Kansas City dominated Chicago from the opening kickoff, putting up 34 points in the first half while pitching a shutout on defense. The second half worried us a little — but it wasn’t because there was any risk of losing the game. Instead, it was because of a few injuries — including one to the NFL’s most valuable ankle.
The Chiefs showed that when the offensive line is winning, the running game works. And when the running game works, everything works.
In a 31-point victory, it’s pretty easy to find winners. Here are a few that stood out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon cruise at Arrowhead.
Tight end Travis Kelce: It wasn’t just his seven catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t just that he was able to play a clean game without the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties or other issues like we saw in Week 2. Yes... I’m talking about his off-the-field victroy: getting one of the world’s biggest stars to cheer for him — and capture every headline. From his podcast (with his brother Jason) to his wardrobe to his choice in potential partners, Kelce is becoming one of the NFL’s very biggest stars. It was pretty crazy to see Taylor Swift in a Chiefs jersey dancing and cheering next to the tight end’s mom Donna.
The Chiefs’ entire offensive line: This unit was absolutely dominant on Sunday afternoon. It not only kept quarterback Patrick Mahomes from taking a single sack, but also found its groove in run blocking. Kansas City ran the ball 37 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns, getting every running back involved and into the end zone — that is, if you include Jerick McKinnon’s two receiving touchdowns. Sure... the excessive attention on Jawaan Taylor’s stance continues — resulting in a couple of penalties — and there were a couple of injuries. But nothing could stop the Chiefs’ offense on Sunday — or any other day when the team is so balanced. And that starts up front.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill: Stepping in for the injured Nick Bolton, Tranquill was consistently great against Chicago. Working all over the field, he led the team in tackles — and even kicked in half a sack as he helped finish a play where Bears’ quarterback Justin Fields tried to scramble away from the Kansas City pass rush. Already known for his coverage ability, Tranquill has now proven he can be an every-down MIKE — a key part of the team’s deep and diverse linebacker group.
Cornerback Trent McDuffie: Another week, another standout performance from the second-year corner. His forced fumble helped put the game out of reach — not to mention his consistent coverage and five solid tackles.
Wide receiver Rashee Rice: His performances haven’t been perfect, but the rookie wideout has shown flashes as a playmaker in each of his first three games — making a strong case for more targets going forward. In Week 3, Rice had two near-touchdowns on his way to a five-catch 59-yard performance. Just to show he’s a well-rounded player, he also chipped in on two special-teams tackles.
Returner Montrell Washington: Stepping in for the injured Richie James, the practice-squad wideout ran hard on each of his three punt returns, including a 23-yard beauty. If he’s able to keep being a reliable returner with some juice, he might just find his way onto the roster for the rest of the season.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones: In Week 2, the defense got a shot in the arm when the big man returned — and it appears that will continue for the foreseeable future. If he keeps getting a sack every week, Jones might secure a big payday after all.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert: When Mahomes gets time off — whether it’s from a rolled ankle, a Chiefs blowout (or both) — the team needs a dependable backup to step in and keep the train rolling down the tracks. Gabbert had five pass attempts on Sunday. Two ended up in the hands of Chicago defenders. In order to seal this victory, there wasn’t much he needed to do. Throwing two picks certainly wasn’t on that list.
Cornerback Jaylen Watson: Given the score and the time of the game, it didn’t matter at all. But clearly, the Chiefs’ defense was taking a lot of pride in first keeping the Bears off the scoreboard — and then the end zone. But then, Chicago wide receiver D.J. Moore beat Watson on back-to-back passes the visiting team’s only touchdown. It seems that this will be a week-by-week thing with Watson. Hopefully, he bounces right back.
Note: applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgement on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s nothing more than a simple way to evaluate what we saw in this one game. No disrespect is intended.