The Chiefs expected a fight when they visited New Orleans on Sunday, and while head coach Andy Reid concedes not everything was pretty, his team showed resiliency and mental toughness in a 32-29 victory over the Saints.
“Things are going to happen and you have to go,” Reid said after the win. “I think the guys did a heck of a job with it. They didn’t let it bog them down mentally. If they got beat, then they got beat. They got back on the horse, kept going and tried it again. I appreciated the fighting part.”
The Chiefs offense made its share of mistakes – Reid pointed toward dropped passes and missed receivers downfield – but it was the team’s grittiness behind a bruise and juggled offensive line that pleased Reid.
“We scored points against a good defensive front,” Reid said. “You are talking about one of the best defensive fronts, if not the best statistically. I thought we ran the ball efficiently especially in the second half. We threw the ball well with the exception of a couple of blitzes that they had. They got us at the end, but we were clean for the most part.”
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered the game’s most serious injury, and it will likely be until at least Monday before the Chiefs know the full extent of any damage.
“Right now the X-rays are negative but we’ll just evaluate him as we go,” Reid said after the game.
The injury occurred with under 6 minutes left in the game, with the rookie take a carry behind the right side of the line for a 4-yard gain to the New Orleans’ 5-yard line. Edwards-Helaire appeared to get his left leg pinned behind him as he was twisted to the ground, with his right leg split to the outside. He was unable to put pressure on his left league as he was helped off the field.
Backfield mate Le’Veon Bell called it an “ugly way to get tackled,” and initially feared an ankle injury. He said Edwards-Healaire told him his ankle felt fine, and the veteran offered him words of encouragement.
“I just kind of told him, ‘Good game, I’m glad you got the opportunity to play back at home,’” Bell said. “He has happy, he’s still excited, in (good) spirits.”
The biggest concern focuses on his groin and hip. Edwards-Helaire was expected to undergo an MRI and other evaluations Sunday night and Monday morning.
Linebacker Emmanuel Smith, elevated from the practice squad for the game, tweaked his hamstring, Reid said. Bell appeared shaken up after converting a run for a first down to put the game on ice in the fourth quarter but felt fine meeting with reporters after the game.
Special Teams Fiasco
Reid said he felt his club’s special teams did some good things Sunday – with one notable exception.
He singled out wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, who fielded a punt off a bounce on his own 13-yard line with 13 seconds remaining in the first half. He inexplicably then ran laterally before eventually retreating to near his own 5-yard line, where Saints linebacker Craig Robertson forced the ball out of his hand.
The Chiefs avoided complete disaster when Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone failed to corral the ball and the end zone, resulting in a safety. That left the Chiefs up 14-9 at halftime.
“He had some good snaps on the offensive side,” Reid said of Robinson. “Probably shouldn’t have handled that one there with 10 seconds left.”
Wylie Duels Cam Jordan
The battle raged in the trenches in Sunday’s contest, and one of the more fiery moments occurred early in the fourth quarter when
officials ejected New Orleans defensive end Cam Jordan for throwing a punch at Chiefs right tackle Andrew Wylie.
The exchange occurred at the end of a play where Mahomes misconnection with Demarcus Robinson. Instead of facing third-and-9 at the Saints 26-yard line, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave the Chiefs a fresh set of downs on the 13. On the next play, Mahomes ran an option right and pitched the ball to Bell for a 13-yard touchdown run putting the Chiefs ahead 29-15.
Wylie said Jordan “was bringing it all game” but didn’t believe anything in particular led to the extracurricular activity at the end of the play.
“I’d like to think I was matching his energy,” Wylie said. “I had him in tight there and I wasn’t letting go. They got a little hot, a little heated, but it’s not like we were really talking or anything. I think he just got caught a little bit up in the moment.”
By the Numbers
- Tight end Travis Kelce led the Chiefs with eight catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. He ranks No. 2 in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,318 in his quest to become the first tight end to lead the league in receiving. Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins leads Kelce by 6 yards with 1,324. Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs is third with 1,314.
- Kelce sits just 63 yards shy of the record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end with just two games remaining. George Kittle holds the mark 1,377 yards. He is also two catches shy of becoming the first tight end with 100 receptions in two separate seasons. Kelce had a career-high 103 receptions in 2018. Zach Ertz holds the NFL record with 116 catches in a season.
- The Chiefs extended their franchise-record 11-game winning streak on the road Sunday, completing the second undefeated road schedule in team history. The 1966 Chiefs went 7-0 on the road in a 14-game season. That team finished the regular season 11-2-1 before falling to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.
- Tyreek Hill tied the Chiefs’ franchise record with his 15th touchdown of the season. Dwayne Bowe hauled in 15 touchdown passes in 2010. Hill also became the first player in NFL history with at least 15 touchdown receptions and at least two rushing touchdowns in a single season.
- Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed intercepted his third pass of the season, tying him with Rams safety Jordan Fuller for the NFL lead in receptions among rookies this season.
The Chiefs (13-1) return home for their final two games of the season, with the Atlanta Falcons (4-10) coming to town. The Falcons blew a 17-0 lead against Tampa Bay Sunday, falling 21-27.
The game has a low impact for the Chiefs, who have will clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs with a win or tie in either of their final two games or one loss or tie by both Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The Chiefs could lose to Atlanta and still own tiebreakers over both the Steelers and Bills.
The game is set for a noon kickoff on Sunday, Dec. 27, with broadcast on FOX (WDAF-4 in Kansas City).
Patchwork Offensive Line Holds Up for Chiefs Against New Orleans