The Kansas City Chiefs held on to defeat the Miami Dolphins, 21-14, in Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday to maintain the top spot in the AFC standings.
Leading by a touchdown with just over one minute remaining in the game, Kansas City held on a Dolphins' fourth-down attempt deep in Chiefs' territory to essentially seal the victory. The play served as an exclamation point on an outstanding defensive performance by Kansas City, which held Miami – the league's top scoring and total offense – to its lowest point total of the season.
"[The performance of our] defense was a tremendous achievement," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "[Defensive Coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo did a great job with scheming it, and the players executed very well."
Kansas City shut out Miami through the first two quarters of play, yielding just 100 net yards of offense while forcing five punts and a fumble. It marked the first time that the Dolphins' high-powered offense – which entered the game averaging more than 33 points-per-game – was held scoreless in the first half of a game under Head Coach Mike McDaniel.
That defensive effort helped set the tone throughout the game, but before the defense even took the field, the Chiefs' offense made a statement of its own with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive on the opening series of the game.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed five passes – each to a different player – on the drive, finding wide receiver Rashee Rice for an 11-yard score to complete the series. Mahomes then had the Chiefs back in the end zone late in the second quarter when he found tailback Jerick McKinnon for a 17-yard score.
The latter touchdown marked the conclusion of a 95-yard scoring drive that included big plays from wide receiver Kadarius Toney (18 yards) and wide receiver Skyy Moore (23 yards) before McKinnon hauled in the score, pushing the Chiefs ahead by two touchdowns.
Miami appeared poised to narrow the deficit before halftime, however, as the Dolphins' fast-paced offense quickly moved into Chiefs' territory on their ensuing possession. In fact, Miami connected on back-to-black plays of double-digit yardage – moving into Kansas City territory – before Dolphins' quarterback Tua Tagovailoa tossed a quick screen to wide receiver Tyreek Hill along the line of scrimmage. Hill attempted to get around the edge, but Chiefs' cornerback Trent McDuffie – while making the tackle – managed to knock the ball free from Hill's grasp.
The fumble was then scooped up by safety Mike Edwards, and following a brief return, he flipped the ball into the arms of fellow safety Bryan Cook, who galloped down the sideline for a 59-yard touchdown.
"Once I got it, I felt Tyreek on my ankles, so I was about to get tackled," Edwards explained. "I looked back, saw my boy BC, and I trusted him. I pitched it back, and he did the rest."
The play – which marked Kansas City's first defensive score of the season – extended the Chiefs' lead to 21 points heading into halftime, but the Dolphins didn't go away. Miami tallied 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull within a single touchdown, but on each of the Dolphins' final two drives – both of which marched into Chiefs' territory – Miami recorded zero points.
That included the aforementioned fourth-down play, when Tagovailoa – from the Chiefs' 31-yard line – mishandled the snap and went down for a sack. In many ways, that final play mirrored the tone of the game, which was largely dictated on the Chiefs' terms from start to finish.
"I loved our energy, and the way that the guys rebounded from that game against Denver," said Coach Reid. "All of those things are so important to making a good football team, and our guys did that [today]. Last week, we were off. This one here, they weren't going there. You could just feel it."
The performance also provided the thousands of fans in attendance with an experience that they surely won't soon forget. The Chiefs were technically the "home team" for the game, and while it took place more than 5,000 miles from Kansas City, there was a palpable excitement for the defending Super Bowl champions in the stands.
"The crowd was unbelievable," said Coach Reid. "I'm going to say that we won in the crowd. There was a lot of red there."
In some additional good news, Coach Reid had no injuries to report following the game.
The Chiefs will now enjoy a bye week before taking on the Philadelphia Eagles at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 20.