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GAME OBSERVATIONS

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Beyond the Surface: 10 Observations from Chiefs vs. Cardinals

The Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) remained undefeated at home on the year as they beat the Arizona Cardinals (2-7) Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium by a score of 26 to 14. 

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. Patrick Mahomes sets franchise record

For the last 54 years, the Kansas City Chiefs’ single-season franchise record for touchdown passes in a season belonged to Pro Football Hall of Famer—the legendary, Len Dawson, who tossed 30 touchdowns back in 1964.

The record stood atop the books until Sunday afternoon, when first-year starter Patrick Mahomes tossed a couple of touchdowns to Tyreek Hill to surpass the legend’s longstanding record.

Mahomes finished the game 21 of 28 for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and it was his bullet on third-and-goal from the 14-yard line midway through the second quarter that was his 31st of the season.

It was a perfectly-timed dart between multiple Cardinals’ defenders.

2. The pass rush was a top storyline

The Chiefs’ defense finished with 13 quarterback hits on rookie first-round pick Josh Rosen, who was selected with the 10th overall pick last spring out of UCLA.

Rosen was making his sixth start of the season, and it’s one he’s going to feel on Monday. There was a point in the game in which the Chiefs were taking turns on whose turn it was to get a hit on Rosen.

In fact, Rosen was pressured on 54.5 percent of his drop-backs on the day— the highest-pressure rate by a team in any game this season, per NextGenStats.

Chris Jones led the Chiefs with two sacks, giving him at least one in six-straight games, while Dee Ford, Allen Bailey and Ron Parker all got one as well.

Justin Houston, who had missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, had several pressures and nearly brought Rosen down a few times.

3. Tyreek Hill had another big day 

Hill led all pass-catchers with 10 targets and seven receptions for 117 yards, and with his two scores on the day, the third-year wideout now has nine touchdowns receiving on the season, which is more in just 10 games this season than he did in all of 2017 (7).

It’s his third game of the year with 100-plus yards receiving, and in each of those other games, Hill also had multiple touchdowns.

4. Justin Houston’s interception was the key play of the game 

With the Chiefs holding on to a 20-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and with momentum teetering towards the Cardinals, who had the ball with a chance to take the lead, Houston gave us another game-changing play—something we’ve been accustomed to witnessing over the years. 

On first-and-10 from near midfield, Houston, who was rushing off the right side of the defense, noticed the interior offensive linemen sliding out for a screen, and so he read Rosen’s throw and jumped out to make the interception—giving the Chiefs the ball with great field position and the opportunity to take a commanding lead, which is exactly what they did.

5. Kareem Hunt showed his all-around skillset again

Hunt, who came into Sunday’s game having amassed 553 yards from scrimmage over the previous four games, along with the fact that he also had eight touchdowns over that stretch—both of which ranked second in the league, had another solid performance on Sunday.

Hunt finished with 96 yards of total offense on 18 total touches. He had several tough runs and catches in key situations that kept the chains moving for the offense.

6. Spencer Ware found the end zone for the first time in a while

Three plays after Houston’s interception, Chiefs’ running back Spencer Ware ran it in from three yards out to get his first touchdown since Week 13 of the 2016 season.

“Like a monkey off my back,” Ware explained of his touchdown after the game.

It gave the Chiefs a two-possession lead early in the fourth quarter.

7. Steve Nelson got another game-sealing interception

For the second time in as many weeks, Chiefs’ fourth-year cornerback Steve Nelson walked away with a game-sealing interception. 

Nelson, who came into the game ranked as the No. 13 cornerback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, picked off Rosen with 22 seconds left in the game to seal the win.

It was Nelson’s third interception of the season.

8. The Cardinals attempted an onside kick in the first half

It was something that Chiefs’ special teams' coordinator Dave Toub mentioned earlier in the week, that he was always reminding his guys to watch out for “tricky” things from opposing teams, who might be trying to steal possessions as they face the league’s top-scoring offense.

Well, that came to fruition early on Sunday as the Cardinals attempted an onside kick in the first quarter. It didn’t work and the Chiefs were given great field position. It led to a 45-yard field goal from Harrison Butker.

9. The Chiefs’ offense didn’t waste any time putting points on the board

The Chiefs didn’t win the coin toss for the first time all season, but that didn’t matter much as they went 75 yards on three plays and found the end zone in less than a minute to open the game.

Mahomes hit Hill for a 37-yard strike and they quickly took a lead.

They have now scored 55 points on opening drives this season, which is the most in the league.

10. There were no new injuries to report after the game

Perhaps the best news of the day was when Andy Reid told reporters after the game that there were no new injuries to report.

Besides Houston, the Chiefs also saw the return of veteran safety Daniel Sorensen, who recently came off injured reserve after suffering a leg injury at training camp.

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