Sunday night’s match-up between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos may have been the best game all season. This contest had it all; division rivalry, playoff implications, great defenses, overtime, and a game-winning field goal. Despite a poor offensive performance, the Chiefs were able to pull out a win that could prove to be a turning point in the season. We learned a lot about the Chiefs last night, so here are the Week 12 takeaways.
Kansas City Chiefs Week 12 Takeaways
Justin Houston Picks Up Where He Left Off
Despite it being his second game back, Justin Houston was a one-man wrecking crew. Houston tallied three sacks and a forced fumble, as well as leading the team in tackles with ten. His had such a big impact in the first half, the Denver Broncos were forced to bench right tackle Ty Sambrailo for former Chief Donald Stephenson.
When someone is coming back from ACL surgery they generally are not at 100 percent their first season, let alone their first game back. Houston seemed to be firing on all cylinders giving everyone flashbacks of his 2014 season. Houston’s return couldn’t have come at a better time either, as Dee Ford missed his second consecutive game and Dontari Poe left early nursing a back injury. If this defensive line can get those two players back with Houston, they could have the best pass rush in the league.
Tyreek Hill Shines On National Stage
Sunday night Tyreek Hill became the first player since Gale Sayers to have a rushing, receiving, and kick return touchdown in the same game. In a game where the Chiefs offense looked terrible through three-quarters, Tyreek Hill was the one bright spot. What’s most impressive is he was able to have this game against the top passing defense without Jeremy Maclin to draw attention on the other side of the field.
On special teams, he easily could have had more than one return touchdown if not for two last second shoe-string tackles. In the fourth quarter, he helped open up the rest of the field as Andy Reid used him largely as a decoy on fake jet sweeps that forced defenders to gravitate towards Hill. Of course, he also caught the tying touchdown as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
Phillip Gaines: A Tale of Jekyll and Hyde
Phillip Gaines had a rough day at the office Sunday. This is his first season playing as the outside corner and has had mixed results. Last night he was burned on consecutive plays to Emmanuel Sanders that gave the Broncos the lead. More than half of the receiving yards he gave up last night were on those two plays. Statistically, it looked really bad for Gaines, but I felt he made some great plays as well as some horrible mistakes.
Gaines more than once was able to get position underneath on slant routes and get his hands on the ball. One of these plays prevented a touchdown on third down, and forced Denver to kick a field goal. Then of course, you had the play where Gaines lost track of where the ball was as it floated over his head, leaving Sanders wide open and resulting in a touchdown. We need to remember Gaines is young and before this season has only played as a nickel corner. He has plenty of talent and with experience, could turn into a viable starting corner.
The Offense is Still Anemic
At the end of the first half, the Chiefs had piled up a total of 17 yards passing after accounting for sacks. The Chiefs once again failed to get more than a hundred yards on the ground. While Alex Smith did eventually end the game with over 200 yards passing, most of that was gained in the fourth quarter and overtime. Smith refused to throw the ball more than four yards down the field. In fact, near the end of the second quarter, Smith was 0/5 on passes traveling more than one yard in the air.
Now we can’t place all the blame on Smith. Travis Kelce dropped three passes in the first half that hit him right in the hands. Chris Conley was unable to find any separation as well, as he was unable to tally a single catch in the first half. This all changed however when the team went into a hurry-up offense at the end of the fourth.
Similar to the Charger game in week one, the Chiefs offense looked like a completely different unit when they started playing in their two-minute package. Smith was throwing the ball downfield more, and Kelce and Conley both were able to find gaps in the defense. Andy Reid needs to figure out a way to incorporate some of those looks into the offense through the first three quarters and maybe then this offense will live up to it’s potential.
Cairo Santos Called Bank
Called the bank shot… just forgot to tell Colquitt. CHIEFS WIN!! pic.twitter.com/3N9Zv2HICJ
— Cairo Santos (@cairosantos19) November 28, 2016
Kansas City really needed this win after coming off a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now they have beaten both the Raiders and Broncos on the road. This will no doubt make the rest of the schedule a bit easier as Kansas City will have the Arrowhead crowd behind them next time they face either of them. Despite all the injuries the Chiefs have had, they’re still finding ways to win, proving how resilient this team can be.