The overtime win for the Kansas City Chiefs over the Baltimore Ravens showed Patrick Mahomes is tough. The entire NFL has spent the year marveling over the athletic ability and arm strength of the Chiefs franchise quarterback.
He has performed superhuman feats in nearly every NFL game he has played. The young gunslinger can take a hit. He was hit 15 times during the game by one of the top defenses in the NFL and he got up every time thinking about the next play. Opposing teams have tried to scheme with ways to handle the powerful Chiefs offense.
Mahomes is the X-Factor in any game plan. You can draw up a game plan on the chalkboard, but the Chiefs quarterback is no ordinary X. He makes the broken play look like an art form. There is nothing any coach in the world can do when this young man breaks away in the pocket and starts to scramble. He has a knack for the impossible.
Very few athletes have his skill set combined with an awareness of what is going on around him every single play. The Ravens had a great game plan going into the game. Their plan was to throw as many blitz packages at him as they could draw up and to try to hit him in the mouth to make him gun shy. They did catch him on a few blitzes, but he also burned them a few times because of the blitz.
Mahomes is obviously smart as well as talented. He knows the game and will improve with each blitz sees because he is a student of the game. He has a special competitive toughness. He is a player with a fire in the belly.
The Ravens thought they could dominate him mentally and physically, but they came out on the short end of the stick. It was a big test that he passed with flying colors.
Other NFL teams will start to draw up exotic defenses to mess with his mind and every team in the league will be looking to loosen his chin strap every chance they get. When he does his scrambling act, he needs to get down or out of bounds quickly. Make no mistake – they will be head hitting.
Looking ahead to the playoffs, the defense has to figure out a way to get at least two stops each half. Kansas City is built on the opponent playing from behind. The defense has been criticized this year, but they are built to rush the passer when the other team is playing from behind.
Overall, the secondary has held its ground for most of the year. Steven Nelson has had a solid year and Kendall Fuller is good on the inside receivers. Orlando Scandrick has been a weak link but at times he has made a play. If he could catch the football, he would have had three interceptions that could have made a big difference.
The run game can be their Achilles heel. Their biggest weakness is at inside linebacker and safety positions. However, if the team had not gotten Ron Parker back, we may have not made the playoffs.
The two inside linebackers have been total disappointments. Both Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens are catchers not tacklers. They do not wrap up and finish tackles, which means a 3-yard gain becomes a 9 or 10-yard gain.
The safeties are the second wall of players to stop the run and they have trouble wrapping up in the open field. If they get behind by two scores and are playing a team able to run the football, they will be in big trouble.
The other area the Chiefs must win every game at is special teams. The Ravens game was the first time all year that the special teams did not win the battle. Two missed fields goals and a punt return to set up a score can spell doomsday for the Chiefs.
Harrison Butker took all the heat for his missed game winning field goal in regulation, but the snap by James Winchester was bad. Fortunately, Dustin Colquitt made a good play to get the ball down to kick. Butker has had trouble the last couple of weeks with extra points as well. Kickers are good when they do not think and just kick the ball.
Hopefully Butker can think less about the past and focus on the future. In Kansas City that there will come a time during the playoffs for the kicker to be clutch. The Chiefs are in the playoffs again and that means they have a shot to be the champions. Keep BELIEVING!
• Thursday night football should be outlawed. The NFL preaches safety for their players but have them play two pro football games in five days. That is ridiculous. Do they care about the safety of players or about the money?
• My quote of the week comes from Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker George Blanda: “The question people ask most is what I think about when I line up for a kick. They want to know if feel the pressure, but I never think about that. Instead, I concentrate on looking at the spot where the ball will be put.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.