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The Dixon Five: Chiefs beat Steelers 42-37 The

Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:54 pm
by panxing18
Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-37 on Sunday at Heinz Field. Here are five hot takes from the game:1. ZeroThat’s how many days it’s been since the Chiefs beat the Steelers on their home turf. Until the game clock ticked down to triple zeros at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon Steven Nelson Jersey , the previous count had reached 11,592.(Thanks to Gary McKenzie for making the original calculation).That’s more than 31 years — more than a whole generation, and even longer than the time between Todd Blackledge’s last start as a Chief and Patrick Mahomes’ first one.And it’s not a coincidence that those two are roughly similar periods of time, and occurred almost simultaneously.It’s hard to imagine a more telling illustration of how dramatically things have changed for the Chiefs in 2018 than Sunday’s victory in Pittsburgh. And in this moment, it seems appropriate to propose that we change the focus of our record keeping to reflect this new reality:It has now been 336 days since the Steelers defeated the Chiefs on the road.Of course, Mahomes will no longer be the Chiefs quarterback when this new streak reaches past 11,592 days. By that time, even my grandson Jack will be reaching the end of his career as Kansas City’s starting quarterback under head coach Eric Berry and offensive coordinator Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.Unless — unlike Mahomes — he opts to become a pitcher instead of a quarterback.2. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesAnd yes... it is the light of an approaching train.It’s painted entirely in red, and has Patrick Mahomes Hype Train in enormous gold letters on each side, so no one can miss it.This train has been running a regular schedule throughout the Midwest since April of 2017.But now, its speed is being increased, and its route is being expanded to include the entire country, with stops at every sports news outlet and talk show — along with break rooms and water coolers at every place of business.I’d normally want to remind you that a train traveling at such a high speed is inherently dangerous to ride, because it can run off the rails so easily.But it sure is fun, isn’t it?3. Hello Sammy Watkins!Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesIf you’ve been waiting for the high-priced offseason acquisition to make an impact on the Chiefs offense, your wait is over.On Sunday, he had 71 yards on four catches — plus another 31 yards on an end around.And that was just in the first half!He finished the game with 100 yards on six catchesWatkins really showed his stuff on Sunday — getting big yards after the catch, and repeatedly demonstrating his attitude as a ball carrier.This is the advantage Kansas City now possesses: when the opposing team has no choice but to prepare to stop Tyreek Hill, you can script your offense around Watkins (or some other receiver) to start the game.It worked beautifully for the Chiefs in the first half, and then they shifted the focus to Hill in the second.But even late in the game, Watkins had another big gain where he reminded everybody why the Chiefs wanted him on their roster.4.Hello Travis Kelce!Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesHere’s another new reality to which we now have to adjust: when one of the Chiefs receivers doesn’t have a big game, it doesn’t necessarily represent a problem.Travis Kelce had only one catch for six yards in last week’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers Nick Allegretti Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys , and more than a few people pointed it out.And that’s OK.Back when the Chiefs didn’t have so many offensive weapons, such a thing could be (and often was) a sign that something was wrong.But in Patrick Mahomes World, all of the Chiefs receivers are going to have days like that.And then they’ll have days like the one Kelce had on Sunday, where he had 106 yards on seven catches, along with two touchdowns.That’s the whole point of having so many offensive weapons — that the opposition has to prepare for all of them, and you get to decide which ones are going to get the emphasis.5. Goodbye rational discussion about the Chiefs defense.Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesNow that the Steelers are just the latest team to put up big yards on the Chiefs defense, the drumbeat is going to get louder.The defense is terrible.The Chiefs didn’t do anything about the secondary in the offseason.Bob Sutton is still living in the 1960s.I’m not going to argue against any of those points — and I doubt it would matter if I did.I’d just point out that if you have an offense that can score so quickly — which the Chiefs certainly do — the end result is that your defense is going to be on the field longer.On Sunday, the Steelers ran 20 more plays than the Chiefs did, and held the ball four and a half minutes longer.That adds up to a tired defense.Furthermore, if your team can routinely jump out to big leads early in the game — which so far, has been the case for the Chiefs — the opponent has no choice but to respond with more emphasis on the passing game.That adds up to a lot of passing yards given up.I’m not suggesting that we should just shrug our shoulders and accept it.The defense is going to have to be better for the Chiefs to have realistic playoff expectations.But with such an explosive offense in hand, it takes pressure off the defense, giving them time to develop as a unit and improve.They don’t have to be the best in the league.But if they can even be average, that might be enough for the Chiefs to be a very hard team to beat at the end of the year. All season, I’ve been trying to put my finger on it — what it is that makes Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes so incredibly special.We all see his talent on the field — and now that it seems likely he’ll be named the NFL MVP for 2018, we see that his talent is being recognized across the country, too.But still... there’s been something else — something I couldn’t quite put into words.And then, listening to Mahomes speak to the press on Tuesday and reflecting on what he said, it finally hit me:Rich Gannon.Gannon came to the Chiefs in 1995 during my third year covering the team.It was a typical Carl Peterson move — to not only have an experienced veteran as your quarterback, but also as your backup quarterback.At the time, I thought it was a genius move because Gannon had come at zero cost.He had been signed off the street.Gannon had been drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 1987 NFL draft.Their intent was to convert Gannon into a running back, but they ultimately traded him to the Minnesota Vikings Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys 2019 , where he spent six seasons. Gannon eventually became the starting quarterback, but by the end of the 1992 season, Gannon was displaced by Sean Salisbury and ended up as a backup for the Washington Redskins in 1993.He spent 1994 on his sofa and came to the Chiefs as a 30-year-old quarterback with 35 starts under his belt.Once I learned his story, I made a point to get to know him.It was never very difficult — backup quarterbacks don’t attract a lot of media attention — and I was immediately struck by how real he was.He knew how to deal with the media, but it didn’t stop him from being honest in his answers.I clearly remember asking him New Backup Quarterback Standard Question No. 26 about the difficulty of adjusting to a new offensive scheme — a question that typically elicits a response about the time it takes to learn a new offense.“It’s no big deal,” Gannon said. “These offenses are all pretty much the same.”He was refreshing in that answer — and many others that followed — and quickly became one of my favorite Chiefs players.I was thrilled when he started getting more playing time behind the former San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks who then started for the Chiefs — and like so many others, was disappointed when he went back to the bench for the 1997 playoffs after playing so brilliantly at the end of the season.And I wasn’t a bit surprised when he led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl after the 2002 season.Rich Gannon was the real deal.He knew how to prepare — to be ready for any eventuality.Nothing fazed him.He was a leader. He was humble and honest — the kind of person to which other people naturally gravitate.Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty ImagesAnd that is Patrick Mahomes — except that he also has a howitzer strapped to his right shoulder, and is just 23 years old.On Tuesday, the media really wanted him to talk about the Chiefs’ failure to collect a playoff win against the Indianapolis Colts in four consecutive tries over almost a quarter of a century.One reporter asked if he understood what getting a playoff win — especially at home against the Colts — would mean to the city.”Every playoff game is big,” Mahomes said — clearly the beginning of Playoff Quarterback Standard Answer #31. “We’re excited...”The reporter cut him off. No... not just any playoff game.This. Particular. One.”For me, it’s my first playoff game,” Mahomes answered. “I’m excited just to be here, and at the same time, get the opportunity to go out there and win games like this. When you [are growing] up, you want to play games like this. You get older and you want to be a professional athlete, you want to win on the biggest stage. So for me, it’s about going out there to be myself, lean on my teammates, and win a big football game.”That wasn’t the answer reporters wanted, either.Even at his young age, Mahomes — probably from the years he spent following his father from one Major League Baseball clubhouse to another — knows how to answer a reporter’s question.So the reporter tried another tactic.Did Mahomes know that the Colts have as many playoff wins at Arrowhead Stadium as the Chiefs do?”That’s... in the past,” Mahomes finally said. “All of us... we’re here now. We’re focused on the present day. We feel like we have a different team — that we can go out there and win a big football game.”And that is the essence of Patrick Mahomes.He’s not just an incredible athlete with the intelligence — and the laser-focus — to play the most difficult position in the most complex sport.He also has the maturity to recognize how important it is to tread lightly with the news media — but still has enough inner child to give a candid Nick Allegretti Jersey nfl draft , honest answer.The reporters wanted to know if his leadership ability was something he had learned, or something he just... did.Mahomes didn’t really answer the question, but nonetheless gave a very revealing answer.”You have to love the game,” he said. “We’re so fortunate that we’re able to be in this position. We’re fortunate that we’re able to play a sport that we love for a living — to go out there and have fun. You want to keep on an even keel. You want to make sure you’re never too high and never too low, but at the same time, you have to love this game, and love everything about it.”The reporters asked about the support the communities have given to the teams for which he has played since high school and then asked Mahomes if it was difficult to be involved in the community — on top of the team’s demands for his time and the “emotional toll” of the season.Mahomes seemed astounded by the question.”I don’t think [there has been] any emotional toll. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. You have your plan. You get in your hours where you have to be here and prepare yourself for the week, but at the same time, when you get those opportunities -- when you can go out and just be part of the community -- you enjoy those. That’s it for me. I enjoy being a part of this community, knowing that I’ve prepared myself well, and I can go out there, execute the game plan and win football games.”And that’s when it happened — when I saw the connection between the 23-year-old Mahomes playing in his first season as a starter, and the 30-year-old veteran of four teams that I first knew so long ago.Gannon — after being away from the game for a year — had reconnected with it.It was fun again.Not just the games, but the practices, the meetings, the film study, the outreach with the community... everything.It’s all fun when you love what you do.And when you have done all you can to be prepared to do it at a high level, there is even room for joy in your heart — so much so that you can focus on the most essential part of the game when the reporters ask how you prepare for the biggest contest of your young life.”I think just relying on your teammates is the biggest thing,” Mahomes said. “I have a big advantage here — that I have a lot of great teammates that can make a lot of plays. I don’t have to try to do too much. I don’t have to try and make a huge play every single time. Just get the ball out of my hands and get to Tyreek... get it to Kelce... get it to all these guys that can make plays, and let them do what they’ve been doing all season.”Chiefs fans... this is your quarterback.Whatever happens on Saturday, you can stand proudly.