It’s halftime at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Kansas City Chiefs lead the Tennessee Titans 17-7 in their Sunday afternoon showdown. Here are some quick thoughts.
1. Tyreek Hill’s 68-yard touchdown run was well-designed and well-executed. Hill wasn’t even touched as he galloped into the end zone. His rare combination of burst, strength and top-end speed transitions to running back well, and it explains why Chiefs coach Andy Reid has been so comfortable going with only two active running backs – Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West – on gameday. There’s no way to know if he has any aptitude as a blocker, so it’s simply best to say he could play there in a pinch. But it will be interesting to see how much Hill will get direct handoffs going forward.
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2. Receiver Jeremy Maclin had a nice half. He displayed good hands, concentration and sideline awareness on a pair of sideline catches. Maclin has four receptions for 61 yards, and this is a positive development. A renewed connection with quarterback Alex Smith will pay dividends in January.
3. Smith, by the way, looked good on his 10-yard touchdown scramble. If he can find a way to use his legs again, there’s a chance he can be good enough in the playoffs to help the Chiefs reach their ultimate goal – the Super Bowl.
4. The Chiefs’ almost-mystical ability to create turnovers has come in handy today. Safety Eric Berry’s strip of Rishard Matthews negated a positive Titans drive that would have likely ended in points and also resulted in a touchdown, and they also recovered a fumble by quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Chiefs’ bend-but-don’t-break defense has been in full effect today, especially since the run defense has struggled without star inside linebacker Derrick Johnson. The Titans, who boast the league’s third-best rushing offense, have rushed 16 times for 84 yards – a robust average of 5.2 yards per carry.
5. Andy Reid made the right decision to go for it there on third-and-goal and fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line right before halftime. You can nitpick the calls – a pair of slow-developing running plays – but ultimately, the Chiefs’ inability to get a yard there (and thus, the ensuing turnover on downs) was on the offensive line. While the Chiefs have had some nice moments with their running game this season (i.e. the final drive last week vs. Oakland), they’ve also been stuffed in short yardage a few times, too. Perhaps that’s why Reid tends to scheme teams up near the goal line instead of relying on power football.