We circled Sunday's Jaguars-Chiefs as a matchup between Patrick Mahomes and the Jaguars' vaunted defense. What some of us might've forgotten is that this was also a matchup between Mahomes and Blake Bortles. Even with Mahomes not as his electrifying best, there's not many greater mismatches in football -- especially with Bortles at his disastrous worst.
On Sunday, the Chiefs passed yet another test, jumping out to a 20-0 halftime lead thanks to countless mistakes by Bortles and the Jaguars, and proceeded to run away with a 30-14 win.
Mahomes threw for 313 yards. Bortles turned the ball over five times. And the Chiefs are 5-0 as their attention now turns to the Patriots. The Jaguars, meanwhile, dropped to 3-2 and they'll be forced to once again reckon with the unfortunate reality that their quarterback is more likely to lose them a game than he is to win them a game.
We'll start with Mahomes and work our way down to Bortles, because Mahomes remains the best story in football. He's the best quarterback in football right now guiding the best offense in football right now on arguably the best team in football right now. A week ago, in what was considered his biggest test of the season,. This week, he beat the Jaguars. It wasn't flashy. The statistics won't reflect it. But Mahomes was impressive again, even if he's slowly slipping back down to normal levels of superstardom.
The Chiefs came out firing. On their first series, they journeyed 73 yards on 10 plays. They faced one third down on that drive. On that third down, Mahomes threw an absolute dart to Travis Kelce -- wait no, that's not Travis Kelce. That's Anthony Sherman, the Chiefs' FULLBACK, who was unleashed for a 15-yard route downfield.
From there, Mahomes polished off the drive by scoring a touchdown on the ground for the second-straight week. It's insane that for someone as athletic as Mahomes, he runs so rarely. But his legs are a weapon. And the Chiefs can continue to use that weapon as defenses adjust to their passing attack.
After the Jaguars passed up a long field goal and opted to pin the Chiefs with a punt (bad decision), the Chiefs drove right back downfield on a 14-play, 82-yard drive that ended with a field goal (a theme of the day). Notable on that drive was a third-and-9 that the Chiefs converted by perfectly timing a screen against a rare Jaguars blitz.
The Jaguars moved the ball again, but they couldn't turn a productive series into points, failing to pick up a first down inside the 5-yard line and turning the ball over on downs. Mahomes then threw his first interception of the season on his 159th pass attempt when the ball slipped out of his hand and his pass flew over Tyreek Hill in the middle of the field.
Not a great place to miss:
One play later, the Jaguars got the ball back thanks to Dee Ford's strip sack of Bortles. Again, the Chiefs kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 13-0. At halftime, they led 20-0 after Bortles got pick-sixed by Chris Jones and then threw an interception in the end zone. It was the Jaguars' largest halftime deficit since 2016.
On the other side of the break, Mahomes led a 12-play, 78-yard drive that ended in another field goal. After the Jaguars struck back with a touchdown, which technically turned the game into a two-score contest, Mahomes iced the game with a downfield strike to Hill, who burned All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Not bad for a "return specialist."
It was Kareem Hunt who put the game away for good.
Because Mahomes didn't throw any touchdowns, his final stat line will be negatively skewed. Late in the game, when the win was already secure, he threw another interception to further soil his stat line.
Statistically, this was Mahomes' worst outing of the season. He finished 22 of 38 for 313 yards (8.2 YPA), no touchdowns, two picks, and a 62.7 passer rating.
But again, he still managed to throw for more than 300 yards. In consecutive weeks, he's thrown for more than 300 yards against the Broncos (in Denver) and Jaguars. If he didn't score his touchdown on the ground and if Hunt hadn't vultured a touchdown away from him, his final stat line would've looked substantially better.
The only serious gripe is that the Chiefs settled for far too many field goals, but consider that the Chiefs' offense just dropped 23 points on a defense that entered the game allowing 14 points per game. That'll work. They ran the Jaguars' ragged by sustaining lengthy drives and spreading the ball around. Nine different Chiefs caught a pass. Ten were targeted.
If someone had told you that Mahomes would throw two interceptions and no touchdowns, you probably would've picked the Jaguars to win a low-scoring game. In that sense, it's scary that Mahomes threw two interceptions and no touchdowns, and the Chiefs still blew out the Jaguars, a team that's supposed to be one of the favorites in the AFC.
The Chiefs might just be the favorite. They're the last undefeated team in the conference. They're keeping a list like Arya Stark and crossing off the names week after week after week.
The Patriots are next. The Iron Throne in the AFC awaits.
It's problematic that the Jaguars have a quarterback who is more likely to lose them a game than win them one. It's problematic that the Jaguars aren't really capable of overcoming early deficits because their quarterback isn't good enough to manufacture comebacks. Blake Bortles is a problem.
Also a problem: Bortles attempted 61 passes! Sixty-one!
Having the benefit of garbage time to pad his stats against a defense lacking their three best players (Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Chris Jones), he finished with 430 yards on 33 completions (7.0 yards per attempt), one touchdown (and one rushing touchdown), four interceptions, and a 54.7 passer rating. Throw out the statistics, because this is the kind of game where the statistics were skewed by the gigantic gap in points. Bortles did almost all of his damage when the game was already out of reach.
That being said, he did make a few nice throws downfield. The only problem was that he made far more mistakes than big plays. Turnovers defined his day. There were five, in all.
He got strip sacked after Mahomes' first pick. Then, he threw an ugly pick-six that put the Jaguars in a 20-0 hole.
He had a chance to make the game interesting just before halftime, but he got picked in the end zone.
Let's take a closer look at that interception, because it seriously looks like Bortles intentionally threw that into his teammate's helmet:
This, for the hat-trick, seems like a fitting way to finish his highlight reel.
The Chiefs' defense came into the game allowing 28.8 points per game. They held the Jaguars to 14 points, all of which came in the second half of a blowout. Give the Chiefs some credit, but put most of the blame on the Jaguars, who refused to run the ball against a bad run defense and tried to out-gun Mahomes.
This shouldn't be the plan
One series typified the Jaguars' flawed game-plan. Trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, the Jaguars pieced together a 13-play, 72-yard series by running the ball right up until the moment they faced a third-and-2 from inside the 5-yard line.
On third down, they threw a fade to Donte Moncrief, which fell incomplete. On fourth down, they threw incomplete again.
Going for a fourth-and-short against a bad defense is the right call, but the play-calls were all wrong. If the Jaguars knew they would go for it on fourth down, why weren't they running the ball on third down? The Chiefs cannot stop the run. They entered the game allowing a league-high 5.7 yards per carry! Even after they went down 10-0, the Jaguars shouldn't have panicked. They should've stuck with their ground game, because there was no way in hell Bortles throwing the ball more than 60 times was going to work out.
As a team, the Jaguars averaged 5.9 yards per run with T.J. Yeldon (10 carries for 53 yards) leading the way. But they attempted only 17 total runs (for 101 yards) with Bortles accounting for four of those carries.
Late in the game, Bortles scored a bizarre 21-yard touchdown on the ground. It was bizarre because the Chiefs' defense pretty much gave up on the idea of tackling.
That right there is why the Jaguars needed to run the ball. The Chiefs' defense can't tackle runners in space.
Chiefs can attack the quarterback
The Chiefs can do one thing well on defense, and that's rushing the passer. Once again, the Chiefs' pass rush affected the quarterback. Chris Jones strip sacked Bortles. Dee Ford picked up his fourth sack of the season and forced another interception by hurrying Bortles. Allen Bailey pushed his sack total to four.
As a team, the Chiefs brought down Bortles five times. The Chiefs are averaging three sacks per game. Their secondary might not be any good (they need to get Eric Berry back ASAP), but they can rush the passer.
Tyreek Hill vs. Jalen Ramsey
Before the game, Ramsey stirred the airwaves when" after Hill expressed excitement about their matchup. The two, as expected, didn't spend the entire game against each other, but they did match up on a few occasions.
Hill got Ramsey once, as seen above. But Ramsey also got Hill, sticking with him on this home-run ball.
Call it a draw. Hill didn't completely explode the way he's capable of, catching four passes for 61 yards, but he showed Ramsey why he's so deadly. All it takes is one play for him to explode.
Travis Kelce dominates
A week ago, Kelce got shut out in the first half before exploding with a seven-catch, 78-yard, one-score second half, helping the Chiefs escape Mile High with a win. This week, he served as the focal point of the Chiefs' attack.
It's easy for Mahomes pic.twitter.com/FyELJgaFyJ— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 7, 2018
He finished with five catches for 100 yards.
Justin Houston leaves with hamstring injury
Some bad news about the Chiefs' pass rush: Houston left the game with a hamstring injury. He did not return.
Maybe the Chiefs just wanted to keep one of the best defensive players on the sideline during a blowout. But hamstrings can be tricky. It's an injury worth monitoring.
Rollercoaster day for Chris Jones, Dee Ford
With two sacks, a forced fumble, and a touchdown between them, Jones and Ford enjoyed productive outings ... right up until the moment they got ejected. Jones was tossed for hitting a Jaguars player on the ground after an extra point while Ford got ejected for two personal fouls.
The #Chiefs are good but, boy, are they undisciplined. This taunt by Dee Ford resulted in the team's fourth personal foul and second ejection of the game. The bench has also been given a warning from the officials pic.twitter.com/g7RVhYUujL— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) October 7, 2018
Considering the circumstances, it really was the best time for the Chiefs to lose their three (including Houston) best defensive players.
Corey Grant exits with foot injury
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Grant is out for the season.
Jaguars believe RB Corey Grant suffered Lisfranc injury that is likely to end his season, per sources. With Leonard Fournette out with a hamstring injury, Jaguars need RB help.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 7, 2018
Grant finishes the year with 107 yards on 22 touches.
The Chiefs' tough stretch continues with a trip to Foxborough, where they'll confront the 3-2 Patriots. If the Chiefs can knock off the Patriots on the road, they'll cement their status as the clear frontrunner in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Jaguars will look to rebound against a 2-2 Cowboys team (pending their result on "Sunday Night Football") that has looked offensively inept. That looks like a perfect rebound game for the Jaguars' defense.
Check out our live-blog from the game below.
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