Even after three years of having Patrick Mahomes as the starting quarterback, it can be easy to forget just how undaunted the K.C. Chiefs can be in the face of a significant opponent. Yet on Sunday, Chiefs Kingdom was reminded once again of what it means to have an array of future Hall of Famers playing in their prime together, led by Mahomes. It means no single game is out of reach.
But they weren’t the only heroes on the day. Chiefs Kingdom had plenty of lesser appreciated heroes than the stars on Sunday afternoon. These were key players making key plays that filled in the gaps toward victory even as the team’s most well-known players were doing what they do best in order to engineer a major win in the AFC.
Instead of focusing on the obvious players, we thought we’d take a moment to point to some players who might not get as much attention this week.
Of all of our “overlooked heroes”, Juan Thornhill actually received the most attention. While no one on the entire defense was worthy of much recognition during the first half, Thornhill turned into a monster in the second half with multiple important plays that altered the course of the game in big and small ways.
The most important play was the forced fumble on Nick Chubb that turned into a key turnover that halted the Browns momentum and allowed the Chiefs to climb back into it. There was also a key bit of coverage on rookie speedster Anthony Schwartz (who looks incredible) to break up a pass. And there were more plays than that.
The shift in the storyline for Thornhill is an important one for the safety and his team. Thornhill looked like a real force in the secondary during his rookie season in 2019, a good use of a second round draft pick next to Tyrann Mathieu as a new tandem in the secondary. Then came the season-ending knee injury that has plagued him ever since. It created a question of whether he would ever get back to being the same player again.
For the Chiefs, it’s going to be important to maintain a high quality of play at safety given that they’re not exceptionally deep at the position and Mathieu is nearing 30. If this is a sign that Thornhill is feeling healthier, the Chiefs should feel much better about the defense on the back end.