones wasn’t getting free for most of the game; his only sack came on the last play of the first half, when there was no time on the clock.

The absence of linebacker Nick Bolton was much more noticeable than it was in Week 3. The Jets’ running game had multiple explosive plays — including a 43-yard gain in the second half. Linebacker Drue Tranquill still made a handful of plays, leading the team in tackles, forcing a fumble and registering a quarterback hit that led to a third-down incompletion.

Defensive player of the game: safety Mike Edwards

Throughout the game, Edwards stood out. He finished with four tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass defended. He did this as the team’s third safety; compared to starting safeties Justin Reid and Bryan Cook, he had only limited opportunities to make plays.

His sack helped end one second-half Jets’ drive when he wrapped up Wilson’s legs as he tried to escape. Later, he nearly intercepted a pass over the middle — but the incompletion still ended the possession. It was Edwards’ most impactful game in a Chiefs’ uniform.

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