I watch all these games a few times anyway, so I might as well put the time to use here, right?
I’d like to make this a weekly thing, where we highlight 10 plays that stuck out, either for their awesomeness or importance to the game or some other reason that may strike the mood.
Ten is a number pulled from the air, but at least on this day, from the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over the Texans, required some editing. We could’ve done 20. But you have work to do.
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Anyway, let’s do it, in chronological order.
▪ 1. Travis Kelce is going to make himself a star this year. This is pretty spectacular, in imagination and execution. The Chiefs have three tight ends on the right side of the line, with Kelce on the outside, and despite being 6-feet-5 and 260 pounds, uses precision and quickness to beat a cornerback clean. But I also want you to notice Jah Reid here, standing straight up against J.J. Watt, one-on-one.
▪ 2. This one probably didn’t make the highlight shows, but I like it on at least two levels. First, it’s another good play call by Andy Reid, with a quick swing pass over J.J. Watt’s head. Jah Reid and his teammates deserve a lot of credit for how they played up front, but they definitely needed help from the coaches. Here, Reid neutralizes Watt’s rush by turning him around. But also, and this is more impressive, watch Mitch Morse get down the field and lead Jamaal Charles in converting a third-and-13. Morse played a hell of a game.
▪ 3. Speaking of Morse, watch him here peel back and help on Watt. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a center do this, let alone a center in his first start. After the snap, Morse sees that there are no pass rushers coming his way, so he immediately gets back to help block Watt. Also, of course, Kelce’s wind-up-and-punch celebration deserves immediate induction to the Hall of Fame.
▪ 4. This has nothing to do with strategy. I’m only including this because the hit on Travis Kelce made MY stomach hurt watching live, and every time I see the replay it’s a reminder that there are about five dozen hits in every NFL game that would break my entire body. I also enjoyed Kelce’s telling of the story, as related in Vahe’s column: “I’m not going to lie: once I got hit, it took me a good four seconds to realize that I couldn’t breathe … It was, like, ‘Is there a rib in my lung right there?’”
▪ 5. Derrick Johnson made a triumphant return, and I could’ve picked out a few different plays, but I liked this one for the subtlety. It wasn’t a play that got Chiefs fans or the broadcasters worked up — though he had a few of those, too — but watch the smarts and efficiency here. Johnson reads the play perfectly, and side steps the the left guard like he’s a traffic cone before darting in and making the tackle. The Chiefs missed him so much last year.
▪ 6. The Chiefs’ pass rush was relentless, and this is probably the best one-play embodiment of that spirit. Justin Houston is just way too good at times. It’s worth mentioning that this sack came only seconds after Jaye Howard, who played terrifically, had a sack.
▪ 7. The Marcus Peters play that got everyone’s attention was his first, of course, the interception on the play where Justin Houston pushed the right tackle into Brian Hoyer’s lap. That was nice, but I wanted to show this one, too, because I think it encapsulates some of Peters’ strengths: instincts to read the play, courage to be aggressive in going for the knock down, and ball skills to slap the ball away.
▪ 8. This one is included out of pure hatred for NFL rules that don’t seem to understand that if everyone watching a game sees the same replay 10 times and believes it’s a catch, you should not have some stupid rule that says it’s not a catch. Two other points: this was really well done by the coaching staff to get Maclin isolated, and by Smith to recognize it and go that way. Smith’s throw, and this is part of the not-so-great debate, was just a tick underthrown. Maclin had to lean back to get it, which made the catch more difficult, but it was still a freaking catch, so whatever.
▪ 9. Not a huge deal, but doesn’t this look like the kind of play where Tamba Hali usually gets the sack? Noticed a few times that it appeared Hali had trouble getting off blocks. This was the most obvious, as it turned into a big gain for the Texans.
▪ 10. It’s just not that often you see an NFL right guard pushed back into the quarterback, like he’s a shopping cart or something.