GAME OBSERVATIONS

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Beyond the Surface: 10 Observations from Chiefs vs. Bengals

The Kansas City Chiefs (6-1) remain unbeaten at home this year after a decisive 45-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals (4-3) on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. The Chiefs made a statement, plain and simple

It was a dominant performance across the board for the Chiefs on Sunday night, and it was also a milestone victory for head coach Andy Reid, who picked up his 200th career win on the night.

After the game, Reid deflected any added attention to the milestone, casually and genuinely stating that he “doesn’t do well with the individual stuff,” adding that he’s had “a lot of great people” around him over the years to help achieve those results.

The Chiefs had a lot of great people on the field tonight to the tune of 551 total yards of offense, while the defense held some pretty good people out there too as they held the Bengals’ high-powered offense to just 239 yards on the night.

After last week’s tough three-point loss on the road to the New England Patriots, there were a lot of people who were curious how the Chiefs would respond to their first loss of the season, and the answer came in the form of a statement—a definitive one at that.

They simply dominated one of the AFC’s top teams.

2. Patrick Mahomes and this offense just keeps rolling

It would be difficult to find a time in recent memory that a 23-year-old first-year starter captivated the NFL as quickly as Patrick Mahomes has done through seven weeks of this season.

He’s the talk of the league right now, and he came into Sunday’s game already leading the NFL with 18 touchdown passes through six weeks, and he didn’t waste any time adding to that total.

After the Chiefs’ defense forced a quick three-and-out to open up the game, Mahomes led the Chiefs’ offense on a 10-play, 95-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a six-yard touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt, who was just getting started on the day.

Mahomes finished the first half completing 19 of 25 for 234 yards and three touchdowns, but he also made plays with his legs—scrambling four times for a total of 45 yards, demonstrating some development in his ability to slide effectively at the end of these runs. That wasn’t always the case, despite his background in baseball.

Some of the most impressive throws from Mahomes on the night that demonstrated the arm talent that’s so quickly followed by any mention of his name were on some of the quick screens to the outside. The ball just gets into the hands of his playmakers so quickly that by the time they secure the ball and look to make a move, there’s still considerable distance between them and the defenders coming down on them.

Those are hidden yards that added to the Chiefs’ 551 on the night, and maybe the best observation from Mahomes’ night was the fact that coming out of halftime—holding a 24-7 lead and starting with the ball—the offense wasn’t going to let up.

On the first play of the second half, Mahomes bombed one 50 yards down the field to Sammy Watkins, who actually made a fantastic adjustment to the ball in the air to grab the chunk play.

Within seconds of the second half beginning, the Chiefs were already in scoring position again.

Mahomes finished 28 of 39 for a career-high 358 yards and four touchdowns—giving him 22 on the season. He’s now just eight shy of tying the franchise record, which was set by Len Dawson back in 1964. It’s Week 7.

The Chiefs also didn't punt one time in the game. It's just the third time in franchise history that's happened.

3. Kareem Hunt had another night to remember

The defense set the tone for their side of the ball from the first three plays of the game—forcing a three-and-out of the Bengals’ offense, but the offenses’ energy and tone was set near the end of their first drive on the best 21-yard run you might ever see on a football field. 

Kareem Hunt, who forced more missed tackles than any other running back in the league last year, gave perhaps the best single effort on a play this year on a second-and-10 play from the Bengals’ 27-yard line. He forced another handful of missed tackles and even leapt over a defender to finish off a run that gave plenty of energy to his teammates.

After the game, Hunt said it’s about playing hard for the guys around you and everyone feeding off each other.

Hunt was the source of much of the feeding on Sunday as he finished with 141 total yards of offense and three touchdowns. It’s the second three-touchdown performance of Hunt’s young career (New England, 2017).

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 21, 2018

4. The Chiefs’ defense dominated one of the league’s top offenses

The Bengals came into Sunday night’s game boasting the league’s No. 6 scoring offense, averaging 29.0 points per game. They hadn’t been held under 21 points in any game up until Sunday night.

They finished with 10 points and just 237 yards of total offense, including having just 100 in the second half, and 54 of those actually came on the final drive after starting quarterback Andy Dalton had already been pulled from the game.

It was everyone making plays for the Chiefs’ defense, which was once again without key players like Justin Houston, Eric Berry and Daniel Sorensen, stepping up to the challenge.

The guys were flying around—contesting everything and playing downhill.

5. Ron Parker’s interception was the mic drop

After Hunt finished-off the Chiefs’ opening drive of the second half with a two-yard touchdown run, which gave the Chiefs a 31-7 lead, the defense had an opportunity to put things away if they could get a game-sealing play, which they did.

Veteran safety Ron Parker, who has played in 96 career games with 11 career interceptions, had never found the end zone…until Sunday night. 

On the Bengals’ first offensive play of the second half, Parker slid underneath a pass from Dalton across the middle and took it 33 yards the other way for the touchdown.

Just like that, the Chiefs had a 38-7 lead and Arrowhead was rocking.

6. The touchdown celebrations were on point

The Chiefs’ offense has put up historic numbers through the first seven weeks of the season—finding themselves within striking distance right now of the NFL’s single-season record for points in a season. It’s a record that’s held by the 2013 Denver Broncos, which put up an average of 37.85 points per game.

And through seven weeks, the Chiefs are averaging 37.14 points per game, and because of all those points, the Chiefs are having to find different ways to celebrate in the end zone, and they are succeeding there as well.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 21, 2018

7. Rookie linebacker Dorian O’Daniel announced himself with authority

After the injury to linebacker Terrance Smith, there was an opportunity for more snaps for rookie Dorian O’Daniel, and he had one play in particular that people are going to remember.

Following Mahomes’ one mistake on the night—an interception deep across the middle on a pass that was intended for Hill but a bit underthrown—the defense had an opportunity to play some complementary football and pick up the offense.

They did.

On the Bengals’ second play from scrimmage following the interception—facing a second-and-6, Dalton tossed a pass out to the edge for running back Joe Mixon, who was quickly and fiercely met by O’Daniel, who displayed the speed to the outside that made him such an intriguing prospect coming out of Clemson this past Spring.

The play resulted in a loss of four yards and gave the rookie a play to hang his hat on that fans are going to remember.

8. Chris Jones, Dee Ford picked up sacks

For the third-straight game, Chris Jones picked up a sack for the defense, and not to be outdone, Dee Ford continued his strong start to the season with a strip-sack of his own.

The defense was getting bodies around Dalton for much of the night and Ford and Jones were a big part of that, even if the plays didn’t always result in sack.

9. The Chiefs capitalized on an early Bengals’ mistake

The Bengals attempted a fake punt early in the second quarter when the game was 7-0 and they were at midfield, and the result was bad…for them.

The snap to the personal protector wasn’t very accurate and the ball was fumbled to the ground and recovered by the Chiefs at the Bengals’ 33-yard line.

Just four plays later, Mahomes hit Hunt in the flat to the right for a 15-yard score and the Chiefs had quickly grabbed a 14-0 lead.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 21, 2018

10. The Arrowhead crowd made their presence felt

The weather was perfect, and the crowd was electric. It was a perfect night for football.

It was described throughout the week as what was going to be the “quintessential portrait” of what the NFL is all about in one of the league’s greatest venues, and it didn’t disappoint.

The noise Chiefs Kingdom brought caused multiple false start penalties by the Bengals’ offense, and the guys did their part as there was plenty to get loud about as the Chiefs decisively handled one of the AFC’s top teams in every facet of the game.

“The crowd tonight was amazing,” Reid said to open his postgame press conference. “They were out there at 5:30 this morning, in line, and it was incredible. They were warmed up and ready to go. It was a beautiful thing.”

Photos from the Chiefs Week 7 matchup against the Bengals

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