Miami Dolphins 14-21 Kansas City Chiefs: Super Bowl champions hold off fightback to win thriller in Frankfurt

Here are four significant observations from the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 9 game against the Miami Dolphins, taking place in Germany.

The Week 9 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins didn’t start as the expected thriller, but it grew increasingly exciting as it unfolded.

The Chiefs, playing as the “home” team, built a commanding 21-point lead by halftime, thanks to an impressive opening drive and outstanding defensive plays. However, Miami staged a comeback by scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter, making the game much tighter as it headed into the final quarter.

In the game’s closing moments, the Dolphins made a strong effort to challenge the Chiefs but ultimately fell short. The result was a 21-14 victory for Andy Reid’s squad, which improved their record to 7-2 for the year.

Here are four key takeaways from Sunday’s game.

The Chiefs’ defensive performance is of championship quality:

As Week 9 commenced, the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense had garnered widespread recognition as one of the top five to ten defensive units in the entire NFL. It boasted impressive statistics, ranking among the league’s elite in points allowed per game and per drive, holding the fifth position in EPA allowed per play, and standing fourth in overall success rate. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo reaped the benefits of continuity, depth, and youthful talent during the offseason and training camp, and these strengths were evident throughout the season.

In the game against the Miami Dolphins, the Chiefs’ defense faced a formidable challenge and passed it with flying colors. They managed to shut out their opponents in the first half, limiting the Dolphins to a mere 4.4 yards per play and 110 total net yards gained. Miami struggled on third downs, going 0-for-5 and failing to generate any meaningful momentum. Despite a few isolated big-play incidents in the second half, the defense effectively secured the victory, even when the offense faced its own challenges.

In a high-stakes, playoff-style environment, the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense once again rose to the occasion. There’s no longer a need for a waiting period; Spagnuolo’s defensive unit has proven itself to be championship-caliber.

The in-game struggles persist and show no signs of going away:

The Kansas City Chiefs’ offense has encountered numerous issues throughout this season. Players and coaches have taken responsibility for these problems, while media and fans have raised potential causes, including personnel issues, poor execution, and lackluster decision-making. While the opening drive and a remarkable 95-yard scoring drive in the second quarter showcased some positive aspects, the Chiefs’ offensive performance faltered in the later stages of the game.

Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 147 yards in the first half, struggled in the second half, managing just 38 yards on 11 attempts. The team’s second-half performance saw them averaging a mere three yards per play, punting three times, and turning the ball over once. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to downplay these offensive slumps, even though the Chiefs have a strong defense. While the defense is exceptional, the offensive struggles reflect a suboptimal process. A more efficient and consistent offense would propel Kansas City from being very good or great to an elite team once again.

Tyreek Hill didn’t deliver a standout performance for the Chiefs:

Despite the game happening in Germany, the real story of the week was the showdown between Tyreek Hill and his former team, the Chiefs. It was their first face-off since Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins in March 2022 in a major deal. Earlier in the week, Hill confidently claimed that his old team would struggle when facing him, and the Chiefs responded with some playful banter mixed with respect.

However, even with lots of help from shifting positions before the snap and many chances from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Hill didn’t have a big impact on Sunday. He caught eight passes but only gained 62 yards, as the Chiefs’ defense disrupted his performance effectively. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed stayed close and got physical with Hill near the line of scrimmage, and his teammate Trent McDuffie even managed to force a fumble from Hill, which turned out to be crucial in deciding the game.

It wasn’t the revenge game that some had anticipated, leaving Hill with plenty to think about before a possible rematch between the Chiefs and the Dolphins, whether it’s in the playoffs or another matchup down the road.

Kansas City delivered a clear message to the rest of the AFC:

The Kansas City Chiefs entered Sunday’s game tied with the Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, and Jacksonville Jaguars at the top of the AFC standings. However, the Chiefs held the tiebreaker for the conference’s top seed and maintained that position with a victory over Miami. This win ensures that the Chiefs remain in control of their destiny within the AFC moving forward, and it sends a strong message to their competitors: they are still a top-tier team.

In recent weeks, the Chiefs’ offense has struggled compared to the high expectations, while the defense has carried the team to some wins. Many have been curious about how the Chiefs would fare against top-tier opponents. In Week 9, the offense managed to put together several impressive drives (though admittedly a low bar to clear), and they also delivered one of the league’s most impressive defensive performances in the second half. The Miami Dolphins are known for their explosive and star-studded roster, and the Chiefs managed to handle them, despite a scare in the second half. This game had the intensity of a playoff contest, and Kansas City secured a win by any means necessary, potentially foreshadowing their playoff success.

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