Chiefs beat Steelers: 10 winners and 7 losers
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Pittsburgh Steelers Youth Travis Kelce Jersey , 42-37, to improve to 2-0 to start the 2018 season on Sunday afternoon.Here are the game’s winners and losers:WinnersThe king of Kansas City.Photo by Justin Berl/Getty ImagesThere are almost no words for the game Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes put together against the Steelers on Sunday. Mahomes finished 23 for 28 for 326 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and a near-perfect passer rating of 154.8. Mahomes’ 10 touchdowns in his first two games this season set a two-game NFL record, surpassing Drew Brees (2009) and Peyton Manning (2013), who each recorded nine in their respective years. It is an unbelievable start to Mahomes’ time as a starting quarterback.It is really beginning to feel like the Chiefs brain trust (John Dorsey, Andy Reid, Brett Veach and Clark Hunt) may have made one of the most important trades in the history of the league when they moved up 18 slots in the 2017 NFL Draft in a trade with the Buffalo Bills to select Mahomes. At the time, the Chiefs still had Alex Smith with another two years left on his contract, yet they believed in what they saw in Mahomes enough to go get him. They were right.Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty ImagesThe Chiefs’ golden trio—otherwise known as Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins—were clicking on all cylinders on Sunday. Last week, it was the Hill show, with Kelce and Watkins combining for only 27 receiving yards. But Sunday against the Steelers was a completely different deal. Each player was involved in the win. Kelce finished with seven receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns, Watkins finished with six receptions for 100 yards and Hill finished with five receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Seven different players had receptions for the Chiefs on Sunday. Of the three, it was most refreshing to see production from Watkins. The Chiefs featured Watkins early in the game and he helped set the tone for the day. It was Kelce’s 13th career game with more than 100 receiving yards.Kareem Hunt also had a productive game with 18 carries for 75 yards, as well as one catch that went five yards for a touchdown. Hunt was held to less than 50 rushing yards last week against the Chargers and he responded nicely. Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty ImagesBelieve it or not, Demarcus Robinson’s score was actually the first regular-season touchdown of his career. Perhaps even more shockingly, Chris Conley’s was just his second. Robinson did an excellent job getting two feet in bounds the back of the end zone on his score. Amazingly, seven different Chiefs have receiving touchdowns through two games.Good on De’Anthony Thomas to get his own fumble back on what equated to a 48-yard return. It set the Chiefs up with a short field and set the early tone for the day.Anthony Hitchens led the team in tackles for the second game in a row (12). Much was made about what James Conner might do this week , and the Chiefs run defense held him to just 17 yards on eight carries. I also thought Steve Nelson did a good job managing Antonio Brown, who is undoubtedly one of the better receivers in the league. Brown finished with just nine catches for 67 yards. Allen Bailey recorded his first sack since Week 3 last season.LosersCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsThe Chiefs secondary/pass defense had an awfully tough time with Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who exploded for 13 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Steelers tight end Jesse James added five receptions for 138 yards as part of Ben Roethlisberger’s 452-yard game. The lack of depth in the secondary hadn’t truly hit me until Steve Nelson needed to be helped off the field to end the first half. Had Nelson not been able to go, the Chiefs would have had to deal with Brown, Smith-Schuster and James with Kendall Fuller, Orlando Scandrick and Tre Smith. I don’t know if, in that case, 42 points would have been enough.I hate to do this because I always lean on the game being long enough for human error to correct itself, but it definitely felt like the referees left something to be desired on Sunday. How Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t beyond the line of scrimmage on that one play in question is beyond me. In addition, it really didn’t seem like Conner broke the plane on his touchdown. Unless the Steelers offensive line is one of the best in the league, it also seemed like Roethlisberger had all the time in the world. I thought there could have been a few more holding calls on Pittsburgh, especially early in the game. All that being said, it’s worth noting the calls were even by game’s end. The referees called 12 penalties on the Steelers and 12 on the Chiefs. Speaking of holding calls, Orlando Scandrick cannot take that holding penalty that negated the Chiefs’ defensive touchdown. You saw the domino effect. Rather than deflating the Steelers, they were given new life. One touchdown following the penalty turned into three, and in a flash, that 21-point lead was gone. I think Eric Murray knows he has to have that sack, and the Chiefs may beginning to rethink their plan with Breeland Speaks. Sunday was not Speaks’ game.I asked Reid a while back what Spencer Ware’s role would be this year, and Reid Youth Mitch Morse Jersey , using coachspeak told me he figured Ware to be a starter. Ware has just four carries through two games. When it comes to the running backs, Hunt is the guy. There is no sign of a committee in Kansas City. Me. That’s two weeks in a row I was wrong by picking against the Chiefs. A couple of you have already reached out and encouraged me to pick the San Francisco 49ers. While I’d love to oblige, it is going to be hard for anybody to pick against this offense moving forward.Five things to watch as the Chiefs face the Patriots With Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes currently leading greatest-of-all-time, All-Galaxy quarterback Tom Brady in almost all NFL passing statistics — and with the Chiefs at 5-0 and the New England Patriots at 3-2 — the national media is all over this game.They’d like you to believe that this game will determine if Mahomes is taking “the torch” from Brady’s hands.But it won’t.Just as the win against the Denver Broncos gave the Chiefs a firm grip on the steering wheel of the AFC West, this game is about whether the Chiefs can get control of the wheel for the entire conference.As for that torch thingy... it will just have to wait its turn.Mahomes already has his hand on it, but actually wrestling it away from Brady is going to take more than a regular-season win against the Patriots — even in Foxboro.And it’s going to take more than a Chiefs loss to break Mahomes’ grip, too. So let’s all settle down, and keep an eye on five things to watch during the game:1. The chess gamePhoto by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBOWatching Andy Reid and Bill Belichick coach these games is like watching two old guys who have sat across from each other at the same chess board in the park every afternoon for the last 20 years.Each intimately know the other guy’s strategies and how to defend against them; more often than not, they fight a battle of attrition that results in a narrow win for one of them.But once or twice a week, one of them manages to mask an unexpected parry with what seems like a dumb pawn-grab — or manages to execute a successful flanking attack with his knights or bishops — leading to a sudden collapse by his opponent.The 2015 playoff game between these two teams represented the norm between these two coaches: a narrow win for the Patriots determined by small battles won and lost.But the two other games between these teams since Reid arrived in Kansas City were the other kind — where Reid completely flummoxed his longtime adversary with unexpected moves that left him flat-footed.This game should be more like the norm.Belichick has already admitted that the Chiefs may have too many weapons for his usual go-to strategy — that is, to simply take away the other team’s best weapon — to work.And Reid may have exhausted his inventory of plays and approaches the Patriots won’t expect.All that may be left for each coach is to declare outright war — to have their defenses pin back their ears and go after the other king with everything they have... to fight for every square on the board.The trouble is that Belichick’s aging, traditional king can only move one space at a time when it is under attack.Reid’s is the late-model king that can move more like a queen when under attack — and even mount a counterattack of its own.2. The depth gameComing out of the Jacksonville Jaguars game with multiple injuries to their starters, the Chiefs are about to find out what kind of depth they have at crucial positions; it’s hard to imagine a tougher test.Some Chiefs fans believe they already know the answer to this question; I’ve seen Twitter posts about the “bums” the Chiefs have added to the roster to play against New England.But that’s missing the point.Those guys aren’t meant to play against New England — although some of them may see the field.Those guys are meant to back up the guys who will play against New England.Some of these backups who will be thrust into starting roles have seen significant playing time on special teams.Somebody has to take those snaps.And if they get hurt — or simply need a couple of snaps off — someone has to be there to step in.This is pretty simple math, my Chiefs brothers and sisters.When the backup becomes the starter, you have to have another backup.Still... players like Jordan Lucas, Breeland Speaks and Jordan Devey will have their work cut out for them on Sunday night.Lucas was a very pleasant surprise against Jacksonville, Speaks was better than many would have expected, but Devey didn’t really have enough snaps to give us a clear picture.Should he struggle, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Andrew Wylie go in for him.3. The interior gamePhoto by Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesAs The Nerd Squad’s Craig Stout noted Sammy Watkins Jersey , history shows us that Chiefs edge rushers have had little success in getting pressure on Brady.Brady simply gets the ball away too quickly for edge rushers to get to him.If Brady is going to see pressure, it’s going to have to come from the interior of the Chiefs defensive front.And we all know that getting pressure on Brady is one of the keys to beating Brady.Yes... Allen Bailey, Xavier Williams and Chris Jones, we’re looking at you.Just a few weeks ago, few of us might have thought this was even possible.But in recent weeks — especially against the Jaguars — all three seemed to have stepped up their games.That needs to continue on Sunday for the Chiefs to have a chance of stopping the Patriots offense.If the Chiefs defensive interior can play with the intensity and swagger they displayed against the Jaguars and Broncos, that will go a long way to getting the Chiefs to 6-0 Sunday night.4. The running gamePhoto by Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesThe Interwebs are crawling with pundits giving the Patriots advice on now to beat the Chiefs.This is a real through-the-looking-glass moment for Chiefs fans; it’s been a long time since national pundits regularly concerned themselves with helping Chiefs opponents figure out how to beat the Kansas City juggernaut.But I digress.These pundits are suggesting the Patriots try and keep the Chiefs off the field as much as possible by establishing its running game against the Chiefs.If the pundits were advising the Chiefs, the advice might be the same; the Patriots offense was slow to start this season but has scored 38 points in the last two games.Neither team has so far demonstrated a strong rushing attack — but neither team is particularly good at stopping the run, either.So it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect both teams to try and slow down the offensive tempo of this game by emphasizing the ground game on offense, and try to depend on late drives to win.In fact, the teams combined for more than 300 rushing yards in last year’s game — with the Chiefs taking a much bigger piece of the pie — and still scored almost 70 points between them.5. The record gamePhoto by Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesYou may recall that last season, much was made of the Patriots’ home record when the Chiefs came to town to open the season.It didn’t faze the Chiefs at all, shocking the Patriots with a 42-27 defeat.But now that last season’s Chiefs victory is in the books, there’s a record on the line.No team has defeated Belichick’s Patriots at home in successive seasons since 2002, when the New York Jets beat the Patriots 10-3 in September of 2001 and 30-17 in December of 2002.But even if the Chiefs can break this streak, Andy Reid won’t spend much time thinking about it.He’ll be on to Cincinnati.
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