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Chiefs defense makes statement to go to 5-0, shuts down Jaguars early

October 8, 2018

Through the first four games of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs won each of their games thanks to their offense and, to a lesser degree, their excellent special teams.

On Sunday, however, the Chiefs’ defense had its best performance of the season in a 30-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kansas City moves to 5-0 for the second straight season and the fourth time since 2003.

The Chiefs forced three second-quarter turnovers — a Chris Jones pick-six, two fumbles and a turnover on downs — and helped take control of the game on a rainy day at Arrowhead Stadium. They also added a fourth-quarter interception to bring the game total to four forced interceptions and fumbles. Last season, the Chiefs’ defense forced three or more turnovers five times, but it was the first time this maligned unit did so in 2018.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense was effective in turning those turnovers into 10 points. But Mahomes (22-of-38 passing, 313 yards) threw his first two interceptions of the season and was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in his six NFL starts. He ran for a score, though, which was the Chiefs’ fifth straight game scoring on their opening drive this season.

On that 10-play, 73-yard drive, Mahomes hit five different receivers — it was the first offensive TD the Jaguars had allowed in a first half all season. That was the most crisp the Chiefs’ offense looked on the day by far. But the Chiefs’ defense, which came into the game ranked dead last in yards and first downs allowed and 25th in points allowed, did most of the heavy lifting early.

Jones intercepted Jaguars QB Blake Bortles on a screen attempt and ran it back for a 20-yard score to give Kansas City a 20-0 lead just before halftime. It was Jones’ first defensive TD in the NFL and his second career pick. It had been since Dec. 4, 2016 when the Chiefs fans back a score for a touchdown (Eric Berry at Atlanta).

It was quite the eventful game overall for Jones, who also had a sack of Bortles and two penalties. His final flag (unnecessary roughness) got Jones ejected for the game for a cheap shot on a Jaguars extra point. Dee Ford also was disqualified from the game after committing a second personal foul while taunting Bortles in the fourth quarter.

But those were only a few negatives on defense on Sunday as several players stepped up. Ford, who hit Bortles three times in the game, notched his fourth sack of the season, which was recovered by rookie Breeland Speaks. Orlando Scandrick broke up four passes in the game, and he had one of the Chiefs’ three interceptions of Bortles inside the Kansas City 1-yard line. Steven Nelson picked him in the end zone right before the half, Jordan Lucas intercepted Bortles near the goal line early in the fourth quarter to seal the game and Scandrick picked off a Hail Mary attempt with four second left.

The Jaguars fell to 3-2. They head to Dallas next week.

This was the performance the Chiefs were looking for defensively prior to a tough stretch prior to the Week 12 bye. Yes, the Jaguars rang up 502 yards of offense and gained 29 first downs. But Kansas City was able to clamp down when needed. They defended the Jaguars’ early deep pass attempts well and forced them into a one-note game plan with Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette out for the game, RB Corey Grant getting hurt in this contest and the Chiefs taking the early lead.

Can this defense have the same results against teams such as the Patriots, Bengals, Rams and other good offenses coming up? That could be the difference between a good Chiefs team and one that could make a run at a Super Bowl.

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