KC would like to borrow time, or at least its hands
Confetti from an NFL weekend.
The Chiefs did not “shoot ourselves in the foot” Monday night, as Andy Reid said. Their hands were too unsteady for that.
As Pat Mahomes’ drones kept clanging off the fingertips of Justin Watson and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and even Jason Kelce, who might have been confused by the presence of a Swift on the visiting Eagles, it became even more obvious that this wasn’t a Super Bowl rematch. Or a harbinger, either.
Valdes-Scantling had the game on his racket, so to speak, when he couldn’t apprehend Mahomes’ pluperfect long ball. Watson caught an earful from Reid and Mahomes when he ran the wrong route on what would have been a first down, and then dropped another try that would have prolonged another drive.
The Eagles, playing rope-a-dope all along, simply refused to make as many mistakes, waited for a big play, got it on Jalen Hurts’ 41-yard pass to Devonta Smith, and won, 21-17. They are now 9-1 and, even though they now must play Buffalo, San Francisco and Dallas in succession, they have done nothing to derail the notion that they’re the best team in the NFL.
Going into Arrowhead Stadium is a fool’s errand under any circumstances. The Eagles did it without tight end Dallas Goedert, who is out for the season, and with Hurts far from his physical peak. Their best MVP candidate, A.J. Brown, was an afterthought, with one catch for eight yards, and they only ran sporadically, although DeAndre Swift led them on their first TD drive.
But Philadelphia did what more and more teams are doing. It saw a path to victory if it could limit Kelce, and, thanks largely to new acquisition Kevin Byard, Kelce caught seven passes for just 44 yards and a touchdown.
Mahomes threw 11 times to Watson with five completions. No completion for the evening was longer than 17 yards.
The Chiefs were up 17-14 when Kelce lost a fumble on Philadelphia’s 10 yard line, and they were still up 17-14 when Watson couldn’t gather in a third down pass. The Eagles finally got tired of leaving such deeds unpunished, so Hurts hit Smith deep and then scored on the Brotherly Shove formation that, it is hoped, will hit the dustbin of history during the off-season. Still, every other team has the option to scrum their way to first downs and touchdowns and only the Eagles have made it an art.
The Chiefs average 6.9 per attempt, which is 17th in the league. San Francisco leads that category with 9.6. Kansas City was at 8.1 in 2022. Watson is fourth individually in that stat (17.3).
It’s true that the Chiefs won last year’s Super Bowl without Tyreek Hill or a comparable deep threat, but they also had Juju Smith-Schuster, who was reliable enough to catch 78 passes. Reid is never going to fully commit to the run and didn’t on Monday, even though the Eagles had shown little interest in tackling Isiah Pacheco, the NFL player who most belongs on one of those uncontrollable electric-football fields that used to be a favorite Christmas present.
This loss cost Kansas City its spot atop the AFC seedings, at least temporarily. As resourceful as they’ve been, it would be folly to think they can’t regain it. But this game was more about the Eagles. Sure, third-year coach Nick Sirianni has the insufferable look of a guy who was born on the one-yard-line and thinks he just ran 99 yards. He’s not hard to read. But this night was more about reception than deception, as are most NFL nights.
More confetti from an NFL weekend:
Baltimore 34, Cincinnati 20
– Joe Burrow’s final pass Thursday night was a 4-yard touchdown to Joe Mixon. It was his last of the season. Burrow gave way to Jake Browning after the TD gave Cincinnati a 10-7 lead with 5:33 left in the second quarter. The Bengals didn’t get into the end zone again until Browning threw a 2-yard TD to Ja’Marr Chase with 1:12 left and the Ravens up 34-13. Burrow’s sprained wrist kept him from gripping the football.
– Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews might also be out for the year with an ankle injury sustained on the seventh play of the game. The butcher’s bill in the AFC North continues to mount, with Cleveland QB DeShaun Watson out for the season with a bad shoulder.
– Otherwise, Gus Edwards ran for two touchdowns and now has 11 scores, and Odell Beckham Jr. had his first 100-yard receiving game since he was a Ram. Lamar Jackson was 16 for 21 with no interceptions, and he has led the Ravens to 16 touchdowns in their last 22 red zone trips. Cincinnati had its second-best running game of the season, but it again missed having Tee Higgins on the outside, or at least Chase did. He was targeted seven times and caught only two passes for 12 yards.
Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 10
– They haven’t had Nick Chubb since Week 2 and they won’t have him or Watson the rest of the way. The Browns have found a way to imagine life without them. Just don’t ask them to function without Myles Garrett, who has 13 sacks in 11 games and has a willing partner in Okro Okoronwko, who had four tackles for loss against the Steelers. Cleveland’s defense gave up a 74-yard TD run by Jaylin Warren and only 204 yards otherwise, and ran 16 more plays than did Pittsburgh.
-= Fifth-round pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson, from UCLA, gave Cleveland all the quarterbacking it needed on the final drive. Tied 10-10 with 1:18 to go, DTR completed four consecutive passes, including the 11-yarder to favorite target David Njoku that guided the Browns into Dustin Hopkins’ field goal range.
– Kenny Pickett went 15 for 28 for only 106 passing yards. He had a first down on the Cleveland 15 early in the fourth quarter, down 10-7. That’s when Grant Delpit threw Warren for a 2-yard loss, and then Garrett dumped Pickett ten yards upfield. That created a third-and-22, which removed thoughts of a touchdown, and the Steelers (6-4) didn’t get a first down thereafter.
Miami 20, Las Vegas 13
– The Raiders’ revitalized defense held the Dolphins out of the end zone for the last 32:28 of this one and stopped Miami on eight of 11 third downs. But Miami has a defense, too. Jalen Ramsey, who missed the first seven games, had two interceptions, including the game-saver on the final play, as Aidan O’Connell attempted to find rookie Tre Tucker in the end zone.
– Miami’s happiness over the return of De’Von Achane dissipated when Achane left with another knee injury, after one carry. Raheem Mostert stlll had 22 carries for 86 yards, and Tua Tagovailoa hit 10 of the 11 passes he aimed at Tyreek Hill for 146 yards and a touchdown.
=-- Las Vegas didn’t score in the second half and O’Connell, the rookie from Purdue, was picked three times and went 24 for 41. But Hunter Renfrow, who had been almost invisible when Josh McDaniels was coaching, took five passes from O’Connell. Acting coach Antonio Pierce is 2-1. There’s a noticeable difference in the way Vegas is playing.
Green Bay 23, L.A. Chargers 20
– Jayden Reed, a second-round pick from Michigan State, continues to energize the Packers (4-6). He had a 32-yard TD run and also got 46 yards rushing. Jordan Love had the Packers’ first 300-yard passing game since Aaron Rodgers was there, and found Romeo Doubs for the 24-yard score with 2:51 left.
– Again, the Chargers’ knack for the soul-sucking loss is unparalleled in the NFL. This year they are 0-4 in games decided by three or fewer points. They led 20-16, but Asante Samuel was whistled for pass interference on a third-down incompletion, and Love converted that into the TD to Dobbs. With no time outs, Justin Herbert got it back with 1:27 left and threw to Quintin Johnston on a deep sideline route that would have given L.A. a shot at a tying field goal. Johnston dropped it, and the next play was a fourth-down pass that Kenny Clark batted away.
– Herbert was the Chargers’ leading rusher, with eight tries for 73 yards, and hit 21 of 36 passes with no picks. Going 1-for-4 in the red zone was a factor in reducing the Chargers, the NFL’s leading card collection, to 4-6.
Denver 21, Minnesota 20
– Russell Wilson probably never thought he’d be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, but that might be where he’s headed. His Broncos didn’t score a touchdown until 1:09 remained. Wilson threw a high 15-yarder to Courtland Sutton, who leaped to catch it in front of Vikings’ rookie Mekhi Blackmon. Denver is now 5-5 with a four-game win streak, longest in the league.
– Wilson is completing 69 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. Last year, his first with Denver, he was a 60.9 percent passer with 16 TDs and 11 picks. The Vikings stopped the run Sunday night, so Wilson went 27 for 35 for 259 yards.
– However, the Vikings (6-5) rolled for 175 rushing yards and had the ball for nearly 35 minutes. Their three turnovers led to three Denver field goals, and the Broncos (5-5) gave Minnesota’s wideouts only four catches for 51 yards,
Detroit 31, Chicago 26
– Lions fans are accustomed to the bad football their team played for three quarters Sunday. But now the Lions win anyway. With 4:15 left Chicago had capped an eight minute, 45 drive with a field goal and a 26-14 lead. Detroit replied with Jared Goff’s 32-yard TD pass to Jameson Williams. The Bears ran twice and Justin Fields threw an interception, ran only :26 off the clock and punted, and watched the Lions respond. Goff drove them 73 yards and David Montgomery plunged for the go-ahead touchdown.
– Until then, it was a tour de force for Fields, who had missed four games. He ran for 104 yards and hit 16 of 23 passes and a touchdown which went 39 yards to D.J. Moore after Josh Reynolds fumbled on a kickoff return. The Bears (3-8) also intercepted Goff three times and hit him eight times.
– The Lions (9-2) basically won because they were 3-for-3 in the red zone, and because they drafted Williams in the first round two years ago even though he had torn his ACL in the national championship game for Alabama. He’s a scary deep threat and joins Amon-Ra St. Brown, rookie tight end Sam LaPorta and rookie running back Jahmir Gibbs in an offense that, so far, has overcome its own defense.
San Francisco 27, Tampa Bay 14
– The Bucs weren’t in bad shape at halftime, trailing only 13-7 on the road. Then they downed a punt on San Francisco’s two-yard-line. The 49ers dashed Tampa Bay’s illusions quickly. After Brock Purdy passed 21 yards to George Kittle, he found Brandon Aiyuk down the sideline, and the 76-yard touchdown was too much to overcome. The 49ers went to 7-3 and now lead Seattle by a game in the NFC West, leading to Thursday night’s showdown.
– You can’t do better than Purdy’s 158.3 QB rating. He had four incompletions and three touchdowns, and threw for 333 yards. Aiyuk caught five for 156 and is averaging 19.3 yards per catch, boosting his career average to 14.4.
– The 49ers lost safety Talanoa Hufanga for the season with a torn ACL. The Bucs have lost five of six and are 4-6, although you’re never out of the running in the NFC South. Baker Mayfield could only connect with Mike Evans five times in 12 attempts Sunday, for 43 yards.
Houston 21, Arizona 16
– The Cardinals were turned back three times on fourth down in the fourth quarter in Houston territory, which ruined their strong defensive effort. They intercepted C.J. Stroud three times, hit him five times and had four sacks.
– Tape gets around in the NFL. Stroud was only picked twice before Sunday’s game. But he did hit fellow rookie Tank Dell eight times in 10 targets for 1349 yards, and Devin Singletary continued to boost the run game with 112 yards in 22 cracks, plus a touchdown, for Houston (6–4).
– Kyler Murray’s second game of the season was a mixed bag for Arizona (2-9), with a 48-yard TD pass to Rondale Moore but only 166 passing yards otherwise. His final fourth-down try was batted away by Steve Nelson.
LA. Rams 17, Seattle 16
– The Seahawks are 6-4 overall but 0-2 to the Rams, which probably isn’t a good way to go into Thursday’s game with San Francisco. They were leading 16-7 when Geno Smith was knocked out of the game by Aaron Donald. Drew Lock couldn’t move Seattle after that, and when Smith returned for the final drive, the Rams were leading. Josh Myers missed a 55-yard try at the buzzer.
– But Seattle left too many points on the field when Smith was in. A holding penalty by Colby Parkinson limited the Seahawks to a field goal, and so did Smith’s intentional grounding on the Rams’ 11. After Derion Kendrick intercepted Lock with 6:43 left, the Rams steamed to the Seattle four for Lucas Havrisik’s winning field goal. An illegal-use-of-hands penalty by Tariq Woolen bailed out the Rams when Matthew Stafford missed a third down pass to Puca Nacua.
– Matt Stafford was deprived of a main target when Cooper Kupp sprained his ankle. He also sustained a big hit from Mario Williams and shook it off to lead a touchdown drive, and also benefited from Royce Freeman’s 73-yard rushing day. The Rams (5-5) won despite missing on seven of nine third downs.
Dallas 33, Carolina 10
– Micah Parsons vs. Carolina’s pass protection wasn’t a match that any athletic commission would sanction. He had 2 ½ sacks, DaRon Bland tied an NFL record with his fourth interception TD of the season, and the Cowboys pushed their record to 8-3.
– Dallas sacked Bryce Young seven times, and Bland’s pick-six was the third that Young has suffered in his past three games. Young wound up with 77 passing yards. Eleven of his 26 throws were aimed at receiver Adam Thielen.
– The Carolina defense bent until it broke, with no takeaways or sacks. Dallas raised its lead to 17-3 late in the second quarter because the Panthers (1-9) kicked off out of bounds and committed two unsportsmanlike penalties on the drive.
Buffalo 32, N.Y. Jets 6
– The thread on which Zach Wilson was hanging finally broke on Sunday. The former second-overall draft pick lost his quarterbacking job for the second consecutive year, this time to 29-year-old Tim Boyle, who is on his fourth NFL team. Wilson was sacked five times, managed 15 pass attempts, but did lead an 84-yard touchdown drive., the Jets’ first in three games. With a banged-up offensive line Wilson isn’t the whole problem, but he hasn’t become the solution either.
– Buffalo replaced offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey with Joe Brady. It wasn’t a total transformation, but Josh Allen did hit Khalil Shakur with an 81-yard TD play, and connected with Tra Johnson on fourth-and-one for a 26-yard score. The Bills were 1-for-4 in the red zone but at least ran the ball 38 times.
– It is hoped the Bills enjoyed this one because now they go to Philadelphia and, after a bye week, travel to Kansas City before a home date with the Cowboys.
Jacksonville 34, Tennessee 14
– Winning has rarely been this easy for the Jaguars (7-3),, who led 27-0 and dealt the Titans (3-7) their ninth consecutive road loss. Calvin Ridley came to the fore with two TD catches, and Trevor Lawrence became the first quarterback in Duval history to run for two scores and pass for two in the same game.
– The early lead removed Tennessee’s Derrick Henry from the game (10 carries, 38 yards) and rookie Will Levis simply didn’t have the ball enough, with 38 snaps, to make an impact. He was 13 for 17 with no picks, which was good for his QB rating (143.8) but wasn’t significant otherwise.
– The Jaguars now go to Houston to face their most serious AFC South challenge. The Texans waxed Jacksonville, 37-17, in Week 3.
N.Y. Giants 31, Washington 19
– It wasn’t hard to get a handle on this game, although the Commanders could have used one. Sam Howell threw three interceptions and his mates lost three fumbles. The Giants didn’t do much with the ball but at least held onto it. Tommy DeVito, the rookie, didn’t surrender a turnover even though he was sacked nine times, and tossed three TD passes and hit 18 of 26.
– The Commanders fell to 4-7, and coach Ron Rivera’s lease appears short-term. They lost even though they ran 77 plays to New York’s 54, had 28 first downs, and had the ball for more than 19 minutes in the second half. Until the final irrelevant play, Washington turned over the ball four times in its final six possessions. David Mayo had three of the Commanders’ 12 tackles for loss.
– Isaiah Simmons’ interception return touchdown was the icing for the Giants (3-8), who got two forced fumbles and 14 overall tackles from Bobby Okereke.