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Chiefs vs. Panthers: 12 Observations

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

The Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) beat the Carolina Panthers (3-6) Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, in one of the most improbable victories you may have ever seen.

The Chiefs trailed the defending NFC champions, 17-3, early in the fourth quarter, but would come back to kick two field goals, return an interception for a touchdown, add a two-point conversion and quite literally just take the ball away from one of the NFL's most physical receivers in the final 12 minutes of the game to pull off their fifth straight victory.

It was a game you won't soon forget.

Here are 12 observations from Sunday's game:

  1. Eric Berry's pick-six changed the game

Early in the fourth quarter and with the Chiefs trailing, 17-6, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton brought the house on the blitz on third down, and Cam Newton threw late off his back foot down the middle of the field.

That's when safety Eric Berry jumped up and picked it off and returned it 42 yards for the touchdown.

Berry made several moves and broke a handful of tackles on his way back to the end zone, which marked the fourth time in his career he's done that. That number ties him for fourth place on the franchise's all-time list of defensive touchdowns.

It's the play that changed everything.

  1. Marcus Peters makes the best/craziest play you might have ever seen

With the score tied 17-17 with 29 seconds left the game, the Panthers began a drive at their own 20-yard line hoping to move the ball far enough to give their kicker a chance to hit a game-winning field goal, but what would transpire over the next seven seconds is something you might never see again in a football game.

Panthers quarterback Newton threw a 14-yard pass out to the right to receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who attempted to get a few extra yards while second-year cornerback Marcus Peters did everything to rip the ball right out of his hands, which is exactly what he did.

Peters (6 feet, 196 pounds), who is five inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than Benjamin (6 feet 5, 246 pounds), wouldn't be denied in his effort to take what he believe is rightfully his, at least that's how he explained it after the game in the locker room.

Peters took the ball away and returned the interception-fumble-play 10 yards to the Panthers 24-yard line with 13 seconds left in the game, which helped set up Cairo Santos' game-winning 33-yard field goal as time expired.

  1. Dee Ford and Chris Jones with back-to-back sacks

Third-year outside linebacker Dee Ford picked up the first sack of his day and 10th of the season late in the third quarter in the midst of a Panthers drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock.

Ford used his bread-and-butter move—a speed rush off the edge—to corral Newton for a loss of 7 yards and set up a third-and-18 from the Chiefs 28-yard line.

On the very next play, rookie defensive lineman Chris Jones sacked Newton for a loss of 12 yards and put the Panthers out of field goal range.

The Chiefs were trailing 17-3 at the time and the defense standing up at the end of a long Panthers drive in the way that they did kept them in the game.

Coach Reid mentioned after the game that he believed this was one of the key moments, or sequences, in the comeback win.

  1. They just don't quit

The Chiefs defense, which came into Sunday's game ranked third in the league by having allowed just 54 total points in the second half of games this season, shut out the Panthers in the second half.

Despite the fact that they trailed 17-3 late in the game, the guys just kept making plays and the defense looked like they were playing inspired football in the second half.

It's the second time this season that they've come back from a 17-point deficit to win a game. In Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers, they did the same thing—winning in overtime on an Alex Smith touchdown run.

  1. Cairo Santos' 33-yard field goal ties the game with 4:25 left in regulation

After a high throw intended for Travis Kelce in the end zone from Alex Smith on third down fell incomplete, the Chiefs had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Santos, which tied the game, 17-17, late in the fourth quarter.

It was quite the turn of events after Berry's pick-six changed the complexity of the game.

In just over eight minutes starting early in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs trailed, 17-3, but scored 14 unanswered points at that time to tie the game after Berry's touchdown and a couple of Santos field goals.

  1. Tyreek Hill steps in and makes some plays for the Chiefs' offense

With the news that veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin wasn't going to play against the Panthers, as he's dealing with a groin injury that's been lingering for a couple of weeks, the question became which receiver would then step in and help make plays for the Chiefs offense?

That player was ultimately Hill, who finished Sunday's game with 10 receptions on a game-high 13 targets for 89 yards, which also led all players.

Hill was the spark the Chiefs offense needed on Sunday, and his 21-yard punt return late in the game also proved to be a key moment in the comeback victory.

Hill's best game so far this season was against the Indianapolis Colts, against whom he finished with five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

  1. Cam Newton's touchdown run is a good example of what makes him special

Just a few plays after Peters attempted to make an interception by hopping a route on second-and-20, the Panthers punched it in for their first touchdown of the day to take a 10-0 lead.

On first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Newton took the quarterback keeper and fought his way through a handful of tackle attempts and reached back and dove for the goal line.

At 6 feet 5 and 246 pounds, Newton showed what makes him special on the touchdown run.

Newton finished the first half with 200 yards of total offense (143 passing, 47 rushing).

  1. Chiefs trailed at the end of the first half, 17-3; they made costly, self-inflicted mistakes

The Chiefs hadn't turned the ball over once during their four-game winning streak, and combined with the fact that they were one of the least penalized teams in the league heading into Sunday's game as well, the fact that they had an interception and were flagged seven times for 35 yards kind of told the story of the first half.

Four of those penalties by the Chiefs were false starts on the offensive line, who were matched up against a tough defensive line that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid called the best they'd face all year.

  1. Chiefs offense got it going to close out the first half

After a late hit out of bounds from Panthers veteran LB Thomas Davis on running back Charcandrick West in front of the Chiefs sideline that drew a 15-yard flag with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the Chiefs offense had a little room to move as the penalty brought them to midfield.

Just a few plays later, on fourth-and-1 from the Panthers 44-yard line, Reid decided to go for it and ran what looked like the same play they used a few years ago in a similar situation against the Buffalo Bills.

It was a misdirection pitch in space to Spencer Ware, who took it 9 yards out to the left and set up Santos' 47-yard field goal, which got the Chiefs on the board at 17-3 with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.

The 12-play, 46-yard drive was the best drive of the first half for the Chiefs, who finished with just 110 yards of total offense.

Smith finished the first half 13 of 19 for 66 yards and an interception.

Photos from the Chiefs Week 10 matchup against the Panthers

  1. Newton finds receiver Devin Funchess for 38-yard touchdown

Late in the first quarter, the Panthers pulled off their best offensive drive of the day—going 87 yards on 13 plays and culminating the drive with a 38-yard touchdown from Newton to Devin Funchess, which gave the Panthers a 17-0 lead.

Funchess looked to have a step on Peters, who was in coverage and made a last-ditch attempt to knock the ball away after Funchess had secured it in the end zone, but it was too late.

Newton finished that drive 4 of 5 for 77 yards and a touchdown.

While his first touchdown showed off Newton's size and strength, the second touchdown (and drive) showed off his arm.

  1. CB Marcus Peters comes within inches of a couple of interceptions

While it doesn't seem like Peters had been tested much over the past few games, that wasn't the case with Newton and the Panthers offense, which threw in Peters' direction several times in the game, particularly early.

While Peters made a few nice plays and was able to break up some passes—almost undercutting a screen on the outside, which would have undoubtedly resulted in a pick-six—Peters was also inches away from making a couple of other interceptions as well.

But it was his takeaway in the final seconds that will be remembered most.

  1. CBs Phillip Gaines, Peters leave briefly

After working his way back from knee surgery that cost him most of last season, third-year CB Phillip Gaines left Sunday's game early with a neck injury. He did not return.

In Gaines' place, Kenneth Acker stepped in for the Chiefs defense at right cornerback.

Acker was acquired via a trade with the San Francisco 49ers during the preseason. Peters left the game briefly after breaking up a pass across the middle, but he'd return after sitting out just one play.

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