Chiefs #1 After Close Wins vs. Broncos, Dolphins, and Falcons

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 6, 2020 (Updated Dec. 13, 2020)

The offense took a while to warm up, and its run defense continued to be poor, but the Kansas City Chiefs prevailed. High-level play by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, a deft interception by safety Tyrann Mathieu, and late-game heroics by kicker Harrison Butker helped the team win. The Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 22-16 tonight in Arrowhead Stadium, earning a spot in the NFL playoffs.

Denver began with a field goal. The Chiefs responded with a field goal drive of their own. “Alert! Alert!” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes to his teammates. “Roll it back! Roll it back!” he said afterward. It turned out that the play was a decoy. According to NBC Sports announcers, Mahomes was at first indicating a running play, but then reverted to the original play call: throwing the ball to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. That catch was good for 19 yards.

Then, on 3rd and 4, Sammy Watkins made a catch to get the first down. As announcer Al Michaels noted, Mahomes dealt with the blitz simply — “throw the ball on top of the blitz”. Then Mahomes found Kelce for another 19-yard play. With that play, Kelce passed 1,000 yards for the season. He is the first tight end in NFL history with five straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Later, the play was followed by an unbelievable near-miss: receiver Tyreek Hill caught the ball in the end zone, then lost it — and then regained possession as he landed. The ball never touched the ground. That should’ve been a touchdown, but the refs failed to recognize it, and the catch only became clear on replay. By that point, it was too late to challenge. But the play will surely inspire all kinds of watercooler discussion tomorrow.

That proved to be a costly mistake. The damage could have been averted had the Chiefs defense actually been able to stop the run. But on 3rd down, Broncos running back Melvin Gordon ran 63 yards, dashing past Chiefs defenders for one missed tackle after another. That led to a touchdown by the Broncos.

A horse-collar tackle on the Broncos led to a 15-yard penalty. That gave Chiefs a first-down. Hill went to the 24-yard line, and Mahomes took off on a daring run to the four-yard line. That put them at first and goal. Yet despite that auspicious start, the Chiefs were unable to break through to the end zone. They settled for a field goal.

Denver took over with the ball and attempted a long field goal, with the help of reliable kicker Brandon McManus. But the 57-yard kick was no good. The score remained 10-6. The Chiefs took over, and Kelce notched another first-down catch. The Chiefs made it to 1st and goal (again). But thanks to a batted-down pass by a Denver defender, the Chiefs had to settle a field goal.

That proved to be the story of the half. Chiefs moved down the field efficiently, but were stopped four times in the end zone. Thanks to the stout Broncos defense, the Chiefs had to settle for four field goals. Three of those field goals came in the first half; the last one made it 10-9 at halftime.

But the offense finally broke through in the second quarter. After a Denver touchdown that put the ahead 16-12, Mahomes got the Broncos defense to jump offsides, then hurled a pass to Kelce for the Chiefs’ first touchdown of the night. That made it 19-16. As the fourth quarter neared its close, kicker Harrison Butker drilled a field goal to make it 22-16. The Broncos tried to mount a game-winning drive, but Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted QB Drew Lock to seal the win.

With this win, the Chiefs are in the playoffs! This is their seventh straight win, according to NBC Sports. This takes them to 11-1 for the season. Mahomes celebrated by crashing Kelce’s postgame interview, pouring cold water down his neck in the cold. (Photo above — and video below — courtesy of Twitter.)

UPDATE (Dec. 13, 2020): The Chiefs won again today, scoring 27 straight points to overcome an early lead by the Miami Dolphins. Mahomes threw three interceptions for the first time ever, but he also threw two touchdowns and 393 yards. Kelce scored a touchdown in today’s game. So did Mecole Hardman, who returned a punt all the way to the house for 67 yards. Chris Jones sacked Miami’s rookie quarterback for a safety, for a 30-10 Chiefs lead. A field goal by Harrison Butker late in the fourth quarter helped ice the game. The Chiefs beat the Dolphins 33-27; this is their 10th straight road win. They improve to 12-1, winning their AFC West division for the fifth straight season.

UPDATE (Dec. 27, 2020): The Kansas City Chiefs are now 14-1 The Atlanta Falcons had a chance to tie their game versus the Chiefs today and go into overtime. But the Falcons’ field-goal kick was no good. Mahomes exulted, running down the sideline and ripping off his mask in excitement. He had good reason to be excited: the Chiefs won, 17-14. They clinch home-field advantage and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

This is the team’s 10th straight win. It’s also the seventh win to come by six points or less. (Today, the team won by three points — the same margin by which they beat the Saints last week. Their victories against the Broncos and Dolphins were by six points apiece. They narrowly defeated the Bucs by three points, the Raiders by four, and the Panthers by two.) At 14-1, the Kansas City Chiefs have the league’s best record. They have attained the #1 seed and automatically advance to the next round of the NFL playoffs, which start on January 9.

Also, Travis Kelce made history: he has 1,416 receiving yards this season, the most ever by a tight end. He also became the first tight end to record a pair of 100-catch seasons, according to NBC Sports. But it was the team’s stellar record that impressed Kelce most: “The real record I’m proud of right now is that it’s the first time the #Chiefs have ever been 14-1,” he told reporters after the game. “And we’re gonna try and make it 15-1 next week.”

Chiefs Edge Raiders In Shootout

By Terrance Turner

The Kansas City Chiefs met the Las Vegas Raiders in Vegas tonight for what became a wildly competitive match. The Raiders scored first, but the Chiefs weren’t far behind. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes found wide receiver Tyreek Hill for a touchdown, capping a 14-play drive. The Raiders responded with another scoring drive; Raiders QB Derek Carr connected with WR Nelson Agholor for the touchdown. The Raiders led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Raiders defense jumped offside twice, then got hit with a pass interference penalty. That flag propelled the Chiefs to 1st and goal. Then they scored, with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire finding the end zone. That tied the game at 14.

On their ensuing drive, the Raiders flew down the field, with the Chiefs defense utterly unable to stop the run. Las Vegas picked up one first down after another, soon advancing to first and goal. But on fourth and goal, the refs threw a flag. Las Vegas was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. (The cause was team coaches being outside their coaches’ box, according to the announcers.) That 15-yard penalty forced them to attempt a field goal. That 35-yard kick was good, giving them a lead of 17-14.

The Chiefs were hit with a 15-yard penalty of their own, for a facemask. Both the Chiefs and Raiders went three-and-out on their drives. On the Chiefs’ next drive, Mahomes ran to the first-down marker, and a holding flag on Las Vegas added five yards. Another five yards were added from another holding penalty, but Mahomes got intercepted near the end of the second quarter. The Raiders led 17-14 at the half.

In the second half, the Chiefs rackedup one first down after another, driving down the field. A second touchdown by Edwards-Helaire to make it 21-17. The Raiders took over and proceeded to run over the Chiefs defense. At the start of the fourth quarter, Carr connected with tight end Darren Waller to make it 24-21.

But Las Vegas went three-and-out on its next drive. On 3rd and 5, Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill made a crucial first down catch, and the Raiders were flagged for unnecessary roughness. That added 15 yards to the catch-and–run. Later, on 4th-and-1, Mahomes found receiver Demarcus Robinson; as the drive continued, running back Le’Veon Bell rushed in for the touchdown.

With the score 28-24, the Raiders took over. Once again, the Chiefs defense struggled to contain them. They added to their woes with two huge penalties — one for offsides, another for unnecessary roughness. Then Las Vegas was hit with a false start penalty. After a lengthy drive filled with drama, Carr hit tight end Jason Witten for the touchdown.

The Chiefs got the ball with barely a minute to spare. Mahomes fired one pass after another, rallying his team down the field. With just 28 seconds left, Mahomes threw into the end zone, finding TE Travis Kelce for the touchdown. That gave the team a three-point lead. The Raiders tried to mount a comeback drive. But then, after hours of struggling, the defense stepped up in a major way. Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen intercepted Carr with just seconds left, sealing the game. The Kansas City Chiefs won, 31-28. They improve to 9-1 for the season.

Seahawks Win Thriller to Stay Unbeaten

By Terrance Turner

In an unbelievable game, the Seattle Seahawks launched a dramatic last-second comeback drive to win their match against the Minnesota Vikings. On 4th down and 10, the Seahawks scored a touchdown to win the game, 27-26. They remain undefeated at 5-0.

The Vikings led by 13-0 in the game’s first half. But Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and the ‘Hawks fought back. They narrowed the lead and then took it. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks led the Vikings 21-19. But just when it looked like Wilson was mounting a game-winning drive, he threw a crucial interception to Vikings player Eric Wilson.

The Vikings later scored to make it 26-21. But there was 1:27 left. Wilson powered the team down the field in just under a minute. But the drive temporarily stalled near the goal line. Inside 10 yards, Wilson misfired again and again, overthrowing on one pass and throwing an incomplete pass on 3rd and 10. Finally, it was fourth down, with only 15 seconds left — just enough time to Wilson to attempt a last-ditch comeback attempt. He did, with a miraculous touchdown pass to receiver D.K. Metcalf.

Chiefs and Texans Unite on NFL Season Opener

By Terrance Turner

Tonight, the NFL season began with a highly anticipated match. The Super Bowl-defending Kansas City Chiefs played against the Houston Texans — but not before a major statement. The national anthem was performed by Chloe and Halle, who wore T-shirts that honored George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — both Black people slain by police this year.

After the anthem, Alicia Keys’ version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (informally known as “the black national anthem” played at Arrowhead Stadium. The Texans remained in the locker room for both anthems, then emerged for an unusual display. After they came on the field, both teams locked arms in a show of unity; in the center were Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Remarkably, fans (who only filled 22% of the stadium) began booing.

There were many opinions about this development:

Another distressing development: the absence of intros. Despite being a Thursday night game, tonight’s contest happened on NBC, which typically airs “Sunday Night Football”. Tonight’s match unfolded much like a typical Sunday night contest, with SNF commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. But the very thing that made “Sunday Night Football” different from every other broadcast — the player introductions, where each player appears on the screen to state his name and the college he went to — were gone. Michaels explained the disappearance of the intros by saying that “we couldn’t get into [training] camps to do them.”

Do players not have smartphones? Are they not able to record their introductions on the field before (or after) the game? Are they not allowed to be filmed in the locker room? Can the players not record intros during the Zoom press conferences while they answer questions? Many observers lamented their absence during tonight’s broadcast:

OK. Back to the game.

The first touchdown of the NFL season came courtesy of running back David Johnson, who rushed into the end zone early to put the Texans up 7-0. Johnson temporarily silenced the deafening chatter of fans who objected to the trade that brought him to the Texans and sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. But it would be the last time the Texans held the lead.

The Chiefs responded almost immediately, with a successful 11-play drive. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce, tying the game. Then the Chiefs gained the lead when Mahomes found Sammy Watkins in the end zone. A field goal by their kicker Harrison Butker put the Chiefs up 17-7 at the half.

In the third quarter, we saw further dominance by rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. (He replaces Chiefs RB Damien Williams, who opted out this season due to concerns about COVID-19. His mother has cancer.) Edwards-Helaire made his debut with a sensational performance, running for 136 yards. His 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter padded the Chiefs’ lead. Then Chiefs rookie L’Jarius Sneed picked off Watson’s pass near the end of the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Mahomes’ interception was negated by a pass interference call against the Texans. Saved by the flag, Mahomes threw a dart to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. That gave the Chiefs a commanding 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Texans managed to make things more respectable: Watson himself rushed in for a touchdown, then later found Texans tight end Jordan Akins for another score. But that would be the end of the scores for the Houston Texans. The Chiefs sealed their fate when Butker drilled another field goal to give them the win: 34-20.

“There’s a lot to fix,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after the Texans’ loss. “It’s only one game. We have to improve pretty quickly. But it’s only one game . We have to get back to work pretty soon and fix these things.” They play the Ravens on Sept. 20.