BUF-KC GRADES: Maclin, Ware help Chiefs overcome
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Chiefs’ 30-22 win over the Bills:
– Rookie cornerback Ronald Darby (-1.2) was off to a fantastic start to his NFL career as he had not allowed a single touchdown in coverage through the first 11 weeks. However, that streak ended against the Chiefs and Darby was at fault for two of Kansas City’s touchdowns. Jeremy Maclin (+3.2) beat the rookie three times for 59 yards including a 41-yard touchdown where Darby could not really do much due to a really nice pass from quarterback Alex Smith (+2.5). He also allowed a touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce (+3.3) and he was beat on a deep pass to Chris Conley (-0.1) too, but the rookie receiver could not haul in Smith’s pass. While Darby allowed a quarterback rating of 145.2 and was only inches away of allowing three touchdowns in coverage, his play through the first 11 weeks tells me that it was rather a bad day for Darby than a sign of things to come.
– While a young player struggled on one side of the ball, another shined and took over the game in the first half on the other side of it. Second-year wide receiver Sammy Watkins (+3.0) was targeted a total of nine times and was completely unstoppable in the first 30 minutes. It says a lot about Watkins’ six catches that he recorded only nine yards after the reception as these were all contested catches in tight coverage and he was tackled shortly after making the receptions. While Watkins did have one drop, it is hard to explain why the Bills did not try to get him more involved in the second half after the way he dominated the Chiefs secondary in the first two quarters.
– Buffalo’s offensive line had quite a mixed performance in pass protection yesterday afternoon. Although their tackles and tight ends struggled with Kansas City’s speedy edge rushers as they combined to allow 10 total pressures, the interior line was really solid. Despite being tasked to protect Tyrod Taylor on 46 dropbacks, left guard Richie Incognito (+3.6), center Eric Wood (+2.2) and right guard Kraig Urbik (+3.8) did not allow a single pressure.
RG Kraig Urbik (+3.8)
LG Richie Incognito (+3.6)
WR Sammy Watkins (+3.0)
C Eric Wood (+2.2)
TE Matthew Mulligan (+2.1)
Kansas City Chiefs
– Alex Smith (+2.5) is widely considered a conservative quarterback who rarely attempts deep passes, which is shown by the fact that prior to yesterday’s game Smith averaged 3.1 pass attempts traveling 20 yards or more per game and he was accurate on 41.9% of such passes. However, Smith attempted five deep passes against the Bills and completed four of them for 126 yards and two touchdowns. While this was the positive side of Smith’s play yesterday, he still struggled occasionally. The quarterback was under pressure on six dropbacks and failed to complete a single pass on these occasions and was also very close to being picked off when he misread a coverage and threw a pass straight to Bacarri Rambo (-0.3), who dropped the interception.
– With Justin Houston (+0.8) going down due to an injury, the Chiefs needed somebody to step up in order to replace the production of the 2014 All-Pro player. It was no surprise that Tamba Hali (+3.8) took on his role and was an even more dangerous edge rusher than usual. Hali had success on both sides of the field against both tackles of the Bills as he recorded a sack, a quarterback hit and six quarterback hurries. Although Hali missed two tackles and struggled against the run, due to his work in rushing the passer, he was still the best player on the field yesterday.
– Having lost first Jamaal Charles then Charcandrick West due to injuries, the Chiefs’ running back situation appeared to be a question mark. However, Spencer Ware (+1.7) was able to take advantage of the situation for the second week in a row. While Ware already flashed promising ability against the Chargers, he was even better against Buffalo on Sunday. The former LSU running back was able to complement Kansas City’s passing game with several decisive, powerful runs that resulted in first downs in key situations, including the last minutes when he picked up a first down that was necessary for the Chiefs to run out the clock. Overall, Ware forced three missed tackles on 19 carries yesterday and picked up 83 of his 114 yards after contact.
OLB Tamba Hali (+3.8)
TE Travis Kelce (+3.3)
WR Jeremy Maclin (+3.2)
ILB Derrick Johnson (+2.7)
QB Alex Smith (+2.5)