No Kelce No Problem

The Kansas City Chiefs came out and dominated Sunday afternoon. This was the first game that Patrick Mahomes has played this year without the benefit of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the field together. No one knew how Patrick Mahomes would perform without Travis Kelce. Mahomes has been inconsistent throughout the year. Much of that inconsistency comes from the fact that the rest of the NFL has caught up to his impressive abilities. Defensive coordinators have opted to throw complex coverages at him to limit his down the field throws. Yet, over the past few weeks he has become more comfortable throwing against defenses featuring two high safeties. The Steelers only had one superstar receiver to double up and bracket cover with Kelce out. So, which Mahomes would show up? Frustrated Mahomes or the Mahomes that is growing through adversity?

Coach Andy Reid came up with a game plan that featured a mix of run and pass to balance things out on the field. In fact, the Chiefs ran the ball more than they threw on Sunday. 35 runs to just 30 pass attempts. Next, the Chiefs knew that Tyreek Hill would likely be doubled up the whole game. The rest of the offense would have to step up. Running Backs need to perform. Unheralded receivers need to execute. That is exactly what happened. KSU Alum Byron Pringle was the star of the show, hauling in 6 passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns, while Hill was held to two catches for 19 yards. Mahomes was the ultimate general, connecting with nine different receivers, four of which were running backs. Mahomes’s growth was highlighted by his performance in this game. He threw a lot of check downs instead of looking for the big play on every passing attempt. His efforts paid off. Overall, the Chiefs only punted the ball twice out of ten possessions the whole game. Both punts came in the second half. Football isn’t about the stats. It’s about the wins and Mahomes efficiently and effectively led his offense to victory on Sunday.

The Chiefs defense played extremely well. The Chiefs benefited from having L’Jarious Sneed and Chris Jones back on the field. After defeating the Chargers in overtime last week, the defense got back to their suffocating ways. Prior to the Chargers game, the Chiefs defense had held the Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers to less than 10 points. They allowed the Steelers to score just 10 points on Sunday. In fact, they held the Steelers scoreless in the first half.

Overall, the Chiefs are clicking at the right time. The main two takeaways from the game are: Mahomes’s performance and the stellar play of the defense. Patrick Mahomes is growing up before our very eyes. It sounds crazy to say that about a former MVP and Superbowl champion, but it is true. He has grown this season thanks to some negative experiences and the challenges that adversity presents. Mahomes executed the offense at an extremely high level without his number one pass catcher. He executed the offense knowing that his best wide receiver would occupy the attention of the Steelers. The rest of the Chiefs offense executed for their quarterback. Nine different players secured receptions, seven on multiple occasions. The Chiefs are clicking at the right time. That is a scary thought for the rest of the league as we wind down the regular season and get ready for the playoff tournament.

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