3 Takeaways from Chiefs' Week 1 Win
It didn't take long for the Kansas City Chiefs to face adversity during the 2021 season. And it didn't take much longer for them to overcome it, either.
After trailing for most of the day Sunday—which included a nine-point deficit with 10 minutes and 24 seconds to go in the fourth quarter—the Chiefs rallied for a 33-29 win over the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City never led until Patrick Mahomes threw a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce with 7:04 remaining.
The Chiefs held on to take down the Browns in an AFC divisional-round rematch from last season. And just like that time, Kansas City found a way to pull out a close victory at home.
Once again, the Chiefs appear to be an impressive team. Here are three takeaways from their first win of the 2021 campaign.
Top Offensive Trio Remains Nearly Unstoppable
When opposing defenses prepare to face the Chiefs, they know they have to try to find a way to limit the production of Mahomes, Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. That's much easier said than done because that trio can be unstoppable, much like they were Sunday.
Kansas City compiled 397 yards of total offense. Mahomes went 27-of-36 for 337 yards and three touchdowns while also adding a rushing score. Hill had 11 catches for 197 yards and one touchdown. Kelce had six catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
Not many other skill players contributed to the offense. But nobody needed to, especially late. After the Browns took a 29-20 lead with 10:24 to go, Mahomes immediately answered with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Hill. That set up Mahomes' go-ahead TD pass to Kelce on the third play of their next possession.
"That's Patrick Mahomes being Patrick Mahomes," Hill said, per Dave Skretta of the Associated Press.
How can opposing defenses stop Mahomes, Hill and Kelce? It seems like teams are still struggling to figure this out. And it's possible that nobody will anytime soon, meaning more big numbers should be on the way for the Chiefs offense.
The Defense Should Continue to Get Better
Kansas City had some defensive struggles in its opener, especially in the first half. Cleveland had scored 22 points by halftime, and it finished with 457 total yards, which included 321 through the air from quarterback Baker Mayfield. Two of its first-half touchdowns came on rushes by running back Nick Chubb.
However, the Chiefs defense was much better in the second half. The unit allowed only seven points, forced two turnovers and got the stops necessary to allow the team to take control of the game. The Browns' final three possessions resulted in a turnover on downs, a punt and a Mayfield interception, which came when cornerback Mike Hughes picked him off with 1:16 remaining to seal Kansas City's win.
"We've got a group of guys that is able to step up when adversity faces us," Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said, per NFL.com's Jeffri Chadiha. "Especially in critical situations."
And Kansas City did so in this game without two key players. Safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Frank Clark were both inactive for the contest, and the absence of those standouts may have contributed to the Chiefs' early defensive struggles.
Considering Kansas City's defense already showed improvement from the first half to the second against a strong Cleveland offense, this unit should keep getting better, especially once it gets to full strength.
This Is Clearly 1 of the Top Teams in the NFL Again
Was the Chiefs' victory the first win of a perfect 20-0 season? It's much too early to tell, and even if that's what Kansas City is aiming to do, it would be an incredibly difficult task to complete.
While an undefeated season may not be on the horizon, it took only one game for the Chiefs to again solidify their status among the top Super Bowl contenders. After winning a championship two seasons ago and reaching the Super Bowl again last season, Kansas City is a favorite to get there for a third year running.
Over the past two seasons, the Chiefs have lost only seven games, playoffs included. There's little reason to think they won't keep up that level of success going considering their high-powered offense, solid defense and ability to come through at key moments in games, such as in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Kansas City will face a tough test in Week 2, when it goes on the road to face the Baltimore Ravens. But as the Chiefs proved in Week 1, they are capable of beating other top teams in the AFC, so it may be another opportunity for them to showcase just how strong they are.