- Alex Smith tripled his interception total. Two interceptions were thrown by non-quarterbacks. Andy Reid lost coming out of a bye week. All of which to say ... this was a weird game.
“Gentlemen, congratulations,” said referee Brad Allen, as the overtime period for a 9–9 contest between the Giants and the Chiefs began.
His comment made little sense, but then again, not much about this game did. The Giants, a team that entered this game 1–8 and coming off a loss to the previously winless 49ers, emerged with a 12–9 win against the Chiefs, a team that opened the season with the particularly rare feat of upsetting the Patriots in Foxborough. In the spirit of head-scratching, here are six ways in which the Giants-Chiefs game defied conventional wisdom.
1. The once explosive and exciting Chiefs offense was stymied by a Giants defense that ranked in the bottom five in the league in important defensive categories like yards and points allowed. After five weeks of the season, the Chiefs were the NFL’s only undefeated team and were averaging 414 yards of total offense a game and more than 32 points per game, the latter mark the best in the league. Since then, they’ve lost four out of five games and scored fewer than 20 points three times. Sunday’s loss was Kansas City’s lowest point total of the season. Kareem Hunt only had 73 rushing yards. Speedster Tyreek Hill had just 91 all-purpose yards—rushing, receiving and returning. “We have the playmakers and the plan to do it,” quarterback Alex Smith insisted, “it’s a matter of getting done.”
2. Smith tripled (and nearly quadrupled) his season interception total. Smith had thrown just one interception in the previous nine games, before giving the ball away twice on Sunday: The first was on a shovel pass that was bobbled into the hands of Damon Harrison. “I could have read it differently,” he said. The second was on a deep throw over the middle that was snatched away by Janoris Jenkins, the embattled Giants CB who was suspended for one game earlier this season for going AWOL after the bye week, and who has been criticized for a lack of effort in last week’s loss in San Francisco. “I thought Janoris Jenkins played his tail off,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said.
3. Two of the four interceptions in the game were thrown by non-quarterbacks. On the Giants’ opening drive, RB Shane Vereen threw to an open Evan Engram right at the goal line, but the floating pass took to long to get there. As it hung in the air linebacker Daniel Sorenson cut under the ball to intercept it. Later, the Chiefs tried some trickery of their own when TE Travis Kelce launched a deep pass that traveled about 55 yards in the air to the Giants’ 10-yard line, where safety Landon Collins plucked it from the air. Here’s guessing that only QBs will be throwing for these teams for a while.
4. Eli Manning was sacked zero times and hit only once, against a Chiefs defense featuring Justin Houston, while the Giants’ best offensive lineman, Justin Pugh, was out of the game with a back injury.
5. Just when you thought this game was headed for a tie… Giants WR Roger Lewis, who had 14 catches on the season entering this game, caught a 34-yard pass, while being interfered with by the defender, to set up New York’s game-winning field goal in overtime. The Giants were without all three of their season-opening starting receivers: Odell Beckham, Jr. and Brandon Marshall are on IR, and Sterling Shepard missed Sunday’s game with migraines. While sliding to the ground, and with his right arm being pinned down by the defender, Lewis somehow cradled the ball to his chest with control to make the play.
6. Andy Reid lost coming out of the bye week. You know the stat bandied about, about how often the veteran coach wins after the bye. Entering today’s game, Reid’s post-bye record was 16–2, and this seemed like the perfect situation for the Chiefs to get back on track after starting 5–0 then hitting a 1–3 slide. Instead, their slide continued. Chiefs players insisted they didn’t overlook the battered Giants. “I saw this—not this outcome—but this effort and this attention to detail [from the Giants] coming from a mile away just because of the stuff you heard in the media, that their coach isn’t challenging them, and stuff like that,” tight end Travis Kelce said. But no one could have predicted this kind of performance coming from the Chiefs.
Now 6–4, the Chiefs are still in control of a slumping AFC West. But for much of the last month—and particularly on Sunday at MetLife Stadium—the Chiefs look far from the legitimate Super Bowl contenders they appeared to be on opening night in Foxborough.