The Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl! Feels good to finally speak those words to all of you and hear them for myself. The Chiefs beat the Titans 35-24 on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl to play the San Fransisco 49ers. This is the 50 year anniversary of the Chiefs first and only title in franchise history, how fitting for these 2019 Chiefs to get back and bring home the Lamar Hunt trophy. What an incredible season it has been to this point, and after all of the injuries and adversity they faced earlier in the season, they put it together down the stretch on both sides of the ball to get themselves to this point.
There will always be naysayers about this team considering they were “given” the two-seed because the Patriots couldn’t beat the Dolphins in week 17, didn’t have to play the Patriots in the playoffs, and then didn’t have to play the “best team in the NFL” the Ravens because they lost to the six-seeded Titans. But when this kind of stuff, lucky things, happen to the Patriots it’s just normal. Well, now some fortune fell the Chiefs’ way and then they beat two teams they lost to earlier in the season.
But let’s get to one of the biggest reasons why they are where they are; the Chiefs offense became unstoppable and allowed the defense to let loose and be who they are. The Titans went up 10-0 in this game and fans were sweating a bit but the Chiefs were just feeling out the Titans — and then they took over the game. The offense moved the ball at will for the majority of the rest of the game and a huge thanks to the Chiefs’ offensive line should be in order.
I have been one of the harshest critics of the offensive line that I have seen on twitter and in the Chiefs world, but I have got to give them credit when it comes to how they have played this postseason, Mahomes did take a few sacks in this game but watching them, most of the time they gave Mahomes tons of time to go through his progressions. I will give one caveat, the Titans decided to only rush three or four most of the time to try and limit the passing attack of the Chiefs.
But watching these clips, we see an improvement in the stunts department across the offensive line and they are playing as a much more cohesive unit across the board. Communication has improved and even Reiter, who picked up the linebacker in one of these clips, has picked his game up. The second clip in this thread is the most impressive because they give Mahomes nine seconds to navigate the pocket. The play goes for nothing, but that’s an impressive feat for any line. This was what they were built to do and they are doing it better now than they did during the season.
The pass protection against the Titans allowed Mahomes to do anything and everything he wanted during this game. As we know, Mahomes is afforded one of the best offenses in the NFL with some of the best weapon groups around. But even though they are an elite group, Mahomes elevates the offense more than the set of weapons around him does.
Mahomes is always aware of what is around him and what the defense is doing on each and every play. He’s improved his identification of opposing defenses but the biggest thing he can do on any given play is keep the play alive and look for the open man.
His eyes are always downfield and he’s so good at extending plays that the receivers have grown accustomed to improvising after they see Mahomes do the same. In the play above, Mahomes drops back and sees a crease open up to the right; there is some room to run but seeing the defender start to approach him he keeps the play alive and Watkins sees this. He starts to run to the open field and Mahomes delivers a strike to him for a first down.
Mahomes’ athleticism creates opportunities for receivers to find open areas by extending the play and making it difficult for defenses to predict what a receiver will do. Now that he is fully healthy, his athleticism is opening up plays for himself that defenses weren’t accounting for prior. Mahomes has been keeping plays alive and now he is a threat to run when the defense decides to play coverage against him.
No, this is not Lamar Jackson you’re watching run right here, it is in fact Patrick Mahomes. With 23 seconds left in the first half, the Chiefs have the ball on the Titans 27-yard line and they are looking to score before the half to take the lead. The Titans played coverage once again and locked everyone up across the board, Mahomes looked to his left while escaping the pocket and saw green grass in front of him. At that moment he made a decision that will forever be remembered by Chiefs fans.
Mahomes is much faster than people give him credit for and he makes the first defender dive for his legs and he high steps away from the outstretched arms of a would-be tackler. His attention is already on the next closest one and his head fake forces the defender to hesitate slightly, which is all that he needs. He accelerates to the sideline, forcing the next man to fall away out of bounds. Then he tiptoes down the sideline, his eyes focused on the endzone and he knows the Chiefs have timeouts so he doesn’t have to go out of bounds. He cuts inside toward the goal line and amidst some bad tackling and a strip attempt from the Titans, he would not be denied and fights his way into the end zone.
That moment will forever live in Chiefs history as one of the best plays in franchise history and it shows the will and heart of this football team on full display in their quarterback. He’s fast, athletic, smart, and determined, and every one of these traits was on display during that run. As impressive as that run was, we know Mahomes has much more impact as a thrower and that’s where he is an all-time talent.
This play is the reason Mahomes has the attention of the national media, the one thing he has always had is his arm talent. He can make any throw from anywhere on the field even when his feet aren’t on it. Here he starts to break to his left and then he comes back when the edge flashes outside. He settles down in the pocket and then runs to his right, keeping his eyes downfield as he does. Schwartz, you’ll notice, gets just enough of #50 to keep him from altering Mahomes’ throwing motion. Running to his right, Mahomes unloads his bomb, across his body, to a streaking Watkins on third and six to break this game wide open and put the Chiefs up 35-17.
Mahomes obviously has a great supporting cast around him, there is no questioning that, but he does what great quarterbacks do, he elevates the guys around him with the skill set he provides. Speaking of his supporting cast, Sammy Watkins has shown up in the playoffs yet again. He has 204 total yards in the postseason and had a great game against the Titans, which included that great TD you just watched. He has been clutch in the last two postseasons and when it comes down to it, that is the reason he was brought to this team.
Outside of the huge touchdown, he had numerous first down catches on third down that helped keep drives alive. This was the most impressive one to most, because of the cleat drag, but there are little intricacies in this play that make it more fun for people like me. The Titans only bring three rushers on this third down and Mahomes has the entire left side of the field to run for the first down, but he has his eyes downfield and moves to the right with Watkins. he is open earlier in his route he just wasn’t the read yet.
As Mahomes escapes to the right Watkins notices the defender closing on his route so he acts like he’s going to take it upfield which forces the defender to backpedal. This gives him room to make the catch at the sideline and give the Chiefs a first down. Then there is this play, which is just fun to watch altogether.
The Chiefs have matchup problems all over the field, but the biggest one might be Andy Reid vs defensive coordinators. He finds the weakness and attacks it, adjusting the offense to allow for maximum impact. On Sunday Reid used tons of trips-open with Kelce in a reduced split. It wasn’t always Kelce, but a good chunk of the time it was. Reid pummeled the Titans defense with this formation and they really had no answer for it.
Every motion has a purpose, whether it is to give the quarterback a key about the defense pre-snap or like it is used in this case, to clear out a player for an easy touchdown. Hardman and Hill are lined up in a stack with Hardman being the outside receiver. Looking at it pre-motion there are “two” defenders in the way of Hill. The motion of Hardman brings that extra defender to the middle of the field.
Hardman is going to slant to the far corner of the endzone, taking the attention of the deep safety because of his speed. This leaves Tyreek Hill one on one with a corner attempting to play press man. At the snap, Hill breaks down the defender and as soon as he tries to get his hands on Hill he breaks to the outside and gets the step on him. Mahomes sees it and throws a dart to Hill for a touchdown.
If we go back through some of these clips, they are out of this exact formation. The Watkins touchdown, the toe drag, and the clip where Watkins has to snag the ball coming before he knows it all were out of that formation. Reid has bee using this a lot as of late and teams are having difficulty trying to slow down the Chiefs because of it. I would bet the 49ers are going to have something for that, and Reid will have two weeks to plan out all the different ways to screw with the 49ers defense in other ways.
The offense has been so incredible this postseason and watching them against the Titans was no different. They found their groove and never looked back; the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates and they did some things that I still have yet to cover for you. I wanted to make sure I did this review justice for you guys, so it’s a two-parter! This game just had so much in it and we have two whole weeks to relive it, so I’m going to help you do that. Stay tuned!