Turnovers and special teams are the two biggest momentum changers in all of football. The Chiefs made big plays on both ends against Denver on Sunday.
In football, momentum can change on a dime, and can often be the difference between winning and losing football games. Momentum can be created by a lot of things, but mostly it comes from either big plays from the offense (which we have seen plenty of in Kansas City over the past few seasons), or by turnovers created by the defense and big special teams plays. This week we got to see all three on full display but the Chiefs defense recorded four takeaways, and the special teams tallied one big play.
The defensive turnovers were great, and they were the culmination of an overall good effort from Steve Spagnuolo’s unit. The player that I felt made the largest impact on the game didn’t record a turnover, but he did make Drew Lock’s life very hard.
Chris Jones had one of his best games of the season, and applied constant pressure on Drew Lock all game long. He also did his part to help stop the run.
Jones makes all of the above plays happen, but it the effort from Wharton that forced the turnover. A year ago he was making plays that the division two-level, and now he is making them at the next level. If he keeps showing effort play in and play out like this he will form out a nice role on this team for a long time to come.
The Chiefs had constant pressure in the face of Lock all day, and that lead to the play that would eventually open the flood gates. The clip below is a testament to the unit’s relentless pressure on Lock, as well as Daniel Sorensen’s ability to make clutch plays when needed.
The pressure continued as the game went on and Lock was never able to get into a flow, which lead to several three-and-outs for the Broncos.
Charvarious Ward and Sorensen lead all Chiefs this week with nine total tackles each, and Ward even managed to come away with the sack above. The secondary is starting to get back to how we saw them perform last year after a tough week five matchup against the Raiders.
After missing a few games with an elbow injury, and being limited last week, Khalen Saunders looked like he was taking steps in a positive direction, and even made a few nice plays in his return to action. If Saunders can get to the level we saw him play at last year in the playoffs, then he will help make the defensive line unit even better than they already are. Wharton has been filling the role that many expected Saunders to have this year, but having that much depth at DT is just a bonus.
On the final turnover of the day for the Broncos, it was Tyrann Mathieu that made the play. He gives up a step to the inside but he keeps running and contacts the receiver just as he catches the ball, which was enough to get the ball out for the interception. Good things come to those who perform play in and play out.
Dave Toub’s unit even got in on the action with a giant 102-yard kick return from Byron Pringle. This was the first time we got to see Pringle in this role during meaningful game reps but if he keeps getting chunks of yards like this it will likely be his position to stay moving forward.
The Chiefs won this game using all three phases of their team, and it really looked effortless from start to finish. They knew they were the better team, and they came in and took care of business. Seeing a team win like this for Kansas City is encouraging because it will only make them stronger down the stretch run into the playoffs, but give the teams they have to play against an even smaller margin of error. Should be another big week for the team as they get ready to play the New York Jets this upcoming Sunday.