Kansas City Chiefs

Nine subtle moments from the Chiefs’ win over Chargers (plus two from Patrick Mahomes)

Andy Reid after Chiefs win in Los Angeles: ‘Tyreek...he kind of got things going’

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid spread the accolades around between quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and others after the teams 38-28 win against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center.
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Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid spread the accolades around between quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and others after the teams 38-28 win against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center.

There is too much football, always, so even after an Insta-reaction and a game column and a podcast and 5,000 words of nonsense there are STILL some plays worth talking more about.

Here, then, is a place on the Internet where we can do that.

If this is something you’re into, please let me know, and we’ll keep it going throughout the season. Either way, Lynn is going to do some interesting Chiefs film review stuff every week.

If not, no worries, I have some important journalism to do. Maybe I can find a guy who writes Andy Reid letters or something.

Anyway, I could’ve filled this entire thing with throws by Patrick Mahomes, but wanted to look at some more subtle plays that could be worth remembering as the 2018 Chiefs find their way.

Here is why the Chiefs signed Ron Parker

He’s not the athlete he used to be, and he got caught on a few deep routes against the Chargers, but he’s intelligent, aggressive, and fluent in Suttonese. This is a third down, on the Chargers’ first possession. They go no-huddle, thinking they have an advantageous personnel matchup, and they probably would’ve had the first down if Parker hadn’t known exactly what they were doing the whole time.

Watch him creep down from the top of the screen, time his rush perfectly, and fill the hole between Melvin Gordon and a first down.

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Dee Ford played one of his best NFL games

This is the sack that was essentially worth three points because it pushed the Chargers out of field-goal position. It’s a good one to watch, too, because it’s not the speed rush around the end we’re used to seeing. This is Ford rushing from the middle, and beating left guard Dan Feeney first with hands (shucking him to the left) and then with his feet (bursting to his right).

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More Dee

This may have been my favorite snap of his. Lined up on the outside, he shakes backup tackle Sam Tevi nearly off his feet, and then is too fast for guard Forrest Lamp. He’s the reason Philip Rivers flushes out, and then nearly catches him from behind after turning around.

Ford is crucial to the Chiefs’ success this year, and this could be his most encouraging snap. He’s beating a double team, and maybe you want to see him do that against a starter before getting too excited, but this is exactly the kind of pressure the Chiefs need opposite Justin Houston and in front of that secondary.

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Wasn’t all good from Dee

He still presents some liabilities in the run game. Here, it appears his eyes are following Melvin Gordon in the backfield, losing contain on Travis Benjamin in motion. It’s an easy mistake to make, a split second of focus on the wrong thing, but once Ford takes those steps toward the top of the screen it leaves a 19-yard gain open on his side.

To be fair, he made a few nice plays against the run, but these are the moments that keep him from being reliable.

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Triple option!

Mahomes had some spectacular moments, some of them really subtle, like a 50-yard flick that would’ve been a touchdown at the end of the first half if not for a remarkable play by Derwin James.

But this low-key might’ve been my favorite play. Tyreek Hill comes in motion to the left, then back to the right and behind Mahomes as the ball is snapped. Mahomes’ first option is to hand to Kareem Hunt up the middle, but once the end dives down Mahomes keeps and starts to his right.

He has Anthony Sherman as a lead blocker, and Hill as the pitch man outside. The defensive back (smartly) takes the pitch away, which means Mahomes keeps for a first-down run and (importantly) a slide before getting knocked. Without having to worry about the end, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is able to get into the second level and clear more space.

Such a cool play. Please do this more.

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Anthony Hitchens turns into DJ

This screen pass looked like a big gainer. The Chargers caught the Chiefs on a blitz, so there were five Chiefs defenders and three Chargers (including Rivers) behind Melvin Gordon when he caught the ball. The numbers were in his favor, including three linemen right in front of him.

Right guard Michael Schofield took out corner Orlando Scandrick, and left guard Dan Feeney had Anthony Hitchens lined up. If he makes that block, Gordon still has one more lineman to follow up field for a possible touchdown.

But then here comes Hitchens looking a bit like a rocket ship and a lot like Derrick Johnson before last season, ninja-ing under Feeney and wiping out the play.

Seriously, even the high-stepping celebration looks a little like DJ. Hell of a play.

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Orlando Scandrick’s very bad moment

Keenan Allen is one of the league’s best receivers, and he’s not yet injured, so there’s no shame in getting beat here. That’s not the point. The point is that Scandrick doesn’t give himself a chance.

He’s in man coverage, and tries to press Allen at the line of scrimmage. That’s probably a bad idea in any circumstance, but it’s a disastrous one when Allen is in motion, and there’s no help over the top. This is as easy a touchdown as the Chargers are likely to score this year, and basically a carbon copy of Chiefs’ fans worst fears.

Also, I assume that whippersnapper Allen is doing some sort of Fortnite celebration?

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Steven Nelson’s very bad moment

You know what? This actually wasn’t as bad as I feared watching live. I mean, to be clear, it’s never not bad when a receiver is THIS open*. But on the replay, it looks like Nelson heard something to make him think the ball had been thrown to the underneath receiver.

That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Nelson is a good corner. He shouldn’t have turned his head and quit on Benjamin like that, but if you’re freaking out about the secondary, this isn’t the play.

*Maybe not as bad as being the receiver and dropping this pass, but still.

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A shovel pass like no other

All this trick stuff works because the Chiefs have so many weapons, but seriously, who thinks of this?

The offensive line is blocking to the right, selling an outside run for Kareem Hunt, and every Chargers defender is fooled. That would’ve been enough for a traditional shovel pass, but noooooo, Reid is apparently bored with traditional shovels so he has Hunt lift his arms so the ball could be flipped through the space between his arms and stomach and, well, if you don’t mind I’m going to plagiarize myself here:

Literally, the play called for a shovel pass to go through the league’s leading rusher from last year so that the fastest man in the sport could stroll into the end zone at a leisurely pace.

This clip is extended long enough for Tyreek Hill’s backflip, which he said he did “to show my little athletic ability.”

Good thing, because nobody knew he was athletic before.

“I shouldn’t have (done) it,” he added. “Because I started cramping right after.”

OK, that’s funny.

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Fine, fine, fine. Here are some Patrick Mahomes throws that didn’t make the highlights but still made me giggle

Here’s a football thrown off balance and more than 50 yards in air with all the obvious effort of a free throw.

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This is a huge moment. Chiefs are at their own 11, third and long, and a punt gives the Chargers good field position and an invitation to make this really close against a gassed defense.

Mahomes gets out of the pocket to avoid the high rush. He’s probably more comfortable drifting to his right than he is in the pocket, so this is a good thing. He has space, and sees Tyreek Hill open over everyone but the deep safety, so here’s a little 40-yard-improvised-pitch-and-catch near the sideline to extend a drive that ends with a perfectly thrown touchdown pass on a wheel route run by the fullback who’s playing tight end.

You know, as people do.

As a bonus, watch how Hill gets open. He sells the post route, and waits until the exact moment the safety turns his hips, then breaks to the sideline. At some point, I’m going to write a column about how the fastest man in football would still be a good receiver if he had normal receiver speed.

As a second bonus, notice Kelce wide open at the bottom of the screen. Mahomes is unimpressed. He wants more. There will be times the risks don’t pay off, but when they do, it’s a lot of fun to watch.

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Sam Mellinger

Sam Mellinger is a Kansas City Star sports columnist.

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