Sam Mellinger

Chiefs 34, Lions 30: Insta-reaction from Kansas City’s late win in Detroit!

A million things the Chiefs did wrong, so many mistakes the internet doesn’t have room. Fumbles. Penalties. Bad play calls, poor throws, blown coverages ... and did we mention fumbles?

So.

Many.

Mistakes.

Also this: the Chiefs beat a previously unbeaten team on the road, when Patrick Mahomes went Superman for his first game-winning, come-from-behind two-minute drive.

This is a new one, and will take some time to fully process, but the initial feeling is that this is a significant moment in the Chiefs’ most serious Super Bowl push in years.

The negative: maybe the Lions found something, and showed that even a poor running game can get going against the Chiefs, and that their heavy zone coverage scheme can be had, and that you can beat up their receivers a bit and take advantage of the playmakers’ tendencies to leave the ball exposed.

The Lions played without their two best cornerbacks and, still, coach Matt Patricia (the former Patriots defensive coordinator) came up with a scheme that did not exactly stop the Chiefs but held up as well as any we’ve seen against Mahomes.

The Lions are a good team, but not a great one, and perhaps there are bread crumbs in the film that a coach with, say, the Patriots might use as a guide.

The positive: the Chiefs fumbled more often than they scored an offensive touchdown and still had a chance at the end. They played a good team without their best receiver, starting left tackle, and starting running back. This season has always been about a slow build to the playoffs, so if there are mistakes to clean up this can be a positive step.

That they are able to clean it up in a win, without falling behind the Patriots in determining where the AFC Championship game is played, is just an added benefit.

This was a wild game, with leads swinging back and forth. Both teams can produce a list a dozen items deep with examples of things they could’ve done better to push the outcome.

The Chiefs showed resiliency, if nothing else, which is something they haven’t had to do much.

A year ago, they lost these close games. The one against the Rams. Chargers at home. Both Patriots games.

The Lions certainly aren’t as good as last year’s Rams or Patriots, and probably not as good as the Chargers.

But it’s still a test, and as a group they passed. They did with the defense making the single most influential play, when Bashaud Breeland — who has played terrifically by the way — picked up a loose ball and in one of those nobody-is-sure-what’s-happening-and-the-refs-don’t-even-signal-touchdown-because-they-don’t-know-either moments.

The play was ruled a touchdown, perhaps a 14-point swing, and the Chiefs almost certainly could not have won without that play.

There is so much to digest here, and I could sit here and type for another hour, but I need to get down to the locker room.

Back soon with a game column.

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Sam Mellinger is a sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 2000. He has won numerous national and regional awards for coverage of the Chiefs, Royals, colleges, and other sports both national and local.
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