Beleaguered defense stepped up for Chiefs

By Steve Sell
October 09, 2018

The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense came to the rescue on Sunday.

Who would ever have thought those words would be uttered this year?

But if the Chiefs’ defense hadn’t stepped up with 5 sacks and 4 interceptions of the under-siege Blake Bortles, who knows how the game would have turned out.

The Chiefs’ defense had its moment in the sun for the first time this season and shows just how scary this team can be when it gets considerable contributions from both sides of the ball. Remember, the Jaguars were in the AFC Championship Game last year and one quarter away from playing in the Super Bowl before New England's Tom Brady worked his magic with an epic comeback.

Critics will point to the yards — Bortles threw for 430 and the running game accounted for another 101 for yet another half-thousand yards allowed. But the bottom line is the 14 points given up, the true measuring stick of a defense. It should be noted Bortles picked up a lot of his yards in garbage time when the Chiefs were conceding 10- to 15-yard passes to keep the clock moving.

I thought Jacksonville’s game plan was wack. The Jags should have kept the ball on the ground to shorten the game. They rushed only 17 times, but averaged nearly 6 yards a pop. But they panicked when they got down and one thing the Chiefs’ defense can do is rush the passer.

It was hardly the Chiefs’ best effort of the year. They again flattened out in the second half when they got a big lead, and Chris Jones and Dee Ford got themselves ejected with some knucklehead actions, part of a big penalty day for the Chiefs who I think were a little full of themselves once they had control of the game.

Andy Reid is a players’ coach and hopefully he’ll sit on them a bit for being too boisterous. Act like you've been there before.

The Chiefs proved they could win without Patrick Mahomes’ A-game. Sure, he threw for 313 yards, but was only 22 of 38 and threw his first two picks of the year, while being shutout in the TD department, though he did run for a score.

His quarterback rating of 72.7 was his lowest of the year and it just shows he’s human. There were very few plays where he walked on water or caused our jaws to drop. You have to remember he was going up against the NFL’s reputed No. 1 defense.

Kareem Hunt provided some tough running with 87 yards to give the offense some balance. I’d still like to see more utilization of Spencer Ware, as he’s a highly capable back and eases some of the load on Hunt, who had 22 carries. You want to make sure he’s fresh because the season could last much longer than it has in the past.

It helps the Chiefs that they start so fast. They seem to pull out all their Christmas presents early in games and then put them back in the wrapper. I don’t think teams adjust to their speed and exotic designs until the second quarter and by then KC generally has a double-digit lead.

The Chiefs are now 5-0 in this gauntlet start, which next week takes them to New England. I talked early in the season how the first six games would make or break their season and that a 3-3 start would probably get them to the playoffs.

But the apocalypse would certainly be upon us if they go into New England and beat the real America’s Team for a second straight year. Can you imagine if the Chiefs can get the better of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at home or the second year in row? That also would give the Chiefs a three-game leg up on the Patriots when you think of home-field advantage for the AFC.

Except for surprising 4-1 Cincinnati, all of the AFC teams have at least two losses. And the Bengals come to town right after KC is at New England as the gauntlet actually extends past the first six games. The Chiefs also host Denver the week after that, but the Broncos are starting to slide as they’re now 2-3. The Chargers are the only other team in the West over .500 at 3-2.

Everything is falling into place for the Chiefs. If they can somehow win at New England, the bandwagon is going to have a waiting list.