In the Kansas City Chiefs' past two games combined, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's unit has surrendered just 24 points. For a group that struggled at a historically bad level earlier in the 2021 campaign, that's a marked improvement.
Against Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love, who was making his starting debut, the Chiefs' defense was stellar. In all, it held Green Bay to 179 passing yards and just five yards per play. It also stepped up on third downs, as the Packers converted on only two of their 12 opportunities overall — good for a measly 16.7% success rate. In numerous facets, the Chiefs played a quality game on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback L'Jarius Sneed was a major reason why.
Sneed, the Chiefs' 2020 fourth-round pick who burst onto the scene as a rookie and put up a tremendous first year, hasn't had a great sophomore season. He turned back the clock on Sunday, though, and reminded everyone why there was so much hype surrounding him heading into 2021. In addition to racking up six tackles, Sneed broke up a pair of passes and came down with what may have been the biggest (and most important) interception of his young career.
Sneed and the Chiefs' defense did a very good job limiting weapons such as Davante Adams, a player who has a legitimate case for being the top wide receiver in the NFL. On 14 targets, the All-Pro wideout registered six catches for just 42 yards. Kansas City's defensive line also showed up, putting Love under pressure all afternoon and into the evening. When asked about whether the defense has arrived as a group, Sneed said there's room for even more improvement.
"No, we haven't arrived yet," Sneed said. "There's still a lot more work to do. Just taking it day by day, each practice, get better and better."
It's safe to say that the Chiefs needed a defensive gem in order to win the contest against the Packers. Patrick Mahomes and the offense failed to recapture their mojo, putting up just a single touchdown in the outing. Sneed was asked about the defense's ability to pick up the offense on an off day, and he was more than happy with the end result and the process taken to get there.
"It feels great," Sneed said. "We're all together, there's no one pointing fingers or 'that side of the ball' or 'this side of the ball.' We're all together — we'll just keep building from here."
The word "building" has been used quite often by the Chiefs as of late. It's a wise choice of words, as the team has plenty of room to grow for the remainder of the season. It's been a stressful and difficult year for one of football's most talented teams but if the offense gets back to its old form, it may be nearly unstoppable. If the defense continues to improve as well, the Chiefs may be able to jump back into the contender ranks of the NFL's elite.