The Kansas City Chiefs took care of business in Frankfurt, Germany, winning against the Miami Dolphins, 21-14. Let’s get to the winners and losers from the game here:
Cornerback Trent McDuffie: Typically, when a cornerback leads the team in tackles (10), it’s a bad sign for the defense. But maybe not when it’s McDuffie doing the tackling. With the second quarter clock winding down and the Dolphins in Chiefs territory, No. 22 came flying into the backfield to hit wide receiver Tyreek Hill and simultaneously strip the ball. It was a pivotal, game-changing play that nearly put it out of reach. McDuffie is making his case for a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection in his second season.
Safety Bryan Cook: After Mike Edwards recovered the fumble, he lateraled to Cook, and the second-year safety was off to the races. According to Next Gen stats, he hit the highest top speed of any Chief this season, erasing the angle of two Dolphins as he sprinted up the sideline. We’ll be watching replays of this one for years.
Tight end Noah Gray: Who put money on Noah Gray leading all Chiefs in receiving yards this week? Gray got off to a good start with a 25-yard catch on the Chiefs' opening touchdown drive, showing confidence in his hands and route running when the defense was focused on stopping Travis Kelce. The offense is looking for secondary receiving targets to step up, so Gray should have plenty more opportunities.
Wide receiver Rashee Rice: He caught both of his targets for just 17 total yards, and his touchdown was one of the better-executed offensive plays of the day. It was a simple screen pass, but Rice was able to quickly set up his blockers and then run through the teeth of the defense for a score. The only complaints we’re hearing about Rice today are that the Chiefs still need to funnel more volume his way.
Linebacker Willie Gay Jr.: This was almost a huge day for Gay. He had a sack called back for defensive holding and forced a fumble that was recovered by Miami. Gay still ended the day with four solo tackles and was a big part of the Chiefs' efforts to contain the league’s most explosive offense. His fourth-quarter tackle for a loss was the first play in a sequence that took the Dolphins from first-and-10 at the Chiefs’ 38 back to fourth-and-27 at their own 45. Given that he was questionable coming into the weekend, it was a particularly impressive performance.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones: It wasn’t a banner day for No. 95. Sure, he was active in rushing the quarterback and keeping Tua Tagovailoa uncomfortable. But, unfortunately, the one time that Jones was most visible was when he picked up an inexplicable unnecessary roughness penalty when the Chiefs defense got a stop on a third-and-20. The automatic first down and 15 yards set up the Dolphins' second touchdown, making this game a little too close for comfort.
Wide receiver Justin Watson: Patrick Mahomes was 4 of 4 on the opening drive, hitting four different receivers before laying one out for Watson in the end zone. It looked like a touchdown, but upon review, he allowed the ball to touch the ground before it was secured. In fact, Watson caught just two of his team-high five targets on the day for a total of 15 yards.
Receiver/returner Mecole Hardman: Hardman actually had a 10-yard and 17-yard catch on the day, indicating he is starting to find ways to get involved in the offense. Unfortunately, he had another catch that lost 7 yards, and made some questionable decisions on special teams, like fielding a punt at the 1-yard line. It’s still not clear exactly what his role will be by the end of the season, but we’d like to see him be a little more fundamentally sound when field position and game are on the line.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.