Report card: Chiefs stayed a step ahead of the Browns, earn a few ‘A’ grades

The Chiefs improved to 8-1 and 4-1 on the road with a 37-21 win over the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio. With the win, the Chiefs continue to boast the best record in the AFC.

The recap

Player of the game: Kareem Hunt finished with 91 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. He also caught a screen pass and turned it into a 50-yard touchdown. He accounted for three of the Chiefs’ five touchdowns.

Reason to hope: The Chiefs went on the road and controlled a game against an opponent you’d expect them to handle. They led wire-to-wire and secured the win by a 16-point margin.

Reason to mope: Wide receiver Sammy Watkins came out of the game with a foot injury, though he played some later, in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Chiefs gave up some large chunks of yards to running backs out of the backfield — a recurring trend this season.

Looking ahead: The Chiefs host the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday. The 2-6 Cardinals were off this weekend after losing to the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 28.

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Report card

Rushing offense: A-. Kareem Hunt, who ran for 54 yards on his first nine carries, and the offensive line were able to get big chunks of yardage seemingly at will early in the game. They finished the day having gained an average of 5.8 yards per rush and a total of 139 yards on the ground. Hunt ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes, Spencer Ware, Tyreek Hill and Hunt each had runs of 11 yards or more.

Passing offense: A. Patrick Mahomes tied Trent Green for the franchise record for the most 300-yard passing games in a season (eight). He also tied the NFL record for the most consecutive 300-yard passing games in one season. Seven receivers had at least one catch, while eight were targeted. Travis Kelce’s seven-catch, 99-yard performance led the way; Tyreek Hill, Watkins, Ware and Hunt each finished with between 50 and 69 yards receiving.

Rushing defense: C. The Browns rushed for 102 yards, but they did not have many big runs. Nick Chubb and the ground attack did not really hurt the Chiefs as much as the Browns’ passing game did. The Browns averaged 4.1 yards per carry.

Passing defense: B-. Duke Johnson, as have several running backs this season, gave the Chiefs fits out of the backfield. His touchdown before halftime kept the Browns within striking distance. Cleveland’s two longest receptions and their lone touchdown pass in the first half came courtesy of a running back and a tight end. None of the Browns’ wide receivers logged more than 51 yards receiving. The Chiefs got to Mayfield for two sacks and intercepted one pass and one two-point conversion attempt.

Special teams: A-. Damien Williams blocked the franchise’s first punt since Jan. 3, 2016. It gave the Chiefs great field position and set up a Kareem Hunt third-quarter touchdown run. Dustin Colquitt had both of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line, and the only return went for 1 yard. The lone kickoff return by the Browns netted just 16 yards, while Tremon Smith averaged 26.5 yards per kickoff return. But Harrison Butker’s missed extra point factors into this grade.

Coaching: B. The Chiefs were able run and pass effectively. They used the Browns’ aggression on defense to their favor with screen passes. They spread the ball around, racked up 499 yards of total offense and converted six of 10 third-down attempts. Defensively, they were vulnerable to the running backs in the passing game but made the Browns’ rookie quarterback work to move the ball down the field. They racked up 86 yards in penalties (11).

Lynn Worthy

Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Chiefs and NFL for The Star.

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