Justin Houston, Alex Smith and Tyreek Hill’s Big Day, Doinks and More
At times it wasn’t pretty. At times it was a work of beauty. At times I was cursing the name of Alex Smith. At times I was screaming about how much I loved him. When the defense had to stop the Denver Broncos, they did. When the offense HAD to get a first down or a score, they did. It was probably the best-coached game head coach Andy Reid has put together since arriving in Kansas City. All three phases. There were ups and downs and bumps in the road, but the end result was what it had to be: the Kansas City Chiefs walked out of Invesco Field at Mile High victorious over the Denver Broncos.
At times it wasn’t pretty. At times it was a work of beauty. At times I was cursing the name of Alex Smith. At times I was screaming about how much I loved him. When the defense had to stop the Denver Broncos, the did. When the offense HAD to get a first down or a score. They did. It was probably the best coached game head coach Andy Reid has put together since arriving in Kansas City. All three phases. There were ups and downs and bumps in the road, but the end result was what it had to be. The Kansas City Chiefs walked out of Invesco Field at Mile High victorious over the Denver Broncos.
Whether you love or hate NBC color commentator–and CEO of Pro Football Focus– Cris Collinsworth, he said repeatedly at the outset of the game that it would be a defensive battle. He wasn’t wrong. The first quarter was devoid of any scoring at all. However, one thing it had was some big defensive hits.
Oh, by the way, there’s a guy on the Chiefs who wears #50. His name is Justin Houston, and he’s back. He’s back so bad that Broncos’ head coach Gary Kubiak benched the starting right tackle, Ty Sambraillo because Houston had done things to him in the first quarter, men won’t even do to other men in prison. It was sick. It was sad. He took Sambraillo’s manhood and left it on the mile-high turf for everyone to see. Oh, Justin Houston is back. He ended the night with three sacks–one that included a forced fumble and safety — more on that in a minute — and twice as many tackles (10) as anyone else on the team. While I understand that the Broncos were trying to compensate for Hali, it was no excuse. When a healthy Dee Ford returns to the field, this pass rush will be at the level of Hali/Houston from a few years ago. Maybe even better.
On the flip side, the Chiefs offense was abysmal in the first quarter. Smith couldn’t find a single receiver, the line wasn’t holding up, not even the running game was producing much. But, considering the Chiefs defense wasn’t allowing the Broncos offense to do anything, it was a wash.
This is where the game got interesting. Remember when I said we’d talk about that safety a little later? Yeah, that’s what got the scoring going. After a monster Dustin Colquitt punt which pinned the Broncos on the seven-yard line, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton lined up Houston inside of Hali on the line of scrimmage. Houston, tired of toying with the right tackle, ran over the left guard, Max Garcia, and destroyed Denver’s quarterback Trevor Siemean in the end zone. Siemean fumbled the ball, and left tackle Russell Okung fell on it. That made the score 2-0, Chiefs. With many hearkening back to the Monday Night Football classic from 1993 in which Joe Montana’s Chiefs went up against John Elway’s Broncos, this play had shades of Derrick Thomas written all over it.
You love my gifs. I know you love my gifs.
If you’re new to the football world, after a team gets a safety, they then receive a “free kick” which is essentially a punt. This is where things got fun. Wanna hear a cool stat? I’ll get there in a minute.
On that free kick, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who has broken a few punt and kick returns this season, but has never gotten to pay dirt for one reason or the other, had the perfect storm. Reversing field and having a litany of Chiefs to block for him, Hill was able to find the “sweet nectar of the end zone” which is probably a direct quote from Mitch Holthus. To make matters better, during the offseason, it was rumored–probably–that there was beef between Hill and the guy who he “was brought in to replace” according to the Twitter analysts, De’Anthony Thomas. However, on this return, DAT as he’s affectionately known, kicked in his own after burners and hi-fived Hill as he crossed the end zone.
As the seconds ticked off the clock to end the first half, the Chiefs were winning by the narrow margin of 9-3. I found myself asking, “why didn’t Andy go for two after the Hill touchdown and make it 10-3?” More on that in a bit.
After the Chiefs came out flat to start the second half, the Broncos were finally able to capitalize on the injuries in the Chiefs secondary, coming away with a touchdown to Emanuel Sanders, the guy who should have been a Chief, but went against his gentleman’s agreement and headed to Denver instead. Anyways, this series showed the weakness that is Phillip Gaines playing outside. I will say I like Gaines, I’ve always liked him, but I like him a lot better on the inside, covering a No. 3 wide receiver, not on the outside, covering an all-pro player like Sanders.
That score put the Broncos up by one point. At that point, many were having little faith that Smith and the offense would be able to drive on the Denver defense and put up any points. It was the first time they’d be wrong on the evening. The crazy thing was, it wouldn’t be the last. The scoring scenario that ensued was one of the crazier things I’ve ever seen. After stalling and a Santos field goal that gave the Chiefs a 12-10 lead, the broadcast went to commercial. Coming back from commercial, the NBC crew of Mike Tirico and Collinsworth explained that Denver was penalized for illegal procedure, which gave the Chiefs a first down. From there, running back Spencer Ware lined up in the Wildcat formation and handed the ball off to Hill, who scored his second touchdown of the night.
It was a thing of beauty that included breaking a Von Miller tackle, a great block by Albert Wilson, and dodging another defender enroute to the end zone. This Hill kid is really good. Remember that stat I mentioned earlier? We’re not quite there yet, but I’ll tell you before we’re done. Don’t let me forget.
This is where things got really interesting. The Chiefs were barely holding onto a six-point lead and the defense was getting no help from the offense. They were tired… no, they were exhausted… and still had to go out and defend All-pro receivers, even if the quarterback was subpar.
The first two scoring drives of the Broncos in the fourth quarter sum up many “fans” thoughts about the Chiefs this season. On both drives, the Chiefs defense had the Broncos offense stopped, only to get burned for long touchdown throws. On both touchdowns, Gaines was the victim getting smoked. In fact, on the huge 75-yarder from Siemean to Bennie Fowler, Gaines actually stopped running in coverage and was physically lost in space, looking for the ball. He had no idea where the ball was. It was embarrassing. He better hope Sutton burns this game film and never makes him look at it again. Ever.
With the score 24-16 Broncos, it looked slim that the Chiefs would be able to pull out a victory and break their horrible Sunday Night Football losing streak. If anyone had confidence in Smith and the Chiefs offense to lead a game-tying drive, nobody was speaking up. But I’ll be damned if that’s not exactly what he did.
Little by little, chunk by chunk, Smith matriculated the ball down the field. He hit the open receivers when he needed to and took every bit the Broncos defense gave him. Perhaps the biggest pass of the drive was on a third-and-ten where he needed to have a first down. On a simple out route to Hill, he not only picked up the first, but Hill was able to jump out of bounds and stop the clock. On the very next play, Smith hit Hill on a crossing pattern in front of the end zone. On yet another crazy turn of events, the play was originally called down at the two-inch line, with the clock running. However, with one second left in regulation, the officials blew the whistle for a review. On perhaps the most controversial call of the game, they overturned the call, giving the score to Hill because he bobbled the ball and didn’t gain possession until he was in the end zone. Yeah, I’m still not sure what a catch is either.
If that drive wasn’t incredible enough, the Alex Smith to Demetrius Harris two-point conversion was even crazier. I apologize for the language, but this was my tweet following that play:
— Ladner Morse (@Laddiemorse) November 28, 2016
Almost ready to talk about that stat, I promise.
I will say it’s hard enough to play 60 minutes of football. I’m sure. Add to that the fact that these players are playing in Denver, which is the highest elevation of any stadium in the league, and it’s even harder. The fact that these players — on both teams — played a full extra quarter of football… I have no words. There will be calls on both sides that are questioned going forward from here. But after trading field goals, and with the clock running out, it is very curious that Kubiak chose to kick a 62-yard field goal, knowing that a miss would put the Chiefs about 15-yards from Santos field goal range. That’s exactly what happened, and if you weren’t jumping up and down, heart pounding and then screaming when Smith hit Travis Kelce — who had a bad case of the drops, but still had a monster game — then you have no pulse and are probably dead.
But if there was any fitting way for this game to end, it was Santos banking the field goal, hitting hard off the left upright and winning the game with no time left in the extra period.
Oh, that stat I kept talking about? Check this out:
Tyreek Hill: first player with a rushing TD, receiving TD and kick return TD in a single game since Gale Sayers (1965 Bears against Vikings)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 28, 2016
This kid is special for sure.
This was the craziest game I’ve seen in a long time. Hands down. Alex Smith proved something tonight. The defense proved something tonight and Tyreek Hill proved something tonight. If you’re really digging, Andy Reid proved something tonight. This wasn’t an ugly win, this wasn’t a defensive win or a special teams win, this was a team win from top to bottom.
The Chiefs walked into Oakland and Denver and beat both teams. They’re contenders. I promise you.
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