The Kansas City Chiefs and Tennesse Titans played an old-school brawl type of football on Sunday Night Football. It wasn’t pretty and it should have been an easier win for the Chiefs, but sometimes you have to win ugly.
The Chiefs and Titans played an old-school mid-90s Esque football game on Sunday Night, the type of game that is long remembered for moments and not for the game itself. The Chiefs and Titans scored 37 combined points in an overtime win where the winning team had almost tripled the yards and double the time of possession and won by three total points. It was an ugly game, but the Chiefs need to win ugly games if they want to compete in January and play in Arizona in February.
With that in mind here are the takeaways from the slugfest which took place on Sunday Night under the lights.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is Wide Reciever 1
JuJu Smith-Schuster has been consistently one of the best wide receivers for the Chiefs over the first half of the season, and on Sunday Night he played a very solid game against a very tough defense. He totaled 10 receptions for 88 yards and only missed two catches all night.
JuJu is on pace to break the 1,200-yard mark and have a career season in Kansas City and he has been one of the best wide receivers in the league. Late in the game against the Titans, JuJu and Travis Kelce switched responsibilities, where JuJu ran Kelce’s routes and Travis cleared space for JuJu. It was really impressive to see JuJu take on the first-option responsibilities down the stretch of this game and see him thrive.
JuJu could take routes underneath and get extra yards by putting his shoulder down and fighting through contact on shorter routes. He and Travis Kelce have been safety valves for Patrick Mahomes this season and it should be fun to see what JuJu can do for the rest of the year.
The Defensive Line’s Adjustments Made All the Difference
The Chiefs’ defensive line had a rough first half, allowing over 180 yards by an offense that had no receptions by a wide receiver. Derrick Henry found holes when the defense overreacted to the motion of the offense or went into the wrong gap, but mostly the defensive line failed to make a push on the line of scrimmage.
Derrick Henry had two rushing touchdowns on long drives where the Chiefs gave up three 30+ yard plays. The defensive line was getting pushed around throughout the first half, and it was frustrating as they also had three offsides penalties leading to easy scores by the Titans. Kansas City then made an adjustment at the half which made them look unstoppable and held the Titans to 35 total yards in the second half.
The biggest adjustment was the lineups the Chiefs deployed on the defensive line, Derrick Nandi and Mike Danna were taken out and Carlos Dunlap and Khalen Saunders came in. From then on, the defensive line was able to hold up against Derrick Henry and the Titans’ offensive line.
Then when the Titans got behind the sticks, Carlos Dunlap, Chris Jones, and Khaled Saunders dominated their men and got sacks and pressure throughout the second half. The defensive line may have found their pass-rushing unit in this game as they head toward the second half of the season.
Don’t Take Patrick Mahomes for Granted
The Chiefs’ offense was stagnant throughout most of the game, the run game couldn’t get going and the Titans were able to get coverage sacks on every drive where the Chiefs’ had momentum. But Patrick Mahomes decided to take matters into his own hands in the fourth quarter, helping to tie the game.
The Titans should be familiar with Mahomes’ scrambling capabilities, the most famous play of his career is a scramble against the Titans in the AFC Title Game. But after giving up another sack, Mahomes had finally had enough. The receivers weren’t getting open and the offensive line was barely holding their blocks he saw green grass and took off on a 3rd and 17. He not only picked up all the yards but also got five extra by muscling through the arms of a Titans DB.
Then Mahomes took it from there, throwing incredible throws and marching the Chiefs inside the 10, where they couldn’t get anything going. Mahomes decided to run for the end zone, yet again getting to the goal line and finishing through contact. He then ran in the two-point conversion on the third try after the Chiefs and Titans had multiple penalties.
Mahomes proved one thing yet again, he’s a winner. There were moments in this game where any other person might have hung their head in shame, but not Patrick Mahomes, he was positive and encouraging throughout the game. He made the right plays and was willing to do anything to win this game. If it’s not clear already, Patrick Mahomes is a unique player and there is no one like him in this league.
It’s hard to overstate this so that it will be proclaimed in bold.
DON’T TAKE PATRICK MAHOMES FOR GRANTED!
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