Monday’s Kansas City Chiefs-LA Rams game came down to six plays.
Five of those plays involve Patrick Mahomes and the learning process for a first year starter at quarterback. There were no defensive fronts anywhere near that skill level in the Big 12 when Mahomes was at Texas Tech. That was Mahomes first exposure to an elite front 7 playing at a very high level. He’ll learn from that. Things happen faster in the NFL. That was a factor on the two lost fumbles and the three interceptions. The pick 6 on the screen is due in large part to a failed block by Mitchell Schwartz. Pressure from the Rams defensive line was a factor on the second interception and Mahomes was trying to make something happen under desperate circumstances on the third. What impressed me was seeing Mahomes shake off the mistakes and go about his business without letting the sudden change in the game bother him. That's rare. Especially in 23 year olds.

The sixth play was a dropped interception by Orlando Scandrick. If he hangs on, the game is over. The football punditry looks at the Chiefs defense and the yardage they give up and start ripping away. Yes, they give up yards. Yes there are some things that need to be addressed in the coming off season. Yards allowed are about as important as the hit total in a baseball line score.

About that Chiefs defense….
They don’t have to be great. Being OK is enough with this offense. Again, yardage allowed does not matter very much. Points allowed matter. Wins matter. This defense does tend to get the job done under the gun. They usually come out and stop the other offense on the first drive or two. Or three. They’re pretty good at getting off the field on third down. (A refreshing change after last year…) That’s allowed this Chiefs offense to build healthy leads. Two and three score leads in the second half start to limit what the other offense can do. That flawed defense has also been very good at keeping offenses—including some very good ones—down by two scores (sometimes more) with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. That includes the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. I’d include Philip Rivers and the Chargers, but he has a way of throwing interceptions to wipe out the Chargers. Rivers wiped out the Chargers in the Denver game last weekend.  He wiped out the Chargers entire season last December at Arrowhead.  Cincinnati’s offense is solid, but the Chiefs defense kept them from getting anything done.

Something else evidently lost on those bellyaching about the defense is the play of the defensive line. Dee Ford isn’t quite Derrick Thomas coming off the edge 25 years ago, but he’s keeping o-coordinators and offensive linemen awake at night. Justin Houston is disruptive as ever. Allen Bailey and Chris Jones are not only tying up blockers to free Ford and Houston, they are making tackles and getting sacks.
We’ve been hearing all year about how great the Rams defensive line is. They live up to the billing. The country also saw Monday night that the Chiefs front 7 can play too.

Monday’s game is a reason for optimism in the Chiefs Kingdom. One of the three best teams in the NFL needed to come up with two fumbles and three interceptions to manage a three point victory over the Chiefs.