Chiefs-Patriots: 6 winners and 3 losers from NFL Week 15
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the winner’s circle this week.
Some might say the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 15 win over the New England Patriots is “fool’s gold” — beating a team with three wins and a backup quarterback is no small feat.
But the Patriots have beaten the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers this season, showing that with good defense and coaching, anything is possible on any given Sunday. However, this Sunday, it was the Chiefs’ turn to frustrate New England fans with a flurry of goals before and after halftime.
The trademark issues were still under attack, but they continued to fight through them. I also felt like they made progress in finding the right roles for some of the minor (and major) bosses.
Here are some who stood out as the Chiefs beat the Patriots 27-17:
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Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: It’s a luxury to have a former first-round pick at the running back position and sitting on the bench. But games like this show why keeping numbers in position makes sense. Edwards-Helaire put together a 100-yard total game this week with a highlight reel catch for a touchdown. He also had the longest play of the game with an incredibly blocked screen that he took for 48 yards. Edwards-Helaire isn’t great at everything, but he showed what he does best this week – catching the ball, running downhill, and occasionally making players miss.
Running back Jerick McKinnon: This game also showcased MacKinnon’s perfect role. He may not have the same level of explosiveness that he once had, but he showed all the tools in this game. McKinnon’s eight touches led to a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown, albeit for limited yardage. Looks like they’re headed to the postseason Jet He will have a valuable role again.
Rice Rashi Wide Receiver: The Chiefs have the No. 1 receiver this season, and he caught all nine of his targets on Sunday, turning them into 91 yards and a touchdown. Rashee Rice has already put together one of the best rookie seasons ever playing for Andy Reid. It hasn’t been ideal (he recovered from his fumble this week), but he’s gotten more comfortable playing outside the structure with Patrick Mahomes, and he’s making plays every week. He’s already head and shoulders above the rest of the wide receiver room, and the arrow still points to Rice.
Linebacker Willie Jay Jr.: This looked to be a very good play from the entire linebacker room, as Leo Chenal picked up a pass, Drew Tranquille got a sack, and Bolton looked more like it. But Gay’s interception early in the third quarter allowed the Chiefs to advance to a two-score game. The defense would then go on to force four punts and turnovers on downs in New England’s last five trips. Gay also had a batted pass in this game, which really showed his ability to contribute when passing opponents.
Edge Charles Omenihu: We could also have picked up a number of Chiefs defensive linemen this week. Derek Nady was credited with the sack, Chris Jones was dominant at times and Mike Dana was annoying as well. But the winner this week was Omenihu, who had a really good rush around the edge and got a sack and nearly a fumble to help end the Patriots’ third-quarter drive. When this group goes after opposing midfielders, everything becomes easier for the Chiefs’ defense, and Umenyehu will be an important factor in how they finish the season.
Defensive back Larios Snead: Snead led the team with nine total tackles, two for loss, and broke up two passes on the day. The broadcasters noted what we all know to be fact, which is that no defensive back can tackle quite like Snead. Sure, there was one play where he was turned over on a pass from Billy Zappe, but Snead made his presence felt in a big way on Sunday.
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Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney: Emblematic of the struggles we’ve seen from the entire stand-up group, Tony still can’t go out of his way to contribute in a positive way. This week, a pass was coming out of his hands and head, then his hands again — and then into the arms of a Patriots linebacker. Mahomes was visibly upset on the sidelines, and for good reason. The four times he targeted Toney led to two catches for five yards and this interception. not good.
Tight end Blake Bell: With the Patriots tying the game at seven, Mahomes targeted the big tight end over the middle on first down. Full-back Marty Mabo outplayed Bale, leading to the opener and a goal that could have swung the momentum in the home team’s direction. Fortunately, the defense held out for a field goal, the offense got on track, and Bell was not targeted again.
Right tackle for Joan Taylor: Sanctions continue to come, and at terrible times. Taylor missed a few blocks as well, but that’s easier to forgive than the penalty killers at a league-leading pace.
NB: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to evaluate their performance in a single game. No disrespect intended.