In another weird game, the Kansas City Chiefs found a way to emerge victoriously. With the Los Angeles Chargers winning earlier on Sunday and getting to 7-5 on the season, the Chiefs needed a win on Sunday Night Football in order to keep sole possession of first place in the AFC West. They managed to do so, rising to 8-4 and defeating the now 6-6 Denver Broncos by a final score of 22-9.
Here are four takeaways from Sunday's game.
1. Melvin Ingram's impact is obvious
The Chiefs' defense turned in yet another impressive performance, and Ingram was a major reason why. From the moment the Broncos' offense first stepped onto the field, they had their work cut out for them. On that initial possession, Ingram sniffed out a second-down run and also recorded half a sack. The Chiefs don't need him to be dominant in order to have a successful pass rush, and his consistent and steady contributions are more than enough. I only have four spots to work with here, so I'm also going to add in some praise for Jarran Reed, Juan Thornhill and Charvarius Ward as well. They all made plays throughout the evening and deserve to be recognized.
2. Byron Pringle giveth and taketh away
Pringle's production in recent weeks has been rather inconsistent and despite that, he appears to be the Chiefs' No. 2 receiving target as of now. He had a few drops against the Broncos, which is uncharacteristic of him. He also made a savvy play on special teams by being blocked into a punt returner and causing him to fumble the football, which is a great representation of who Pringle is as a player. He's intelligent and he doesn't wow anyone, but he can be counted on to make the right play most of the time. He wasn't his normal self on Sunday but in some ways, he was the same as he's always been. The duality of Pringle's performance was one of the more interesting developments during the Chiefs' win. If he can find a way to level out moving forward, he'll be back on track.
3. Andy Reid didn't have his best game
Reid's opening script against the Broncos was excellent, as he manufactured ways to get his receivers open while also keeping Patrick Mahomes comfortable and even mixing in some run plays. After that, he called an extremely conservative game and did very little to protect nor help his offense. Reid's lack of in-game adjustments has hurt the Chiefs at times this season and if the Broncos would have put up more of a fight, that could have been the case again on Sunday. One instance that stuck out the most was when Kansas City had multiple timeouts and over a minute of game time left to put points on the board before halftime. Contrary to what the Chiefs have done time and time again in the Reid-Mahomes era, they killed the clock and ended up punting instead. Reid needs to be better because if he can't settle into a groove come playoff time, the Chiefs' opponents won't be as forgiving.
4. Sloppy football continues to be a theme
Dropped passes. A general lack of focus. Lazy routes and throws. All of these elements have been major red flags for the Chiefs in 2021, and they weren't much better on Sunday. Much like Reid's rough night, it didn't end up mattering in the final outcome, but it can and likely will once it's time for the playoffs. At this point in the season, stacking wins together is the top priority. With that said, the Chiefs are their own biggest enemies right now. A two-score win doesn't make any of these aforementioned issues too pressing, but they exist. In a playoff-level environment, the margin for error isn't nearly as wide.