It’s halftime at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Chiefs lead the Oakland Raiders 21-10 in their Thursday night showdown. Here are some quick thoughts.
1. The Chiefs haven’t done much “gimmicky” stuff this half; they have not used as many presnaps shifts and motions as they did against Oakland in October, when Raiders coach used the term gimmicky to describe their play. Instead, they’ve jumped out to this lead with stingy defense and good offensive play-calls and execution.
2. Quarterback Alex Smith has been great. He’s stepping up into the pocket and delivering the ball downfield. It’s what all his critics have wanted to see him do. He has a QB rating of 132.3 so far; 11 for 16 for 202 yards, a TD and no interceptions or sacks. Not to mention a couple of on-the-money downfield throws.
3. Another player who earns a first-half game ball is Tyreek Hill. Not only has Hill caught a touchdown pass, he also returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. Before the play, the capacity crowd at Arrowhead Stadium was chanting his name. That’s something I’ve never heard happen with him before.
4. If Derrick Johnson’s injury is serious, that will obviously be a significant blow to the defense. His impact as a ballplayer and voice for the defense would be incredibly difficult to replace. Early word from the Chiefs is that it’s another Achilles injury. He suffered a torn Achilles against Tennessee in 2014 and it cost him the season. No word yet on exact nature or severity of this injury, but he couldn’t put any weight on it when he was coming off the field.
5. The last time the Chiefs lost Johnson mid-game due to a significant injury, they seemed deflated and ended up losing that game. The Chiefs will need to show more mental toughness to win this game tonight.