The Kansas City Chiefs‘ faithful let out a collective exhale as Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye’s 67-yard attempt fell harmlessly wide right as time expired. With it, the Chiefs became the NFL's first eight-win team in 2020.
The Panthers, on the other hand, are going to have trouble calling this even a moral victory. It's their fourth straight loss, and they now sit in the basement of the NFC South.
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Story of the Game
The Panthers had absolutely no answers for Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The perennial Pro-Bowler had about as dominant an outing as you’ll ever see from the tight end position. He hauled in 10-of-12 targets for 159 yards with two broken tackles. While he did a lot of the heavy lifting, Tyreek Hill was the one punching it in, reeling in nine catches for 113 yards and two scores. In a game that featured arguably the two best one-two receiving punches, Kelce and Hill came out on top of D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.
Teddy Bridgewater‘s stat line looks good at the end of the day, but it was no banner performance for the Panthers' quarterback by any means. His inability to push the ball down the field was ultimately the death knell for Carolina's offense. His average depth of target on the day was only 4.2 yards down the field, and only 36.1% of his yards came through the air. Compare that to the other side of the ball, where Patrick Mahomes‘ average depth of target was 9.8 yards downfield and he gained 66.4% of his yards through the air. It looked like they were playing different positions altogether.
Of course, the Panthers' defense can shoulder a good deal of the blame in the loss, as well. Even with right tackle Mitchell Schwartz out, the Panthers still struggled to consistently affect Mahomes with their front four. Carolina sacked Mahomes only once and pressured him on just 11 of his 47 dropbacks on the day.
While he wasn’t on the field much, second-round linebacker Willie Gay Jr. made his presence felt. He played only 11 snaps yet had a stop in the run game. The faster he can get up to speed, the better; the Chiefs' linebacker corps has had its fair share of issues this year.
Panthers first-rounder Derrick Brown made his presence felt in the run game, as well. He registered three stops as the Chiefs basically ignored their ground game for much of the day. We’ve still yet to see that same impact translate as a pass-rusher, however. Brown managed a mere one pressure on 32 pass-rushes on the day.
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