The Kansas City Chiefs held on to defeat the Green Bay Packers, 13-7, on Sunday afternoon behind stellar performances on both defense and special teams before the offense – despite struggling throughout the game – finished the contest with a huge play of its own.
Clinging to a six-point lead at midfield on third down with two minutes remaining in the game, Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled to his right before firing a dart to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who hauled in the pass to move the chains and secure the victory.
The possession – which immediately followed Green Bay's first points of the game that uncomfortably narrowed the Chiefs' advantage – marked Kansas City's first foray into Packers' territory in the second half, but when the game hung in the balance, Mahomes and the offense came through.
"If you've seen us over the last few years – no matter how we're playing – [Head] Coach [Andy] Reid has the confidence in us and gives us the confidence [in ourselves] that we're going to make something happen," Mahomes said. "That's what happened today."
Mahomes completed 20-of-37 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown in the game, finding tight end Travis Kelce for a 1-yard score on Kansas City's opening possession. The Chiefs tallied 15 plays and marched 59 yards on that series before Mahomes found Kelce in the end zone, marking what turned out to be a critical score in a game where points were at a premium.
The Packers, meanwhile, seemed in position to at least answer the Chiefs' score with a field goal on their next possession, but kicker Mason Crosby's 40-yard boot sailed wide left and Green Bay came up empty despite driving just outside Kansas City's red zone.
That was the first of several special teams' gaffes by the Packers, as Crosby's next kick – a 37-yard attempt on Green Bay's next series – was blocked by defensive end Alex Okafor to once again hold the Packers off the scoreboard. Then, following a Chiefs' punt a bit later, coverage man Malik Taylor muffed the kick and Kansas City recovered, leading to a successful, 24-yard field goal by kicker Harrison Butker to extend the Chiefs' advantage in the moments that followed.
The fumble was the cherry on top for Chiefs' punter Tommy Townsend, who turned in perhaps his best outing as a professional on Sunday. The second-year punter dropped five kicks inside the 20-yard line, repeatedly forcing Packers' quarterback Jordan Love – who was making his first-career start in lieu of Aaron Rodgers – to go the length of the field. In fact, Townsend was the first player in the NFL this year to land five punts inside the 20-yard line.
"This had to be his finest game. He did a tremendous job," Reid said. "Field position was a key [element] of this game, and he took care of that."
Kansas City then continued its flawless performance on special teams on its next series, as Mahomes – who took over with just 27 seconds remaining in the first half – quickly guided the offense in position to set up a 55-yard field goal for Butker that gave Kansas City a 13-point advantage. Altogether, the efforts of Butker and Townsend alone were special in that the Chiefs became the first team to down 5+ punts inside the opponent 20-yard line and connect on a field goal of at least 50 yards since Buffalo did so early in the 2018 season.
It was crucial, too, because that would complete the scoring for Kansas City. The offense struggled to get much of anything going in the second half, but just as the special teams' unit came to play, the defense was also at its best on Sunday.
The Chiefs harassed Love all night, recording seven quarterback hits and a sack while preventing the former first-round pick from getting into any kind of rhythm offensively until late in the game. Defensive end Frank Clark, in particular, was responsible for three quarterback hits all by himself.
"We're getting healthy – that's the No. 1 thing – and we're starting to get back into the flow as a group. I feel like that's what's been happening," Clark said. "The camaraderie in practice has been high and guys are starting to respond better to the task at hand. We're just going out there and having fun again."
The defense also managed to take the ball away from Love, as cornerback L'Jarius Sneed recorded his first interception of the season midway through the fourth quarter. Sneed's pick ended a 14-play series for Green Bay that otherwise looked bound to tally points, further exemplifying a tremendous overall performance.
Green Bay did manage to finally break through when Love found wide receiver Allen Lazard for a 20-yard touchdown a drive later, however, setting up Kanas City's final possession with the game on the line.
Mahomes connected with Kelce for 22 yards on the second play of the series before hitting wide receiver Mecole Hardman for nine yards a bit later, ultimately leading to a long third down at midfield that required 10 yards to move the chains and end the game.
Kansas City could have opted to run the ball or attempt a short pass in the spirit of continuing to run clock while also acknowledging that a punt was forthcoming, but the Chiefs instead played to win the game right then and there with a pass beyond the marker, and the duo of Mahomes and Hill delivered.
"Coach Reid believed in us. He put the ball in my hands and called a play for Tyreek," Mahomes said. "They did a pretty good job of covering it at first, but I thought the offensive line did a great job of giving me a pocket, and when I scrambled out, I saw Tyreek and knew that if I could get it to him, he could make a play on it – and he did."
The victory meant that Kansas City moved to 5-4 on the season, and while it wasn't the Chiefs' prettiest game from an offensive standpoint, Reid pointed out that it's certainly better to chase improvement following a victory when compared to the alternative.
"You have to bear down every week the best you can and find a way to win. I thought our last drive was vintage Patrick, Kelce and Tyreek," Reid said. "There's things we can work on, but I'd rather work on getting better [after winning the game]. We finished this one."
In terms of injuries, offensive tackle Lucas Niang (ribs) left the game early on and didn't return. Otherwise, Reid didn't have any injuries to report post-game.
The victory now sets up a major clash this upcoming Sunday, as Kansas City travels to Las Vegas to take on the division-leading Raiders.