What a gutsy performance from Travis Kelce.
The Chiefs’ tight end clearly had some discomfort when his right foot got caught up on the turf near the end of the second quarter. Kelce went to the locker room for X-rays but would not allow the injury to keep him out of the game.
Kelce had five catches for 22 yards before the injury. He then played through it for another five catches for 45 yards and what would eventually be the game-winning touchdown.
Not every player in the league would push through and stay in the game in that situation, which speaks to how much of a competitor he is — and how much he cares about this. Recently, Kelce has been a bit more involved in non-football headlines than he would probably like. This was a timely reminder: for him, the main thing will always be the main thing.
Beyond Kelce, Patrick Mahomes spread the football around, a good sign for an offense still finding its identity.
After Kelce, quarterback Patrick Mahomes found nine other targets, finishing 31 of 41 for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Recent conversations (and complaints) have been about the Chiefs’ wide receiver group — and for the time being, it still seems that Kansas City is OK with its wide-receiver-by-committee approach.
With that said, seeing flashes from Rashee Rice — whom the Chiefs drafted in the second round — is positive. Rice looks like he may be the No. 1 candidate to fill that vacant JuJu Smith-Schuster role as the club enters the second quarter of the season. Justin Watson — a/k/a everybody’s favorite roster-projection cut — had a critical 33-yard downfield catch in this game. Meanwhile, Justyn Ross — a/k/a everybody’s favorite roster-projection addition — put together the most productive day of his career with 28 yards.
In the preseason, Kadarius Toney was the team’s preseason pick to be No. 1 wide receiver. It seems that as his health improves, he will get more and more involved with the offense. On Sunday, it looked like Toney being healthy meant more snaps — which meant he could be targeted six times and bring in five passes. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore also chipped in with three combined catches.
So the go-to guy for Mahomes (after Kelce, that is) is still very much up for grabs — but in the meantime, if the team can produce and win, that’s really all that matters.
The Chiefs’ defense would not allow Justin Jefferson to ruin the game.
One of the talking points heading into Sunday afternoon’s game was how Kansas City’s young secondary would match up against the player that many consider to be the game’s best pass-catching threat: wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
While Kansas City surrendered 20 points and 329 net yards on the afternoon, Jefferson was a non-factor for the three quarters in which he was involved. (A fourth-quarter hamstring injury limited his use late in the game). Coming into the contest, quarterback Kirk Cousins had targeted Jefferson 47 times this season — about 12 targets a game.
But on Sunday, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s coverage plan reduced Cousins to only six targets of Jefferson. The league’s leading wideout only brought in three passes for 28 yards. Spagnuolo helped these efforts with a wide variety of blitz looks, limiting any time for downfield routes to develop.
Spagnuolo would not allow Minnesota’s best weapon to beat him — and with Jefferson handled, so was the game.