Grading the Kansas City Chiefs’ performance in Germany, where they hang on, beat Miami

After a fast start, the Chiefs hung on for a 21-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Frankfurt, Germany.

The defense turned in an excellent effort against the NFL’s top offense, holding Miami scoreless in the first half.

The Chiefs rebounded from their worst game of the season, their loss at Denver last weekend. But there are some issues on offense to resolve.


Pick any defensive player, but let’s go with safety Bryan Cook, who scored his first NFL touchdown on the game’s biggest play: The fumble, recovery and lateral. Cook was credited with a 59-yard fumble return for touchdown, but the play was teamwork at its best (the defensive sequence began with KC corner Trent McDuffie’s ball-jarred-loose hit on Tyreek Hill). Also, had Miami not flubbed its final snap, Cook was there to blow up the play.

Next: The Chiefs are off next week and return for a Monday Night Football encounter with the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 20. The Super Bowl rematch will be broadcast by ESPN.


Passing offense: C

The Chiefs started with a bang as Mahomes completed five passes to five different targets, the final one to rookie wideout Rashee Rice for an 11-yard touchdown.

The second one went to running back Jerick McKinnon with a big assist from Travis Kelce, who cleared the area, taking three defenders with him. The biggest play on the Chiefs’ second drive? A diving 6-yard catch by Rice that meant the Chiefs didn’t have to punt for a third straight time.

Mahomes attempted two deep passes, one to Justin Watson and another to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Neither receiver could get separation, and MVS just dropped a nice pass that would’ve likely gone for a TD.

Also, there was this: On third-and-1 from the 19 with 2 1/2 minutes to play, the Chiefs decide to throw; Kelce isn’t open and Mahomes throws it away. Terrible play-call, as the running game had been producing.

But the defense held to seal the victory.

“We have to find a way to finish games,” Mahomes said of the Chiefs’ offense on NFL Network.

Rushing offense: B

Isiah Pacheco had just eight rushing attempts last weekend in Denver, and the Chiefs said this week that wasn’t enough.

Pacheco had no big gains Sunday, but his pile-moving yards were about all the Chiefs had going on offense in the second half. Pacheco finished with 66, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. La’Mical Perine saw his first attempt of the season.

Passing defense: A

The Chiefs’ first defensive touchdown of the season was a lesson in teamwork. McDuffie had the hit and forced Hill’s fumble, Mike Edwards came up with the recovery — and then Cook was the recipient of a perfect lateral from Edwards.

All of this happened after L’Jarius Sneed was forced to leave the field to get checked for a concussion. He later returned.

The Chiefs played a stellar defensive game against the NFL’s top-ranked offense (in both points and yards). Miami went seven possessions without a TD to start the game. Hill, bidding to become the first NFL player with 2,000 receiving yards in a season, finished with 62.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dialed up timely blitzes and pressures. Turk Wharton, Jaylen Watson and Leo Chanel got the sacks. The Chiefs also logged seven quarterback hurries.

Rushing defense: A

Linebacker Willie Gay Jr., who was questionable with an injury, came up with a huge stop late, and the Chiefs followed that with a sack of Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa. Although Miami RB Raheem Mostert came up with huge runs on successive attempts during the Dolphins’ final drive, the Chiefs played well throughout the game.

Special teams: C

You know punter Tommy Townsend wanted to hit that low-hanging scoreboard at the German soccer stadium.

No big plays by the KC special teams, but maybe it’s time to let punts bounce inside the 10 instead of letting Mecole Hardman fair-catch or return them. He put the offense in a bad spot by catching the Fins’ final punt at the 2 and returning it to the 10.