The Kansas City Chiefs turned in a fantastic defensive performance in their 24-10 defeat of the Seattle Seahawks at home on Christmas Eve. Once the Chiefs got out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, they were on cruise control from then on. Even though this was not a wholly dominant performance, Chiefs Kingdom finally enjoyed a drama-free game against an opponent they had a clear talent advantage over. The Seahawks have been enjoying an excellent season and tried their best to look hard before the game, but the Chiefs were double-digit favorites and covered their largest spread of the year with ease. Here are my five takeaways from the victory.
Kadarius Toney on Seahawks players w/o shirts pre-game: “They wanted to be tough, but you see the result.” — Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) December 24, 2022
Chiefs Defense Turned In Their Best Performance
The Steve Spagnuolo Haters Union will be much quieter than usual after the performance his defense put forth. Linebackers Nick Bolton and Willie Gay led the way with 26 total tackles between them. They were free to roam the field mainly due the defensive line absolutely abusing their counterparts on the offensive line. Chris Jones and George Karloftis both got sacks and Seattle quarterback Geno Smith was running for his life for what seemed like the entire game. Jones tallied eight quarterback pressures himself and trails only New York Giants’ defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence for most in the league.
Seattle was forced to throw the ball much more often than they were accustomed to in order to try and get back in the game. Smith threw the ball 40 times with 25 completions but only had 215 yards through the air. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was tasked with shadowing Seattle’s top receiving threat in DK Metcalf and held him to only 81 yards on seven catches and no touchdowns. The entire defense was dominant throughout the game, only allowing a field goal and a garbage time touchdown. Chiefs Kingdom has been harping on Spags’ defensive schemes for most of the year, but they will not have much to complain about after this afternoon’s performance.
Chiefs Offense Was Vanilla, But Still Got The Job Done
As dominant as the defense was, the Chiefs offense did not have to do much in order to secure the victory. They were sluggish at times, turning in four three-and-outs, and only gained 28 yards the entire third quarter. Patrick Mahomes ended up with a decent day by his standards, completing 16 of his 28 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Travis Kelce has a good day as well with six catches for 113 yards as he eclipsed 800 receptions for his career.
The offense certainly was not perfect, but there was no need to be in a game like this. The Chiefs got out to an early 17-0 lead and basically put it on cruise control for the rest of the game. The offense was able to find their knockout punch during the fourth quarter. Mahomes drove them 80 yards on five plays and capped it off with a brilliant scramble to put the game away for good. It was certainly not the cleanest performance for the offense, as they were outgained by Seattle 333-297, but it was enough to get the job done.
Pacheco And McKinnon Continue To Be Effective
Kansas City finds themselves with a dynamic duo in the running back room in seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco and ninth-year veteran Jerrick McKinnon. Pacheco is the downhill runner who runs like a runaway semi every single time he touches the ball and is the go-to back in early-down situations. McKinnon is the more polished pass catcher and pass blocker, which makes him ideal for third downs. Pacheco had 90 yards of total offense and averaged 4.1 yards per carry between the tackles. McKinnon did not have a big day, yardage-wise, but did score his sixth touchdown of December on a beautifully executed swing pass.
Pacheco and McKinnon continue to be an effective one-two punch after Clyde Edwards-Helaire was put on the injured reserve. Pacheco always runs just as damn hard as he possibly can and McKinnon matches his energy in the passing game. CEH will be coming back to the active roster in another week or two but it is tough to see where he would fit in this offense. More bodies are typically better than fewer, but the Chiefs have a great thing going and should not feel inclined to mess with the chemistry that has developed in that running back room.
Butker Perfect After Rough Couple Of Weeks
Harrison Butker has not been his usual reliable self this year and was coming off a game where he missed a field goal and an extra point. Questions have been raised about whether Butker can deliver in the playoffs. These questions range from Butker not being fully healed from the injury he suffered in Week One to holder Tommy Townsend perhaps needing work on his craft. With the temperatures being in the single digits, as it could be in the playoffs, this game would be a bit of a measuring stick to see if Butker can still kick it in similar conditions.
Butker was a perfect three for three on extra points in the frozen tundra of Arrowhead and nailed a 47-yard field goal right down the middle. When the temperature gets down to where it was this weekend, kicking the football feels akin to kicking a cinder block. Butker’s kicking leg appears to be still strong as that field goal had plenty of oomph behind it, and there was nothing to note about Townsend’s hold, so everything looks good for the time being. Butker will be called upon to make those kinds of kicks when it really matters, so it was great to see him be on point in the cold.
Chiefs Wide Receivers Will Be Happy To Finally Be At Full Strength
The Chiefs’ wide receivers are getting healthy and should be an ominous sign for the rest of the league. Mecole Hardman is still on the injured reserve but will be coming back soon, so that will be another speed option for opposing defenses to gameplan for. Kadarius Toney played his second game since coming off of the injury report due to his troublesome hamstring and scored a touchdown on a beautifully blocked screen pass.
Justin Watson has been a lovely story this year and filled in nicely during the absence of Toney and Hardman, but he is very much limited in what he can do within this offense. Watson also had three drops in the cold which is entirely unacceptable for any wide receiver, much less one clinging to a starting spot. Toney and Hardman add a speed element that fits in perfectly with what Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes want to do on offense and Watson cannot provide that. The Chiefs are getting healthy at the time and should be a considerable problem come playoff time.