Stand up for Sneed
Coming into this game, the Chiefs team—and specifically the defense—were undoubtedly ready to do right by one of their best young players knowing that cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was out for the game. They did just that and much more on Sunday.
Sneed learned of the absolutely horrible news that his brother, TQ Harrison, had been stabbed to death over the weekend. He flew back to his home in Louisiana on a jet provided by Patrick Mahomes and was designated as questionable at first. However, he was downgraded to out shortly before the game when it was clear he was going to remain with family—which was the right call as Sneed should be able to respond and take any/all time that he feels he needs in a devastating moment like this.
On the field, Sneed’s absence should have hurt the team because he’s such a dynamic, versatile performer for Steve Spagnuolo, but the Chiefs no doubt made Sneed proud of his teammates if he was watching them today. In Sneed’s absence, Mike Hughes got plenty of snaps in a slot corner role and performed admirably. Hughes ran in the first play of the game from scrimmage on a fumble recovery turned touchdown. He then also forced another fumble that led to another touchdown for the Chiefs.
Overall, if the Chiefs were hoping to rally together in support of Sneed in this dark time, they certainly did that. Sneed is worthy of Pro Bowl consideration, but it was great to see K.C.”s defense put on a clinic even without such a valuable performer.
While we’ve already talked about the Chiefs defense, we’d be remiss if we didn’t specifically point to the defensive front that made life miserable for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr all afternoon long.
From the first play of the game, Jarran Reed embarrassed the Raiders’ interior and got running back Josh Jacobs to cough up the football with a stellar play in the backfield. From there, Mike Hughes took it to the house to put the Chiefs up by 7. On the ensuing drive from the Raiders, Melvin Ingram, Chris Jones, and Frank Clark each had a sack or a partial sack of Derek Carr—and the theme continued for the rest of the afternoon.
The Chiefs defensive line is turning into one of the very best in the National Football League at this point and it begins with the veteran foursome that line up together to start the game. With Ingram and Clark outside next to Reed and Jones inside, there’s simply not an offensive line who can answer for the presence of all four. It only complicates matters with the way that Spags creates such mystery and movement up front with stunts and/or getting others involved with blitz calls.
From there, the Chiefs are also very deep along the line, since Mike Danna deserves a starting role of his own and Turk Wharton and Derrick Nnadi are such reliable performers inside as well. Alex Okafor has had a multiple memorable plays as another veteran end on the roster who can take rotational snaps and keep the line fresh.
If the game is won and lost in the trenches, the Chiefs are set up well for a long postseason run. These guys are front loaded.