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Chiefs vs. Dolphins: 10 Observations

Posted Dec 24, 2017

Here are some things that stood out Sunday afternoon

The Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) won their third straight on Sunday afternoon as they beat the Miami Dolphins (6-9) by a score of 29-13 at Arrowhead Stadium, where they finish the regular season with a 6-2 record.

The win not only gave the Chiefs their second-straight AFC West division title—something they had never done in franchise history, but it also guarantees them a home playoff game.

RELATED: Buy playoff tickets here

Here are 10 observations from the game (and one from right after):

1. Andy Reid’s postgame presser was one to remember

There are no words. Just laughs and smiles.

2. Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ offense makes history

Smith, who had already surpassed his career-high in terms of yards passing in a season before this week, went over the 4,000-yard mark with his performance Sunday against the Dolphins—finishing 25 of 39 for 304 yards and a touchdown.

Tight end Travis Kelce, who needed just nine yards coming into the game to go over the 1,000-yard mark, finished with four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.

With those two milestones being met—plus the previous marks of running back Kareem Hunt rushing for more than 1,000 yards, and receiver Tyreek Hill going for more than 1,000 yards receiving this year, the Chiefs became just the second team in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard tight end, a 1,000-yard receiver, and a 1,000-yard running back.

The 1981 San Diego Chargers are the only other team to have ever accomplished that feat. It’s the sign of a well-balanced offense, and one that’s averaging 6.6 yards per play over the past four games.

3. Harrison Butker sets another franchise record

It’s been quite the season for the Chiefs’ rookie kicker Harrison Butker, who joined the team before the Week 4 game against the Redskins after being signed off the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad.

On Sunday, Butker broke the franchise record for most field goals in a season with 36—passing Chiefs’ Hall of Famer Nick Lowery, who had 34 back in 1990.

Butker finished 5 of 6 on the day, including a long of 49 yards.

4. Chiefs had the momentum from the beginning

On the fifth play of the game, the Dolphins, who had been moving the ball a little bit, faced a third-and-6 from their own 47-yard line, and quarterback Jay Cutler hit two-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry on a short pass to the right.

As Landry approached the first-down marker, veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson—the Chiefs’ all-time leading tackler—hit Landry before he was down by contact and forced the ball to pop up into the air, and but who else was waiting to snag it out of the air than Marcus Peters, who was able to secure the ball and get both feet in bounds.

It was the Chiefs’ eighth forced turnover over the past three games, and at the time, it was the fifth from Peters over the past two games.

Peters, who was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week after his two-interception, one forced fumble performance last week against the Chargers, would make another play late in the game as well.

Late in the third quarter and with the Chiefs holding a 23-13 lead, Peters forced a fumble off Dolphins’ receiver Kenny Stills, which was recovered by safety Ron Parker.

The Chiefs turned that into a Butker field goal.

5. Travis Kelce goes over 1,000 yards

For the second time in as many seasons, Kelce went over 1,000 yards on the season.

6. Alex Smith showed some aggressiveness early in the game

Facing a third-and-15 early in the second quarter, Smith took a shot deep and hit Hill on a 52-yard pass on a post in which there were multiple defenders around Hill.

And despite the solid coverage, Smith made them pay with just a perfect throw. Hill finished the game with six catches for 109 yards.

A few plays later, Smith once again showed some aggressiveness on third down—firing one to Kelce on a little skinny post in the red zone, which resulted in a 9-yard touchdown.

7. Third down was a main story of the day for both teams

Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid had mentioned the Dolphins’ defense and their success on third down earlier this week. They were coming into the game ranked sixth in the league in that category—allowing just 35 percent of third downs to be converted against them.

The Chiefs’ offense finished Sunday’s game 8 of 16 on third down, and the Chiefs’ defense held the Dolphins to 0-8 on third down.

8. Kareem Hunt was a workhorse on Sunday

Chiefs’ rookie running back Kareem Hunt was busy on Sunday—finishing with 29 carries, which ties his career-high (Houston, Week 5), for 91 yards and a touchdown. His 1-yard touchdown late in the second quarter gave the Chiefs a 17-6 lead, and it proved to be the game-winner.

But two plays before that touchdown run, Hunt scampered for a 24-yard gain, and it was due in large part to a key block thrown by Demarcus Robinson on the outside, which allowed Hunt to turn the corner and have a lane down the field.

Hunt also caught four passes for 15 yards on the day.

Hunt now has 1,201 yards rushing this season, which ranks as 10th-best in Chiefs’ history.

9. Eric Murray had a nice pass breakup in the end zone

As the Dolphins were trailing 10-3 midway through the second quarter, they faced a third-and-5 from the Chiefs’ 10-yard line, and Cutler went right after Eric Murray—the Chiefs’ young second-year safety.

And Murray made the play—defending an attempted back-shoulder throw in the end zone on tight end A.J. Derby.

It was a play that might be forgotten after the game, but one that could have changed the complexity of the entire game if Murray hadn’t of stepped up.

10. The locker room was a happy place to be after the game

After coach Reid got everyone fired up in the Santa suit, the rest of the open locker room period was filled with players and coaches taking pictures in their AFC West championship hats and t-shirts, which can all be found at shop.chiefs.com.

While the division title is far from this team’s only goal, the checking-off of the first step in the process was worth celebrating, particularly considering the stretch of tough games this team went through only a month ago.

It was a genuine display of happiness, which is what Christmas and the holidays are all about, right?

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