In the aftermath of the Chiefs’ 41-14 Monday night win over the New England Patriots, there was a palpable sense of satisfaction in the locker room. Laughs came easy, and smiles did, too.
No wonder. In a spotlight game on national television, the Chiefs had not only shown up, they had blown New England out in a dominating fashion in all three phases of the game. But perhaps nothing illustrated the thoroughness of the win like the way the Chiefs’ offense, led by coach Andy Reid, fared against the Patriots’ defense, led by coach Bill Belichick.
In the battle of master playcallers, Reid — who was previously 0-4 in his career against Belichick — prevailed. Thoroughly.
The Chiefs not only gained 443 yards, but they also did so with tremendous balance, with 236 passing yards and 207 rushing yards. What’s more, the Chiefs scored on two of their first three possessions, needing only 14 total plays to march 159 total yards, an average of an astonishing 11.3 yards per play on their scoring drives.
“You know, Andy man, he’s a mastermind,” Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe said. “The way he puts plays together, the way he calls them in the heat of the moment ... I can’t even put it into words how he gets everybody involved so early, so fast.”
Bowe would know. He caught five passes for 81 yards, second on the team in both categories to tight end Travis Kelce, who caught eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Both players received plenty of touches on the first three drives, along with running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, as the Chiefs embodied the share-it spirit of the West Coast offense early on.
“We tried to spread around as much as we could,” Reid said. “We got Donnie (Avery) a couple too. Against that defense, it’s important that you try to get as many different receivers into the mix, and we were able able to do that. We had some tight formations, some spread formations that we used.”
It worked, too. And quarterback Alex Smith, who completed 20 of 26 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns, was the conductor of a passing game that picked the Patriots apart with their balance all night long.
“If you’ve got a strength or you’ve got something to help us win, coach is gonna find a way to exploit that,” Smith said.
Smith and Bowe, however, weren’t the only players to praise Reid’s playcalling. When asked if he thought the Chiefs’ game plan was stellar, tight end Anthony Fasano chuckled.
“I think if you go in the other locker room, I think he would say that, as well,” Fasano said. “Everything was working for us tonight. Inside runs were getting 4 yards. And when that happens, good things happen.”
Indeed. The much-maligned offensive line had it going Monday night, as it plowed the way for Charles to rush for 92 yards on 18 carries and Davis to rush for 107 yards on 16 carries.
“We got into a rhythm early, which helps,” Smith said. “We were able to move the chains early … and it started with the guys up front, certainly setting the tone. They kind of got called out and challenged a little bit this week, and they certainly stepped up to it.”
Chiefs center Rodney Hudson said the offensive line, which allowed two sacks but generally performed better than it had in the Chiefs’ first three games of the season, can get in a groove when the Chiefs choose to run the ball as much as they did Monday (38 rushes to only 26 passes).
“No doubt, no doubt,” Hudson said. “Any offensive lineman will tell you that. Establishing the run gets the defense on their heels a bit. Because play action opens, and other things open up as well.”
“Anytime you run the ball like that, you dictate what they’re doing,” Smith said. “You saw so many times, we had 1-on-1 outside, and it was because we were running the ball so well. They were forced to bring an extra hat down into the box.”
You can thank the Chiefs’ 26-10 season-opening loss to the Titans for the increased emphasis on the running game. In that game, the Chiefs were pass-happy, and Smith threw three interceptions.
“I think we just felt when we look back at the film that we got away from the run,” Smith said. “We got unbalanced, really one-dimensional, and it’s tough in this league to be that way. I think one of our strengths are those guys up front. And they are physical, and we’ve got the running back depth to really wear on teams.”
Now the Chiefs, at 2-2, hope to keep it going next week against the San Francisco 49ers. And based on the performance of their running backs, quarterback, offensive line and playcaller, they have no reason to tweak their formula for success.
“We’re starting to find our identity now,” Charles said. “Our identity is to keep grinding out yards. Nobody believed in us, nobody thought we could beat these teams. But I’ll tell you what, we have coach, and we have Alex, and those guys know how to win.”