If Kansas City was playing a better team than the Patriots, there’s a very good chance they lose this matchup. The wide receiver unit continued to make head-scratching mistakes, including a drop by Kadarius Toney that resulted in an interception. While Rashee Rice had a game-high 91 receiving yards, he nearly turned the ball over for the second time in as many weeks with a fumble (which was recovered by K.C.) in the second half. Skyy Moore also fumbled, but a New England penalty negated the turnover. Mahomes was able to orchestrate a 20-0 run sandwiched around halftime and was stellar on third down when he needed to be, which helped push the Chiefs in front. The defense also was able to apply pressure onto Bailey Zappe with regularity, which helped shut New England down in the second half. That said, if this were a more worthy opponent, the Chiefs may not have been so fortunate to snap this losing streak.
Next Gen stat of the game: Rashee Rice caught all nine of his targets for 91 yards in Week 15, including eight receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown on targets with 3 or more yards of separation. Rice leads all rookie receivers with plus-110 receiving yards over expected on targets with 3-plus yards of separation entering the rest of the Week 15 slate.
NFL Research: Jerick McKinnon is the third Chiefs player all time with a TD pass and a receiving TD in the same game, along with Tyler Thigpen (2008 vs. Tampa Bay) and Curtis McClinton (1963 at Denver). McKinnon is also the first player in the league with a TD pass and a receiving TD in the first half of a game since the Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 (Week 6 at Raiders).
Chiefs’ Short Passing Game May Be Key to Filling Offensive Dry Spells
The Kansas City Chiefs went into Week 15 with the 11th-ranked scoring offense, but they averaged just 19 points over their previous six outings.
The Chiefs must figure out how to spark their offense as they jockey for playoff seeding in the final weeks of the regular season.
In a 27-17 victory over the New England Patriots, Kansas City used creativity and the short passing game to rack up its highest point total since Week 12.
Running back Jerick McKinnon threw a four-yard pass to rookie wideout Rashee Rice for a touchdown, and he caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes, who also connected with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the end zone on a six-yard play.
Without an established go-to wideout, the Chiefs may have to resort to unconventional ways to spruce up their offense. While it’s difficult to sustain that creativity and get optimal results, perhaps McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire maintain big roles in the aerial attack even when lead running back Isiah Pacheco returns from a shoulder injury.
Travis Kelce stood with 37 catches for 376 yards and a pair of touchdowns against New England dating back to 2014. The perennial All-Pro would continue to draw attention on Sunday.
No. 2 Chiefs tight end Noah Gray found 32 yards on the first play from scrimmage as a result.
In the first half, Kelce turned two targets into two catches for 10 yards. By the end of regulation, he had drawn seven targets and turned them into five catches for 28 yards. A drop in the end zone against hard-hitting safety Kyle Dugger was among them. A fall was, too, versus slot defensive back Myles Bryant. The Patriots’ starting secondary included Alex Austin, not J.C. Jackson, next to Jonathan Jones at cornerback in the big nickel.
11. Still, Taylor Swift didn’t enjoy the show as much on a day when K.C. TE Travis Kelce was limited to five receptions for 28 yards ... and by his own insufficient acting skills.
12. With the Chiefs’ Andy Reid and Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick matching wits Sunday, their personal matchup became the first in league history pairing head coaches each with at least 250 regular-season wins.
Around the NFL
Zach Wilson suffered a concussion just before halftime of Sunday’s 30-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and was later ruled out.
While the defeat put New York’s razor-thin playoff chances in peril, the Jets were officially eliminated from contention after the Houston Texans pulled off an overtime win over the Tennessee Titans shortly after — a reality that renders Aaron Rodgers’ quest for an all-time comeback from a torn Achilles in Week 1 unneeded.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Saturday that the result of the Miami game would impact the decision to activate Rodgers off injured reserve by the upcoming Wednesday deadline to do so.
Why the Ravens won
Baltimore imposed its will on the ground against Jacksonville on the ground in the second half, rushing for 204 yards and averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Lamar Jackson had seven carries for 67 yards in the second half while Keaton Mitchell had seven carries for 70 yards before going down with a serious knee injury. The Ravens dominated the second half because of all the yards gained on the ground (they only completed three passes). The Ravens finished with 251 rushing yards on the night.
Roughly 30 minutes following the Niners’ 45-29 throttling of the Cardinals to improve to 11-3, quarterback Brock Purdy was asked what the case would be for McCaffrey to win MVP. Instead of offering arguments, Purdy provided an endorsement.
“I think Christian should be MVP,” Purdy said. “I really do believe that. He does everything for us ... and so in my eyes that’s an MVP.”
Purdy is always quick to deflect praise for others. But in this instance, it was more notable given that Purdy himself is considered one of the top contenders to win the award. And though Purdy had also just put the finishing touches on another big day, it was McCaffrey who once again shined brightest against the Cardinals.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: It’s a luxury to have a former first-round pick at the running back position sitting on the bench. But games like this show why keeping numbers at the position makes sense. Edwards-Helaire put together a 100-total-yard game this week with a highlight-reel catch for a touchdown. He also had the game’s longest play with an incredibly well-blocked screen play that he took for 48 yards. Edwards-Helaire isn’t great at everything, but he showed what he does best this week — catch the ball, run downhill and sometimes make guys miss.
Running back Jerick McKinnon: This game also showed the ideal role for McKinnon. Perhaps he doesn’t have the same level of burst he used to have, but he showed off all the tools in this game. McKinnon’s eight touches resulted in a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown, albeit for limited yardage. Heading into the postseason, it seems like Jet is going to have a valuable role once again.