Chiefs vs. Falcons: 10 Observations

Here are some things that stood out during Sunday’s game

The Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) did it again, winning in improbable fashion, as they beat the Atlanta Falcons (7-5) by a score of 29-28 Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.

Here are 10 observations from Sunday's game:

  1. Incredible couple of plays and moments for veteran safety Eric Berry

He spoke about it briefly this week, but Eric Berry's return to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, which is also where Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute is located and where he underwent chemotherapy treatments while battling back from Hodgkin's lymphoma more than a year ago, was going to mean something to him.

At the time, Berry only wanted to focus on the game. He didn't want to get caught up in all of the emotions that would come along with this game, and then, late in the first half, he made a play that brought the emotions out of everybody.

The NFL's reigning "Comeback Player of the Year" picked up his second pick-6 of the year, which ties him for the most in the NFL, late in the first half off Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and returned it 37 yards for the score.

Just a few weeks ago, Berry also had a pick-6 on a childhood friend, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. That play propelled the Chiefs to a late win over the Panthers. Berry now has five interception return touchdowns in his career, which is second in franchise history (Bobby Bell, 6, 1963-74).

Berry's score on Sunday broke a tie game and gave the Chiefs a 20-13 lead with less than a minute to play in the first half.

After he scored, Berry took the ball to his mother, who was in the stands.

From one unbelievable moment to another.

  1. Berry scores two points on interception return

When adding in the context of what it meant in the game, Berry's interception return on the two-point conversion attempt may be something you never see again.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons took a 28-27 lead after a Matt Ryan 5-yard touchdown pass to receiver Aldrick Robinson, and the Falcons decided to go for two points to try and make it a three-point game.

That's when Berry stepped in front of a crossing route, intercepted the pass and raced 99 yards the other way to give the Chiefs two points. It gave them the lead right back.

The Chiefs would get the ball back as well, and two first downs later, they had run out the clock and won the game.

Berry had a pick-6 and a pick-2 in the same game, both of which gave the Chiefs a lead.

What a homecoming.

  1. Chiefs offense was magnificent on Sunday
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Overall, the Chiefs offense had maybe their best performance of the season on Sunday, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

All week, the talk was of the Falcons' explosive offense and all of their playmakers—guys like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and company.

The Chiefs stepped up to that challenge.

The Chiefs ran 48 offensive plays and accumulated 389 yards, which is an average of 8.1 yards per play. That was better than the Falcons' 6.3 yards per play. The Chiefs also overcame a turnover and 128 penalty yards and still found a way to pull off another win against a quality opponent on the road.

The Chiefs have now gone on the road and beaten the two defending conference champions (Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers), as well as the Oakland Raiders (9-2) and now the division-leading Falcons.

  1. Chiefs red zone defense holds strong
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Early in the game and with the Falcons offense moving the ball with some ease between the 20s, the Chiefs defense, on two consecutive occasions, bowed up with their backs against the wall inside the red zone.

The Chiefs defense came into the game at No. 5 inside the red zone—allowing just 48.6 percent of drives to result in touchdowns. On Sunday, it kept the Falcons to two 22-yard field goals from Matt Bryant, and the Falcons went 1 of 3 inside the red zone in the first half.

The first drive that stalled for the Falcons was a result of a sack by Justin Houston on third down, which marked the fourth sack of the season for him.

Midway through the third quarter, the Chiefs defense once again stepped up as the Falcons decided to forego a field goal attempt and go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Chiefs 10-yard line.

Ryan's fourth-down pass attempt fell incomplete as he threw on the run outside of the pocket and the Chiefs offense took over while leading 27-16.

  1. Chiefs get tricky, score touchdown on fake punt

Early in the second half and with the Chiefs holding a 20-16 lead, they were facing a fourth-and-short from their own 45-yard line.

After a pass completion to rookie Tyreek Hill came up a yard short on third down, the Chiefs quickly raced to the line of scrimmage to try and attempt a fourth-down play, which forced the Falcons to use a timeout because they weren't ready.

After the timeout, the Chiefs looked to have changed their mind and lined up to punt, which many thought would have been the original call, but then long snapper James Winchester direct snapped the ball to receiver Albert Wilson, who raced up the middle 55 yards for the touchdown.

The fake punt and touchdown gave the Chiefs a 27-16 lead early in the second half.

  1. Alex Smith puts together one of his best games as a Chief
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Alex Smith finished Sunday's game 21 of 25 for 270 yards and a touchdown, and it's arguably one of his best games under center for the Chiefs.

It wasn't a surprise that the offense was going to have to move the ball and put up points against this Falcons team, whose offense leads the NFL in most explosive categories.

The Chiefs were going to have to try and match that if they were going to win this game, and led by Smith, the Chiefs offense rose to the challenge and matched that production.

Smith's 10.8 yards per attempt on Sunday is a number that jumps out, and it makes sense that they'd take as many shots down the field as they did against a Falcons defense that runs a lot of single-high safety.

Smith had a 125.0 passer rating, which marks the 30th time in his career as a starter that he's recorded a 100-or-better passer rating when attempting 20 or more passes. He's 29-1 in those contests.

Leading 29-28 with just over two minutes left in the game, the Chiefs faced a third-and-6 from midfield. If they picked up the first down, they'd be able to run out the clock.

If they didn't, the NFL's most explosive offense would have a chance to get within field goal range for an attempt at a game-winner from 41-year old kicker Matt Bryant, who hit from 59 yards to close out the first half.

Smith dropped back and fired a strike across the middle to Albert Wilson, who gained 10 yards on the play and gave the Chiefs a first down.

Ballgame.

  1. Travis Kelce goes off again
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For the third straight week, Travis Kelce gained at least 100 yards receiving, becoming the first player in the NFL this season who can say they accomplished that feat.

On the Chiefs first offensive drive of the game, Kelce caught consecutive passes of 21 and 35 yards, respectively, to help the Chiefs offense go 77 yards on four plays for a touchdown as they responded to a quick-scoring Falcons drive.

Kelce finished the game with eight receptions on eight targets for 140 yards, which is a career high for him. Many of those yards came via after the catch, which was something discussed earlier in the week as he leads the NFL in YAC among tight ends.

On the Chiefs' final drive of the game, just before Wilson's key third-down catch, Smith went to Kelce on second down for a gain of 14 yards, which kept the chains moving to set up the game-clinching throw from Smith to Wilson just a few plays later.

Kelce stepped up in a big way on Sunday, and he also moved into second place on the all-time list for receptions by a Chiefs tight end, as his eight receptions give him 204 for his career, second only to Tony Gonzalez (914).

  1. Dee Ford and Dontari Poe play after being listed as questionable
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After not practicing all week, defensive lineman Dontari Poe was active for Sunday's game after being listed as questionable on the official injury report sent out on Friday afternoon.

Another player who was questionable coming into the game was linebacker Dee Ford, who had missed the previous couple of games, as he's dealing with a hamstring injury.

Poe finished the game with two tackles and two quarterback hits, while Dee Ford finished with one tackle.

  1. Chiefs offense responds after Falcons' opening touchdown
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The Falcons didn't waste much time moving the ball to begin this game—marching 81 yards on 10 plays and finishing their opening drive with a Devonta Freeman 1-yard touchdown run.

Less than five minutes into the game, receiver Julio Jones had 52 yards receiving and the Falcons had a 7-0 lead.

But the Chiefs offense would respond.

In just over two minutes, Smith and the Chiefs offense went 77 yards, which took just four plays.

Hill got things started by taking a jet sweep 18 yards around the right end, then Kelce responded with back-to-back receptions of 21 and 35 yards, respectively, then Spencer Ware finished it off with a 3-yard touchdown run.

All week, the talk was about the Falcons' explosive offense, and it didn't take long for the Chiefs to show they could move the ball pretty well too.

Photos from the Chiefs Week 13 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons

  1. Andy Reid goes for it on fourth down, leads to Spencer Ware touchdown

Andy Reid wasn't holding anything back on Sunday, and that might never have been more evident than his decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Falcons 3-yard line midway through the second quarter.

The Chiefs were trailing 13-6 at the time and the play call was perfect.

On a play-action pass, Smith rolled out to his left and found a wide-open Spencer Ware in the flat. Ware took a couple of steps and he was in the end zone for the touchdown.

It tied the game at 13-13 with 7:10 left in the first half.

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