Chiefs vs. Dolphins: Game Takeaways

Here are a few things that stood out about the Kansas City Chiefs 34-15 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday

There's no such thing as an easy victory in the NFL. 

When Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke of his young team's performance Sunday against the Dolphins, it was easy to tell he was proud of the way his team fought for their first win of the season.

"I was very impressed by them," Reid said. "We are young but they're working their tails off. There are going to be some mistakes and we understand that. They showed great heart and desire today.

"You develop character through the tough times and so this team is showing that and they showed it today."

The Chiefs pulled away late in the game but there were a lot of tense moments throughout it, and several Chiefs players stepped up when they were needed the most.

Pro Bowlers Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry were inactive for the game, and the Chiefs were already missing three original starters on defense in All-Pro linebacker Derrick Johnson, defensive lineman Mike DeVito and veteran linebacker Joe Mays.

On Sunday, this was a group of players accepting and thriving in roles they weren't initially thought to be in, and they played at the level we should have expected after their performance against the Denver Broncos two weeks ago.

The coaching and development of these players over the last couple of weeks shouldn't go unnoticed, and that starts with Coach Reid. 

Let's take a look at the top plays from each of the three areas of the game.

Offense: Knile Davis' 21-yard touchdown run

The first score of this game for either team didn't come until midway through the second quarter. That's when Chiefs second-year running back Knile Davis ran it in from the 21-yard line thanks to some great blocking and a well-designed play call.

Davis took the handoff after the fake sweep to receiver AJ Jenkins, who had motioned into the backfield. But it was key blocks from left tackle Eric Fisher, who had pulled around from his left tackle spot to seal the outside, and rookie right guard Zach Fulton, who sealed the inside of the running lane.

It was a great play all-around from the design to the blocking, and to the ability of Davis to get into the end zone when he was given a lane through the first level of the defense.

Davis said after the game that he was confident about his ability to step in and carry the load.

"I think I stepped up," Davis said. "The offensive line blocked well, I ran hard—made a few mistakes but I took the workload today and I enjoyed it. I've been paying attention to everything Jamaal (Charles) does. He's an excellent teacher, an excellent football player.

"I just had confidence coming in from last game, kind of rolled over coming into this game and there was no doubt in my mind I could fill the role, so I did."

Davis helped a Chiefs offense that had struggled so far this season in the red zone, but on Sunday, converted on three trips for three touchdowns.

Defense: Dontari Poe and Chris Owens bring down Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill

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Several different times in the second half, the Chiefs defense was put in a tough situation to stop the Dolphins when they were driving or had great field position.

But the most important stop came early in the fourth quarter.

The Dolphins had the ball at their own 44-yard line and after a Lamar Miller 9-yard run, the Chiefs faced a second down with just one yard to go.

The Dolphins tried to catch the Chiefs defense sleeping with just a short distance to go for the first down by attempting a pass and defensive linemen Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard forced Tannehill out of the pocket. The pass attempt to the speedy receiver Mike Wallace down the field went out of bounds.

Then on third down, Chiefs defenders Dontari Poe and Chris Owens combined for the sack of Tannehill on third-and-1, forcing the Dolphins to punt.

Poe fought his way through a couple of blockers and Owens came in to finish the job when the play started to break down.

"The defense played well today," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. "They were relentless. They had a rotation going that was phenomenal so guys were able to stay fresh. It was great to see so many guys contribute."

This defensive stand forced a Frankie Hammond punt return, which happens to be the special teams play of the day.

Special Teams: Frankie Hammond's 47-yard punt return in the fourth quarter

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With the Chiefs leading by just six points at 21-15 midway through the fourth quarter, Frankie Hammond took the Dolphins punt from the Chiefs own 4-yard line and returned it 47 yards.

It was a risky decision to try and return a punt inside the 10-yard line, let alone the five, but Hammond's decision ultimately paid off for the Chiefs, who used the great field position to score on Joe McKnight's second touchdown reception of the game and give themselves the two-possession lead.

Reid spoke after the game about his special teams unit, which wasn't perfect during the game, but stepped up when they needed a big one. 

"That was a big return for us," Reid said of Hammond's 47-yard return. "The flavor of the day is you're returning everything. You're seeing teams do that. The bottom line was they fixed the problem and they came back strong that last one. That was a big return for us."

The final takeaway from this game is looking at an area of the offense coach Reid has stressed since he arrived in Kansas City. He often talks about third down conversion rate and success in the red zone.

The Chiefs excelled in both of these areas against the Dolphins.

They converted 9 of 16 third downs, forced the Dolphins offense to just 4 of 15 in the same category and went 3 for 3 in the red zone with touchdowns.

Much of that success can be attributed to the play of quarterback Alex Smith, who finished 19 of 25 for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

Photos from the Chiefs week three match up against the Miami Dolphins.

Coach Reid spoke highly of his quarterback after the game.

"I have full trust in Alex in commanding this football team during the game," Reid said. "He does nothing but make plays out there for us and get people in the right positions. He calms these situations that seem a little chaotic. He just calms it right down and keeps it right and that's hard to find and we're very lucky to have him in Kansas City."

There are a lot of positives to come out of this game for the Chiefs, but coach Reid stressed that while picking up their first win is a positive step moving forward, there's still plenty of work to be done.

"It was a good win," Reid said. "It's a long season so we have to make sure that we keep working. We have a lot of room to improve, but we have good talent on this football team and we'll continue to get better. We can even work a little bit harder than we've been working and focus in a little bit more on our details and get ourselves even better."

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