It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t need to be. The Chiefs stepped up in a major way in Week 2.
Think back to the 2021 version of the Kansas City Chiefs.
That team wasn’t great at responding to adversity. It showed up in the second half of Kansas City’s AFC Championship Game loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, and it was obvious multiple times during the regular season. In losses to the Los Angeles Chargers (Week 3), Buffalo Bills (Week 5) and Tennessee Titans (Week 7), the Chiefs were unable to respond in time to complete comebacks. Those latter two games, in particular, were blowouts. Andy Reid’s squad was plenty talented, but the focus and execution weren’t there. The ability to recover and respond in-game wasn’t, either.
On Thursday night against the Los Angeles Chargers, however, things were different.
From the very onset of the game, it was a struggle for the Chiefs. Offensively, questionable play calls and late-down decisions plagued Patrick Mahomes and company. Multiple running backs made the wrong reads on runs. The offensive line wasn’t faring too well against the Chargers’ new-and-improved defensive front. Heck, even Mahomes himself wasn’t as great as he normally is.
On defense, Steve Spagnuolo’s unit gave up plenty of first downs early on. A combination of missed tackles, too much cushion given up in coverage and a couple of untimely Rashad Fenton penalties contributed to Los Angeles’ early lead. The Chargers, who went into the halftime break with a three-point lead, were up by 10 at two different points in the game (10-0 and 17-7). The Chiefs then went on a 20-0 run to take the lead before a late touchdown cut the final score to just a three-point advantage.
If there’s one thing Kansas City showed in this Week 2 outing, it was heart.
Usual suspects and unexpected saviors alike led to the Chiefs’ comeback. The likes of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones made key plays to bring their team back into the game, with Mahomes making critical throws and Jones almost single-handedly wrecking the Chargers’ offensive line. Wide receiver Justin Watson and cornerback Jaylen Watson, viewed by many as mere supporting depth pieces, accounted for the two biggest plays of the game. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire helped salt the game away with a 52-yard run — the longest of his career by far — in the fourth quarter.
It was a total team effort by the Chiefs. They had so much working against them despite being at home and having arguably the best player in the world on their side. Even in a seemingly unfocused game, one that could likely be graded somewhere between a D-plus to C-plus, Kansas City was able to snap out of its funk in time to right some wrongs and secure a victory. A year ago, it’s worth arguing that this level of response doesn’t happen. The fact that this happened after so many changes during the offseason says a lot. It’s early, but the 2022 version of the Chiefs passed its first major test of the year despite failing the first half of it.
Mark Van Sickle of Arrowhead Report joined me on today’s Roughing the Kicker podcast to talk all things related to the Chiefs’ gritty Week 2 win over the Chargers. For additional commentary on that, check out the full episode below.
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