There was no breaking down Super Bowl film in the immediate aftermath of the Chiefs’ victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in February.
And to cornerback Trent McDuffie, not reviewing the tape right away was a good thing. The Chiefs surrendered 35 points and 304 passing yards to Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo celebrated with the rest of the Chiefs after that game. But in recent days — with the NFL’s two best teams preparing to meet on Monday Night Football at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium — he took his defensive players to school on that day’s deficiencies.
“That was the first thing Coach Spags talked about when we turned on the field this past Monday,” McDuffie said. “Even though we won, the defense didn’t show like we wanted to. A big part of this week is making sure we show what Chiefs defense is all about, and going out there and proving it.”
The Chiefs’ defense has been about improvement this season. A year ago, they finished 11th in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed.
Entering the NFL’s Week 11 games, the Chiefs ranked fourth in yards allowed and were tied with the San Francisco 49ers for fewest points allowed.
McDuffie, a first-round draft pick in 2022, has made major contributions to the effort. His four forced fumbles are tied with Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb for most in the league, and McDuffie’s most recent big play started a TD return in the victory over the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Chiefs’ big challenge Monday, as it was in the Super Bowl, is to match up against two of the league’s top wide receivers, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. They’ve combined for 109 receptions and 10 touchdowns this fall.
McDuffie will be the primary defender on one of those Philly wideouts, L’Jarius Sneed on the other.
“Two really good cats who can go up and get the ball,” McDuffie said. “Jalen Hurts is going to get ‘em the ball. But we get excited for games like this, as you can see from the past few games.”
The Chiefs were superb in limiting the Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to a combined 11 catches for 104 yards. Two weeks earlier, the Chiefs held Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen to four receptions on nine targets.
Next up is the team with the NFL’s third-ranked scoring offense.
“Every game is a ‘prove it’ game for us,” McDuffie said. “This will be a big challenge. We’re ready for it.”