In case you missed it, the Earth stopped spinning for a few minutes Thursday night when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes went down with an apparent knee injury in the second quarter of a 30-6 win at Denver.
Things were looking good for the Chiefs, who were looking to increase their lead on a 4th and 1 play from the Broncos’ five when Mahomes took the snap and snuck it up the middle for the first down. As the pile cleared, it became obvious that something was wrong as the reigning MVP was stuck on top of center Austin Reiter for a lingering amount of time after the whistle.
Mahomes, from the look of it, dislocated his knee and had it relocated before he stood up and – mostly – walked off the field. From there he was X-rayed and immediately ruled out of the game, leaving backup Matt Moore to pilot the offense.
I will not spend much time on how Moore looked because other than a very nice 57-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill, it was not great.
For the first time this season, the Chiefs’ defense made their presence known. I don’t think most of us thought that would happen, especially after the Broncos marched down the field and scored on their first drive. Joe Flacco was finding receivers open in zones and the flags were flying against the Chiefs on a drive that ended with Royce Freeman carrying it in from one yard out.
The only bright spot of their first time on the field was the concentrated and successful effort to stop the running game. Denver managed only 71 yards rushing in the game and that tone was set on that first drive where they picked up just eight yards on the ground.
With all due respect to Flacco, he is not the threatening quarterback the Chiefs have to be concerned about extending plays outside the pocket. It was clear from the beginning, the Chiefs’ defense was set on stopping the run.
Flacco was sacked nine times – Frank Clark Jr., Anthony Hitchens and Alex Okafor each picked up two. Hitchens and Clark also tallied five solo tackles each.
The breakout performance is hard to get behind going forward because the next four weeks will be the toughest of the season with Green Bay, Minnesota, Tennessee and the Chargers looming before the bye week arrives.
Thankfully, there is decent news out the Chiefs’ camp as they announced Friday Mahomes’ MRI came back showing no significant damage to his knee. He will miss time, although it is not clear how much.
Even then, many experts have mentioned injuries of this nature usually require surgery but in the case of Matthew Stafford in 2009, he rehabbed, returned to finish the season – with a brace – and underwent surgery in the offseason leaving that path open to Mahomes and the Chiefs.
At this point, my best-case scenario is Mahomes sits out five weeks until after the bye and returns to face the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 1 before heading to Foxboro for a rematch of the AFC Championship with the Patriots. One thing is for sure, it is Matt Moore’s offense now. Given how important this season is and all of the expectations surrounding it, I don’t think it’s crazy for the Chiefs to look for a more impactful replacement. Assuming Mahomes returns in Week 12, the Chiefs will want to avoid their record dropping to 6-5 or below .500. Ideally, they go 2-2 in those games and are 7-4 when he returns.
One thing that has to happen in the coming weeks is the defense cannot be satisfied about Thursday night’s beatdown. Flacco is not Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Lindsay is not Dalvin Cook and those are just two elite players the Chiefs will face in the coming weeks.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org