The Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) won their third straight game as they defeated the Cleveland Browns (2-6-1) by a score of 37-21 Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.
Here are 10 observations from the game:
1. The Chiefs tied a franchise record
For the fifth-straight game, the Chiefs scored at least 30 points, which ties them for the franchise record. It’s also their 8th game this season of at least 30 points, which also ties them for that franchise record.
It’s only Week 9.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes finished 23 of 32 for 375 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. It’s a career-high for Mahomes in terms of passing yards.
Running back Kareem Hunt finished with 16 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns, and then he also caught one pass for 50 yards that resulted in a touchdown. He now has eight touchdowns in his last three games.
Tight end Travis Kelce led the Chiefs’ receiving corps as he finished with seven receptions for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
2. Hunt had got it going early
Hunt grew up just 19 miles from FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland and attended Willoughby South High School.
And as it was reported throughout the week, Hunt purchased more than 100 tickets for the kids at his alma mater to attend Sunday’s game, and many of them were on the sidelines before the game.
We even had his high school coach—Matt Duffy—join us on our “Field Pass” pregame show, and Hunt gave them a show, particularly early.
On their first offensive drive, the Chiefs’ tossed a second-and-10 screen pass to Hunt from midfield, and he did the rest thanks to some nice blocking down the field. The play resulted in a 50-yard touchdown.
It was tight end Demetrius Harris who finished things off with a phenomenal block, which gave Hunt an easy path to the end zone. It was his fifth touchdown in his past three games, and he’d add another one late in the first half—a one-yard score that extended the Chiefs lead to 21-9.
3. Browns got aggressive early with a fourth-down call
The Browns showed some aggressiveness early in the game—going for it on a fourth-and-1 from midfield on their first drive. It set the tone for what new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens wanted to do in this one as he was calling plays for the first time in his professional career.
They picked up the first down on a run up the middle from Nick Chubb, but later on the drive, a third-down drop by receiver Damion Ratley stalled their drive and they had to punt it away.
The Browns came into the game leading the league in dropped passes (6.9 percent). The stop allowed the Chiefs to grab an early lead.
4. Chiefs brought the blitz and Jordan Lucas got the sack
Leading 7-0 and with the Browns facing a third-and-7 from the Chiefs’ 24-yard line, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton dialed up a safety blitz and brought Jordan Lucas off the left side of the offensive line.
It was Browns’ left tackle Greg Robinson—the former No. 2 overall pick who was starting in place of Desmond Harrison, who was out with an illness—that gave Lucas a free lane to Mayfield.
Lucas brought Mayfield down for the first sack of his career and the nine-yard loss forced the aggressive Browns to settle for a 51-yard field goal, which brought the score to 7-3 midway through the first quarter.
5. Spencer Ware steps up in the passing game
It was the perfect call in the right situation.
With the Chiefs leading 7-3 and facing a usually-drive-killing third-and-19 from midfield, Andy Reid called a screen pass to Spencer Ware, who weaved his way through the defense and was able to pick up 25 yards to extend the drive.
It was a chance for the Browns to grab some momentum and stop the Chiefs’ league-leading offense, but instead, it was just an opportunity for another Ohio native—Ware, who grew up in Cincinnati, to make a huge play and keep the train moving forward.
A few plays later, ANOTHER Ohio native—tight end Travis Kelce, who grew up in Cleveland Heights, ran a little wiggle route across the middle and Mahomes threw him a dart for an 11-yard touchdown.
It was one of three key third-down receptions (and conversions) for Ware on the day.
6. The Chiefs led at halftime, 21-15
Outside of a late drive in which they attempted a Hail Mary, which was intercepted with no time left on the clock, the Chiefs only three real offensive drives ended with touchdowns in the first half.
Hunt had two—one rushing and one receiving, and Kelce had the one touchdown reception.
The Chiefs had 297 yards of total offense and went into halftime averaging 11.9 yards per play. They converted two of three third downs and both red zone trips.
Mahomes was 12 of 17 for 232 yards and two touchdowns, with the interception on the late heave towards the end zone.
7. Ware made a phenomenal one-handed catch on third down, which led to a touchdown
On the Chiefs’ first possession of the second half—while holding a 21-15 lead, they faced a third-and-4 from midfield, and once again, the ball went to Ware.
Mahomes’ pass was a little out in front of Ware, who had to fully-extend his arms to barely make contact with the ball before flipping it up to himself and racing 21 yards down the field to extend the drive.
A few players later—facing a third-and-11, Mahomes scrambled up in the pocket and to his left, then sidearms’ it to Kelce across the middle for a first down.
On the very next play, Kelce ran his same little wiggle route as he did earlier, but this time against zone coverage and the defensive back didn’t bite. Although it didn’t matter because Kelce boxed him out and caught the high pass over his shoulder for his second touchdown anyway.
It was shades of Tony Gonzalez and how he always used his body to box out defensive backs.
It’s a play that you’ll see often on Kelce’s highlight reels in the days, weeks and months ahead.
8. Kendall Fuller stepped up to make two big plays on two-point conversion attempts
On two separate occasions in the first half, the Browns’ offense went for two after scoring touchdowns, and on both occasions, Kendall Fuller kept the Browns out of the end zone.
On the first one, Fuller intercepted the pass along the back line, and on the second, he made a fantastic read to see the route in the flat develop for receiver Jarvis Landry, who Fuller immediately tackled upon catching the pass before he could even turn up the field to try and make a move.
It was an easy four-point swing in the Chiefs’ favor.
9. Damien Williams blocked a punt
It was another big play for the Chiefs’ special teams’ units as running back Damien Williams was able to get his left hand on a punt midway through the third quarter, which resulted in a loss of 16 yards and gave the Chiefs the ball at the Browns’ 21-yard line.
The offense didn’t take long to take advantage as Hunt would soon run it in from 10 yards out and grab his third touchdown of the day.
10. Steve Nelson gets the second interception of his career
Late in the game with the Browns driving and trailing by two possessions, Steve Nelson was able to step in front of a Baker Mayfield pass from outside the pocket and come away with the interception.
It was Nelson’s second career interception and essentially sealed the win for the Chiefs.
Photos from the Chiefs Week 9 matchup against the Browns