The Chiefs were down 24-0 to the Texans with 10:54 left to play in the second quarter on Sunday. A blown coverage, dropped passes, a blocked punt, and a fumbled punt return had put the Chiefs in a very difficult position. Or at least I thought it was a difficult position. All it took was one spark, one sign of life, to get the Chiefs back into it. On the Texans ensuing kickoff, Mecole Hardman returned the kick 58 yards setting up Pat Mahomes at the Houston 42-yard line. On the next play, Mahomes hit tight end Travis Kelce for 25 yards. Then, from the 17-yard line, Mahomes throws a perfect ball to running back Damien Williams that he would take into the end zone.
From that moment on Kansas City never looked back. They were able to take the lead before halftime and then they went on to own the second half, beating the Texans 51-31. What looked like what was going to be one of the worst postseason blowouts by the Texans, ended up being a blowout by the Chiefs. In one of the craziest games ever played at Arrowhead, there were five things that we learned about this team.
This team can overcome anything
If you would have told me that the Chiefs would have a punt blocked that led to a touchdown, a fumbled punt return on the Houston five yard line that led to a touchdown, a blown coverage on the opening drive that led to a touchdown, and several dropped passes I would have thought that the season was over. That’s not what Patrick Mahomes was thinking. He was calm and collected, telling his teammates on the sidelines to just take it one play at a time.
“The biggest thing I was preaching to the team was, let’s go do something special.” Mahomes said in his post-game interview. “Everybody is already counting us out. Let’s just go play-by-play and put our best effort out there.”
That’s a 24-year-old kid telling a group of men not to worry, he’s got this. And he did. Mahomes, in about nine and a half minutes, threw for four touchdowns and was able to take over the lead and the ballgame. The defense stepped up in a big way too. They recorded five sacks and only gave up one score since going down 24-0. Daniel Sorenson, who may be the unsung hero in all of this, made a critical one-on-one tackle on a fake punt to force a turnover on downs and forced a fumble on the Texans ensuing kickoff return. Both plays resulted in touchdown drives for the offense.
Every phase of this team stepped up after the first quarter collapse. The offense put up huge numbers, after dropping critical pass after critical pass. The defense got pressure and played tighter coverage after blowing a huge play on the opening drive. After the blocked punt and Tyreek’s fumble, the special teams created two turnovers that helped swing the momentum in the Chiefs favor. They were tested in the most extreme way, and they passed.
Andy Reid can put games away
Game after game, Andy Reid has had this tendency to get up on a team early and then pull the reigns, allowing the other team to try to get back in the ballgame. It’s quite infuriating. Sure, it makes the games exciting, and most of the time Andy pulls it out, but sometimes I just want that 40-10 ballgame. A game where Matt Moore finishes it up with two minutes left and Pat Mahomes is wearing a ballcap on the sidelines cracking jokes with the rest of the starters. Well on Sunday the Chiefs went up by 17 in the third quarter and when the Texans scored on the following drive, Andy put his foot on their throats. The Chiefs took 4 plays to go 72 yards and capped it off with a touchdown pass to tight end Blake Bell (And an amazing Stone Cold Steve Austin impersonation from Eric Fisher). The Texans wouldn’t score again but the Chiefs would tack on another field to win the game by 20 points.
Andy could have easily come out on the drive following the Texans score and gone conservative. He could have thought about trying to chew some clock, but he didn’t. He realized that he has the best offense in the NFL at his disposal and he knew that the Texans can’t stop him if they can’t catch him.
Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL
Now let me start this off by saying that I already knew this. I’ve known it for a few years now. But there are some people out there that like to throw George Kittle or Zach Ertz in the mix. Well, they would be wrong. Dead wrong. And yesterday’s performance solidified that statement. Granted, Kelce’s day didn’t start off too hot. It was on the Chiefs’ opening drive, after already trailing 7-0. Kansas City had a 3rd and 6 when Mahomes hit Kelce square in the hands and he dropped it. Ok, it’s one drop, big deal. Well, that drop set up a punt for the Chiefs which was blocked and returned for a touchdown. While the block isn’t Kelce’s fault, it might not have happened had he caught the pass. Well, he would go on to redeem himself. Kelce caught 10 other passes for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns. All three of his touchdowns came in the second quarter, which is an NFL postseason record. He also drew several defensive holding and pass interference penalties that set up multiple touchdowns. The Texans tried to hold him, hit him, and double-team him, but they had no answer for 87.
His playmaking ability throughout this game was really just an extension of how he had played this entire season. Kelce had the fourth most receiving yards this year and he is a tight end. The second closest tight end was George Kittle and he was 23rd on that list. Kelce has shown up every week and this game was no different.
Frank Clark was worth every penny
When the Chiefs traded a first-round pick for Frank Clark in the offseason and then signed him to a five-year $105.5 million contract, I was concerned. I was concerned mostly because I didn’t watch a lot of Seahawks games and I didn’t know much about Clark. It is also a lot of money and the Chiefs had just traded away Dee Ford and released Justin Houston. Was Clark any better than those two? At the beginning of the season I would have said no. He only had one sack in his first six games as a Chief. But then there was a report that Clark had been playing the first half of the season with a pinched nerve in his neck which caused him to miss two games and then when he came back there was another report that said he was battling the flu. Even with all this going on, Clark was able to register a sack in five of his last seven games. Then on Sunday, Frank Clark showed us why the Chiefs are giving him all that money. Clark took down the elusive Deshaun Watson three times, one of which he chased Watson around the pocket for what seemed like ten seconds. The final sack was Houston’s final offensive play which kept them from scoring late.
The reality of Clark’s situation (and any player’s situation for that matter) is that the Chiefs don’t pay him to make plays in the regular season. They pay him for the playoffs. They pay him to be that difference-maker when it matters the most. Nobody cares how you do against the lowly Broncos in October. They care about the playoffs, about Sunday’s game and about next Sunday’s game and about the one in February. Frank Clark on Sunday made every Chiefs fan think that he was a bargain.
Patrick Mahomes is STILL the MVP
When they announce the 2019 NFL MVP at the NFL Honors ceremony this year, they will probably call Lamar Jackson’s name. Jackson had a great season. One of MVP caliber. However, he is not the most valuable player in this league this year. That player is the reigning NFL MVP, Patrick Lavon Mahomes. Sure, Lamar had great numbers throwing and running. He is a dual-threat for sure and he will be a strong quarterback for years to come. But at the end of the day, he’s not Mahomes. No one is. No one can take a team, down 24-0, and throw four touchdowns in less than 10 minutes. It wasn’t even one quarter. It was 10 minutes. He did whatever he wanted behind the line of scrimmage and if the play wasn’t there he would run and pick up the first down.
This wasn’t the first time this year that he threw for four touchdowns in a quarter. He did it against the Raiders in week two. Mahomes is only 24 but he shows the leadership qualities of a ten-year vet. He led the Chiefs on seven consecutive touchdown drives and scored 41 unanswered points. That doesn’t happen in regular season games, let alone the playoffs. So, while Lamar will probably win the MVP this year and continue to watch the playoffs from the couch, the REAL MVP has a shot next Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl. The MVP of that game will be so much sweeter.