The Kansas City Chiefs’ offense doesn’t look like its usual self.
And yet the team is still 1-1 after Sunday’s 17-9 road victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The defense gets the game ball.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes — on his 28th birthday — labored along with the rest of the offense for the majority of a sunny and sweaty afternoon in north Florida.
Yet the return of pass rusher Chris Jones following a holdout, along with the standout play of his defensive teammates, was the deciding factor while holding down a typically dangerous Jaguars offense.
Jacksonville punted five times in its 11 possessions. The Chiefs also had two critical fourth-down stops, held the Jaguars to a field goal when they started at the KC 17 and recovered a second-quarter fumble that was needed following some early giveaway woes by the offense.
The Chiefs’ start was ugly.
Richie James muffed a second-quarter punt, which set up a short Jacksonville field goal. Justin Watson followed with a fumble when Jacksonville’s Darious Williams punched the ball out after a reception, and the next possession, Mahomes heaved up a deep interception to Andre Cisco as the Chiefs committed their third turnover of the quarter.
KC’s defense, meanwhile, held strong.
In his first game back following a holdout, Jones came through with one of the biggest game-shifting plays, sacking Trevor Lawrence on a fourth-and-5 to give the Chiefs the ball back at midfield.
Mahomes cashed in that opportunity, finishing the possession with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Skyy Moore as KC took its first lead at 7-3.
Travis Kelce — in his return following a hyperextended knee injury — linked up with Mahomes for a 9-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Getting to 17 points midway through the fourth quarter might not have been good enough for the Chiefs last season, but the defense made it work here.
On the Jaguars’ final drive, Jones came through again on third-and-10 at the Chiefs’ 16, getting to Lawrence on a pressure to force a backward throw that rolled out of bounce for a two-yard loss.
The next play, Jacksonville’s Calvin Ridley couldn’t keep his feet inbounds on the back line of the end zone for a potential touchdown reception, as L’Jarius Sneed and Mike Edwards ushered him out for the turnover on downs.
Mahomes saved some magic for late on a third-and-6, stopping to evade a pass rusher before finding Moore deep downfield for a 54-yard gain.
Isiah Pacheco added one more first down on the final drive to officially run out the clock.
The Chiefs will host the Chicago Bears at 3:25 p.m. Central on Sunday, Sept. 24.