The Kansas City Chiefs managed to get back into the win column on Sunday with a victory over the New England Patriots, 27-17, at Gillette Stadium.
Here are some quick notes from the victory.
1. Linebacker Willie Gay hauled in his first interception of the season.
Gay picked off Patriots' quarterback Bailey Zappe early in the third quarter, setting Kansas City up with tremendous field position while notching his first interception of the season. The play helped assemble a stretch of Sunday's game in which the Patriots ran just two plays amidst a run of 17 unanswered points for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs remain the No. 3 scoring defense in the NFL through 14 games, yielding just 236 offensive points on the season.
2. Fifteen different Chiefs have recorded at least a half sack this season.
The Chiefs tallied four sacks on Sunday, as cornerback Jaylen Watson, defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, defensive end Charles Omenihu and linebacker Drue Tranquill each brought down Zappe over the course of the game. It was Nnadi's first sack of the year, making him the 15th member of the Chiefs to record at least a half sack on the season.
Only Detroit, with 16 players, features more defenders with at least a half sack this year.
3. Sunday's game marked a historic meeting in the history of the NFL.
The game on Sunday marked the first time in NFL history that the head coaches on either sideline combined for 500+ regular season victories, with each coach having at least 200 wins to their name. The two coaches – Chiefs' Head Coach Andy Reid (255 wins) and Patriots' Head Coach Bill Belichick (301 wins) – combined for a whopping 556 regular-season victories entering the contest.
The next closest game of that magnitude in league history took place during the 1987 season, when Miami Dolphins' Head Coach Don Shula (251 wins) faced off against Dallas Cowboys' Head Coach Tom Landry (245 wins).
4. Rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice set a franchise record on Sunday.
Rice caught a team-leading nine passes for 91 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, marking his seventh receiving score of the year. The former second-round pick now has the most receiving touchdowns by a rookie in team history, passing Frank Arbanas, Stephone Paige, Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, who were all tied with six.
The SMU product made some big catches in critical moments, too, hauling in three grabs on third down that moved the chains. In all three instances, Kansas City needed at least four yards for a conversion, and Rice came through each time.
Rice now ranks third among all rookies in catches (68), third in touchdown receptions (7) and fourth in receiving yards (754). Additionally, since Week 12, Rice ranks second among all players – regardless of rookie status – in catches (32), fourth in receiving yards (334) and fifth in receiving touchdowns (3).
5. Tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire put together a strong performance.
Edwards-Helaire recorded his top statistical game of the season on Sunday, tallying 101 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches. That production included a 48-yard catch-and-run on a screen early in the game that set up Rashee Rice's touchdown, marking the longest reception of Edwards-Helaire's career. He also recorded a tremendous, leaping touchdown grab a bit later for his first receiving score of the season.
Edwards-Helaire is just the third running back to record 100+ scrimmage yards against New England this year, joining the Dolphins' Raheem Mostert (127 yards) and the Bills' James Cook (102 yards).
6. Tailback Jerick McKinnon threw the first touchdown pass of his career.
McKinnon recorded the first touchdown pass of his career on Sunday as the triggerman at the center of a trick play in the red zone.
On the play, left guard Joe Thuney – not center Creed Humphrey – snapped the ball to McKinnon, who was lined up in the shotgun with quarterback Patrick Mahomes in a three-point stance to his left. Thuney was actually lined up to Humphrey's right on the play, too, presenting a completely unique formation – and an unbalanced front – to the Patriots' defense. Upon taking the snap, McKinnon moved to his left before flipping the ball to Rice, who was coming across the line of scrimmage from the other direction. Rice then followed his blocks into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown.
It was a brilliant play design that paid off with a touchdown, and for McKinnon, he's now one of just three players – joining Raiders' wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and Saints' tight end Taysom Hill – to catch, pass and rush for a touchdown this season.
7. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes recorded another game with 300+ passing yards and multiple touchdowns.
Mahomes threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, marking his 37th career game with 300+ yards and multiple scores through the air. The reigning league MVP leads the NFL in that category since 2018 by 13 games, and in the context of his career, Mahomes has hit those statistical marks in a remarkable 39 percent of his starts.
Mahomes currently leads the NFL in completions (353) while ranking fourth in passing yards (3,703) and fifth in passing touchdowns (25).
8. Cornerback L'Jarius Sneed continued his outstanding season.
Sneed was tremendous once again on Sunday, limiting those in his coverage to just three receptions for 34 yards. His performance earned the top Pro Football Focus grade of any Chiefs' defender for the game.
The veteran cornerback has been targeted a team-most 72 times this season, but on those targets, he has allowed only 38 completions (52.8%) for 382 yards and zero touchdowns. Sneed, who has often been tasked with covering the opponent's top option this season, is the most targeted defensive back in the NFL yet to allow a receiving touchdown.
9. The Chiefs locked up an eleventh consecutive winning season on Sunday.
Kansas City secured its 11th straight winning season on Sunday, which is the longest active stretch in the NFL and seven seasons ahead of second place. The Miami Dolphins (4) and Buffalo Bills (4, but on the verge of 5) own the next closest active streaks.
Additionally, the streak is the fifth-longest in the Super Bowl Era, trailing only the 1966-85 Dallas Cowboys (20 straight), the 2001-19 New England Patriots (19 straight), the 1983-98 San Francisco 49ers (16 straight) and the 1966-80 Oakland Raiders (15 straight).
10. Kansas City can clinch the AFC West with a victory on Monday.
The Chiefs can clinch an eighth-straight division title on Monday with a victory over the Raiders due to the various tie-breaking scenarios utilized by the NFL. A win over Las Vegas would secure an overall record of no worse than 10-7, a division record of no worse than 4-2 and a record in common games shared with the Denver Broncos of no worse than 8-4.
The Broncos could technically tie the Chiefs in all three of those categories, but while division record and common games are the first two tie-breakers used, the Chiefs would have the edge in the third tie-breaker – conference record – over Denver.
Simply put, with all of that in mind, the Chiefs can clinch the AFC West title on Monday with a win over the Raiders on Christmas Day.