Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27-24 Chiefs)
Mike The Ace @TheAceWriter
Two of the better teams in the NFL clashed on Sunday afternoon. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs lined up against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. This game can be used as a blueprint for whom the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs are at their best, while also showing their biggest weakness.
The headliner of the game was star wide receiver, Tyreek Hill. Hill broke the game open early with big plays down the field, and the Bucs were fighting to keep up the rest of the way. With about 7 minutes left in the first quarter, Patrick Mahomes found Tyreek Hill deep down the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. The Chiefs would get the ball back on their following drive, and get the ball moving again. Mahomes would find Hill for another touchdown, this one from 44 yards out. Tyreek Hill finished the first quarter with a total of 203 yards.
With a strong first half from Hill, and a good showing from the Chiefs’ defense, this game really should have been a blowout. Patrick Mahomes had a costly red zone fumble in the 2nd quarter but the Chiefs appeared to be headed towards a 20 or 30-point win, regardless. While their high-octane passing attack is what separates the Chiefs from other teams in the league, their biggest flaw reared its ugly head as well.
With a 20-10 lead, the Chiefs were able to maneuver another solid drive that ended with another Tyreek Hill touchdown. Hill would end the game with 13 catches, 269 yards, and 3 total touchdowns. With a 27-10 lead, and 7:00 left in the 3rd quarter, Kansas City would not find the end zone again. The Buccaneers were able to stifle the Chiefs’ running game, while grabbing two interceptions off of Patrick Mahomes in the last quarter and a half. I want to give credit to the Bucs’ defense, as they made the necessary adjustments to give themselves a chance in this game.
I really wanted to see the Chiefs turn to their running backs to generate offense. LeVeon Bell & Clyde Edwards-Helaire are good at both running and receiving the football, but they didn’t get involved the way I expected them to. Andy Reid is usually a mastermind at getting the ball to his running backs, but they struggled to do so in the 2nd half of this game.
The Chiefs have consistently had a problem with extending leads this season, and this game was another example of that. Long drives that end in points are the ideal way to seal a victory once you have the lead. Touches to the running backs generally eat up more clock, and allow the defense to get some rest. Kansas City will need to prioritize this element of their offense, or they could end up blowing a lead in the playoffs.
Tom Brady and his crew were almost able to complete the comeback, but the Chiefs offense did just enough to stay alive. It wasn’t pretty, but the defending champions moved to 10-1 on the season.
Carolina Panthers @ Minnesota Vikings (27-28 Vikings)
In one of the craziest games of the year, the Vikings were able to get a game winning touchdown from an unlikely hero at the last minute. This win keeps the Vikings alive in the playoff race. This game was a thriller down to the last minute, with both teams having a chance to come out victorious.
Kirk Cousins went 34 for 45, with 407 yards, and 3 TDs. He had a good game, overall. Kirk Cousins did have a fumble in this game though, which led to a Panthers touchdown. Dalvin Cook also had a fumble as well, which led to another Panthers’ touchdown. This helped to get them in an early 21-10 hole. The Vikings’ defense was able to hold in the second half, making way for a comeback.
Minnesota was about to get the ball back, down 3, with a little under two minutes left. The Panthers punted the ball back to the Vikings, but the return was fumbled by Chad Beebe. Following the recovered fumble, the Panthers had a chance to close the game out, but the Vikings’ defense held them to a field goal.
Down 21-27, Kirk cousins drove the Vikings down the field, which led to the Chad Beebe redemption story. After working the ball down the field, Cousins found the guy who fumbled earlier, Chad Beebe, in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. The Panthers did get the ball back with time, and got a chance to win the game. The Panthers’ offense drove down the field, but the kicker missed a 54 yard field goal.
I will say, the Panthers did not play poorly, overall. They have been in every game this year and am thoroughly impressed with the way Teddy Bridgewater has played this season. He did have an interception, but that was at the end of the game. The star today for the Panthers was rookie Jeremy Chinn. He was able to score two defensive touchdowns in less than 10 seconds. The first was on a fumble recovery following the strip sack of quarterback Kirk Cousins. The next one was on the Vikings’ very next offensive play. Chinn stripped Dalvin Cook and returned *that* fumble for a touchdown.
The Vikings are still on the right path to the playoffs. I don’t necessarily trust Kirk Cousins, but I love the rookie wideout Justin Jefferson. His play, along with the run game led by a healthy Dalvin Cook, will give Minnesota a chance. They may be able to make a late run for a wildcard spot.