The NFL gambled and moved its match-up of the season to Germany. And it did not disappoint.
While the build-up was dominated by Tyreek Hill facing his former team-mates and the appearance – or otherwise – of pop princess Taylor Swift, the real story was of two juggernauts meeting on a foreign field.
Both teams entered the game on 6-2, with the Dolphins boasting the NFL’s best offence, which averaged 33.9 points per game. The Chiefs were ranked No 4 with 23.4.
Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins in Germany Sunday
Patrick Mahomes found 11 different receivers to shake off last week’s defeat in Denver
Kelce played without the support of girlfriend once again after the pop star enjoyed a girls’ night out in New York City Saturday with Selena Gomez (right) and Brittany Mahomes (left)
Much was made about the Chiefs’ late arrival in Frankfurt, with the Dolphins seemingly having the advantage after landing on Tuesday.
Despite spending little more than 48 hours in the city, quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked lights out to start with, orchestrating a 75-yard opening drive. It was concluded by rookie receiver Rashee Rice shrugging off four flailing tackles for an 11-yard score – the Chiefs’ first this season on their first possession.
The Dolphins were barely able to stay on the field, failing to score on their first three drives for the first time this season as Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo put on a clinic.
‘The fact that they’re so good at all three levels, they’re deep. Guys rotate in. They can play. It’s hard to get everybody snaps, that’s how good they are,’ Mahomes said.
‘It’s got to be the top defense in the NFL. That’s a great offence. To hold them to 14 points where I fumbled in our own area for seven of those points, that’s a tremendous job. I think they’re going to continue to get better because they’re young and they love it.’
Miami’s defense were exhausted by a 13-play, 95-yard drive which took over eight minutes off the clock as the Chiefs stamped their authority.
Rice made an outstanding diving catch on third down – one of only two in the series. The other saw Mahomes finding a wide open Jerick McKinnon with a 19-yard touchdown pass to put Kansas City 14-0 up at the two-minute warning.
But if that was tiring, the Dolphins were shattered shortly after by a strip and score.
Kansas City only arrived in Frankfurt on Friday but they immediately looked at home
Tyreek Hill (left) was kept quiet by his former team, despite bragging before the matchup
Hill snared Tagovailoa’s pass on a screen, but could not avoid the onrushing Trent McDuffie. Mike Edwards recovered the fumble, lateraled the ball to Bryan Cook, then made a key block as his fellow safety rushed 59 yards for a wild score.
‘Defensively, what a first half,’ Chiefs head coach Andy Reid added. ‘What a second half. The fourth quarter was really something, which made a very exciting. The McDuffie strip of Tyreek, punching the ball out, Edwards picking it up, Cook scoring. Doesn’t get any better than that.’
Yet with the score still at 21-0, there was suddenly a glimmer of hope for Miami midway through the third quarter. Cedrick Wilson Jr outjumped McDuffie to snare Tua Tagovailoa’s 31-yard pass.
Not for the first time, Mahomes – who threw for 185 yards and two scores – looked rattled. Bradley Chubb rushed straight through the middle for a strip sack, Zach Sieler making the recovery deep in Chiefs territory. It was the fourth consecutive game with a sack for Chubb, who breathed life into the stadium.
Aided by a costly penalty by Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones – his shove on Miami tackle Austin Jackson negated a third down stop – Mostert rushed for a 31-yard score, only the third rushing touchdown Chiefs had conceded this season.
Game on. And it went to the wire. With a little over a minute on the clock on fourth and 10, Miami were on Kansas City’s 31-yard line.
Star tight end Kelce was restricted to only seven yards off three receptions by the Do’phins
With the possibility of overtime – or even a two-point conversion in offing – the 50,023 crowd reached fever-pitch. But Tagovailoa fumbled Connor Williams’ poor snap and the crowd were denied their dream finale.
‘I’m always going to blame myself,’ Tagovailoa said. ‘I’ve got to catch the ball. Whether that’s getting in a better position to catch it or whatever it is, can’t end the game like that when we have an opportunity like that against a really good team.’
‘I was very, very proud of the resolve,’ added Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel. ‘I’m very encouraged about the team.
‘Just to be in that position on that final drive takes a lot of – there was a lot of expectations not met in the first half, and for those guys to – for the defense to shut them out in the second half and only allow 14 points and for us to be in that situation with one minute to go, I think that’s the bigger picture from the players’ perspective.’