By Hal Estep
Sunday’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals had all the ingredients for a Chiefs rebound from last week’s loss. Kansas City wore their red on red uniforms- aesthetically pleasing, and usually a sign that the Chiefs are about to go off.
They have only worn those uniforms once in a non-division game, and that was the famous 41-14 Monday Night mauling of the Patriots in 2014.
This factor, combined with it being a Sunday Night game at Arrowhead Stadium made the Chiefs favorites. Not only that, but the Bengals are historically terrible on Sunday Nights.
Under head coach Marvin Lewis, they are 0-7 on Sunday Night Football. Perhaps Sunday was the night it changed.
The Chiefs dominated the Bengals from start to finish. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was brilliant all night long. He corrected all of the early mistakes from last week, and put on a show. Mahomes threw for 358 yards and 4 touchdowns. He became the youngest quarterback to have six straight games with 300+ passing yards, as he continues his tear through the record books.
Running back Kareem Hunt had a great game, catching 2 touchdowns and running for another. Hunt ran tough the entire game, refusing to get tackled on first contact. On one play, Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick seemed to have Hunt tackled in the backfield, but Hunt broke the tackle, and hurdled another Bengals defender for a 20+ yard gain. He also stiff armed Cincinnati linebacker and resident cheap shot artist Vontaze Burfict so hard that Burfict had to leave the game.
Speaking of players stiff armed to the shadow realm, Chiefs safety Ron Parker returned with a vengeance. Quarterback Andy Dalton had one turnover in the game- an interception to Parker. He ran it all the way back for a touchdown, redeeming himself after he was victimized by a Rob Gronkowski stiff arm last week.
The Chiefs defense performed incredibly well overall. Cincinnati’s offense is much better than the Broncos or Jaguars offenses- opponents Kansas City has faced recently- yet the Kansas City’s defense held them to only 10 points. The Chiefs have held opponents to 17.0 PPG at home this season.
Outside linebacker Dee Ford recorded a strip sack in the first half. Ford is an interesting piece of the Chiefs defense; he’s on his contract year, yet is on pace for his best season in the NFL.
The Kansas City has already paid top dollar to retain another pass rusher in Justin Houston, and it hasn’t worked out as well as they had hoped for. Ford’s best year is on par with Houston’s 2nd or 3rd best year before he was paid, so Chiefs fans are weary of paying top dollar to the inconsistent pass rusher.
Finally, some unsung heroes emerged for Kansas City. Two backups- Jordan Devey and Andrew Wiley- started on the offensive line in place of the injured Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, respectively. Devey started in place of Morse, but wasn’t noticeable.
Wylie started in place of Duvernay-Tardif, and he was certainly noticeable for all the right reasons.
He threw a hard block on Burfict in the first half that had the headhunting referees on notice. Later in the half, Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap pushed Mahomes out of bounds a bit late.
It didn’t seem major, but Wylie immediately defended his quarterback. It’s always important to show you have your teammate’s back, especially when he’s the team’s crown jewel like Mahoes is. The offensive line has done a terrific job protecting Mahomes, only allowing 8 sacks in 7 games.
These positives came with a price. Legendary NBC play-by-play commentator Al Michaels jinxed the perfect season of kicker Harrison Butker, who missed a 53-yard field goal. After Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker’s extra point perfection was also jinxed on Sunday (222 for 222 entering Sunday’s loss to New Orleans), it appears that no streak is holy.
With the 45-10 victory, Kansas City remains in 1st place, but the Los Angeles Chargers are knocking at the door with a 5-2 record. Next week, the Chiefs have their second meeting with the Denver Broncos in Kansas City. Kickoff is set for noon on CBS.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org