The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense was arguably more exciting than the offense on Sunday afternoon, as the home team turned in a 26-10 win over the dilapidated Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
Regardless of who is under center, holding any NFL team to under 200 net yards and 10 points is one achievement. Getting to 9-2 without too much suspense is another. The Chiefs also won their fifth straight game, which is something that’s happened in every season head coach Andy Reid has been in Kansas City. He also became the winningest coach in Arrowhead history.
The Week 13 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals should be more interesting. For now, though, let’s take a look at who stood out on Sunday.
Note: 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 grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Running back Isiah Pacheco: The rookie only averaged 3.1 yards per attempt on this day, but he was central to the offense. Carrying the ball 22 times — showing his burst and signature enthusiasm along the way — Pacheco was great. He also showed something we haven’t seen yet: picking up 17 yards through the air. He is a perfect fit to bring balance to the Chiefs’ offense — but if he can also be a threat in the passing game, it might be years before he lets go of his starting job.
Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed: The Chiefs’ do-it-all defender really did it all on Sunday. Sneed got pressure on blitzes, made huge tackles in the running game — including one for a loss — broke up two passes and came down with an interception to help salt the game away. He briefly left the game with an injury — so it was great to see him not only return, but flourish.
Linebacker Nick Bolton: Another week, another fourth-quarter interception for Bolton. That goes along with his customary double-digit tackle figure (11). Bolton was great against the Rams, also notching a tackle for loss and a pass defended.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones: Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense finally has a double-digit sack artist. Jones continued his dominance with his 10th sack on the year. As usual, he was in the backfield a lot — and found other opportunities to disrupt Bryce Perkins.
Defensive end George Karlaftis: The rookie once again turned in a solid all-around performance, finally getting on the board with a full quarterback sack. We thought he was due! Perhaps this starts a productive stretch run for Karlaftis.
Running back Ronald Jones: The first regular season touch for Jones was, ironically, a 22-yard reception. While not known as a great receiver, he still announced his presence by picking up a nice gain. His rushing performance was uneven, gaining just 12 yards on four carries — but for Jones, just getting in the game was a win.
Wide receiver Skyy Moore: With another six targets, Moore was able to haul in five catches — but the box score doesn’t do him justice. The 36 yards he gained don’t tell the full story: Moore converted key third downs with some really solid catches. The Chiefs had several interesting play designs featuring the rookie on a variety of different looks — including a failed trick playing in the red zone where he threw back to Mahomes. He’ll kick himself for the one he didn’t bring in — because even though it was low and away, he had a chance at the ball. Moore is continuing to gain quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ trust — and looks like he’ll continue to be a part of the offense.
Punt returner Skyy Moore: It’s gone beyond the typical rookie struggles — and beyond the point where a coach should want to give a guy another shot to build his confidence. After Moore’s third muffed punt of the season, the shots should be over for now. Justin Watson stepped in and fielded the rest of the punts. There was even a funny moment where he celebrated a fair catch, getting applause from the crowd. It’s clear that Kansas City fans are over Moore as a punt returner — but is special teams coordinator Dave Toub?
Dave Toub: The comedy of errors on the third phase of the team have gone on long enough that Toub deserves his own entry. He clearly shouldn’t be putting Moore out there to field punts. But he also needs to do a better job of preparing his guys for fakes. The Rams easily converted a fake punt on a fourth-and-5 on their own 41-yard line that extended a ten-play drive.