Chiefs top defensive plays
1. Willie Gay levels Joe Mixon
07:48 Q3 - 4th and 1 • CIN ball on KC 6
J.Mixon rushed up the middle to KC 9 for -3 yards. Tackled by W.Gay at KC 9.
Win percentage (WP): 58.40% -9.36%
Drive's expected points (EP): 0.00 -3.60
In the game's final moments, the Chiefs defensive sack-fest was the exclamation point for Sunday's great showing. But this play was unequivocally the unit's most important stop against the Bengals. Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. came untouched through the A-gap, setting up something similar to an Oklahoma drill. It was him versus running back Joe Mixon, and Gay won. He, with some help from Tershawn Wharton, stopped the play well short of the line to gain.
Gay had another solid showing in the box score against Cincinnati. He had five combined tackles, the above being his lone tackle for loss. Gay saw a larger snap count on Sunday, despite Drue Tranquill being on the field. His 36 defensive snaps were second among linebackers, trailing Nick Bolton. Wharton had a reduced workload against Cincinnati but still came up with that stop and a sack later on in the game.
2. Sneed puts clamps on Chase
02:55 Q3 - 3rd and 4 • CIN ball on CIN 50
J.Browning steps back to pass. J.Browning pass incomplete deep left intended for J.Chase.
WP: 44.25% -8.60%
EP: 0.00 -1.41
It is no secret that L'Jarius Sneed won the day against Ja'Marr Chase. Despite all the chatter before and after the game, Sneed put the clamps on Chase. The above play may not be one-on-one, but it shows how the Kansas City defense limited Chase to three catches for 41 yards on seven targets. Rookie safety Chamarri Conner did not have a great game, but his bracketing Chase on this play effectively ended the drive.
Sneed's three combined tackles do not stuff the stat sheet, but that is a testament to how rare the ball was around him. He allowed a 49.3 passer rating and only one reception against the Bengals. Sneed has certainly joined the ranks of football's elite cornerbacks, with Week 17 being the latest chapter in his shutting down opposing top receivers.
3. Jake Browning feels the pressure
13:27 Q4 - 3rd and 8 • CIN ball on CIN 27
J.Browning steps back to pass. J.Browning pass incomplete short left intended for T.Hudson.
WP: 22.22% -7.71%
EP: -1.18 -0.94
Sometimes generating pressure is as good as a sack, as it was here with Bengals quarterback Jake Browning. The Chiefs finally had a lead in the fourth quarter, but any score would put the Bengals back on top. But the Chiefs' defense stood tall in the second half, and this drive-ending play was no exception. Both defensive ends, George Karlaftis, and Mike Danna, quickly generate pressure on the edge and flush Browning from the pocket. Bolton applies more pressure on the aggressive spy and those three force Browning's errant pass.
The Chiefs' defense rattled the Bengals backup quarterback thoroughly on Sunday. Kansas City recorded six sacks, tied for the team's most in a game this season. Karlaftis and Danna both recorded multiple quarterback hits, with the former having 1.5 sacks on the day.