Since 2018, the blueprint for beating the Kansas City Chiefs is limiting Patrick Mahomes.

That may not be the case anymore, though, after Thursday night’s 27-24 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

This is because on a night where Mahomes threw for just 235 and two touchdowns and the offense as a whole netted 319 total yards, it was the Chiefs defense that stood tall and made the plays needed to not only get back in the game, but win the game, as well.

“Some games like that, where the offense played like that, a lot of times we lose those games,” Mahomes said after the game. “For the defense to keep us around, it’s a big, big step in the right direction.”

Said stand was a stretch of five consecutive series in the second half where the defense forced four punts and a turnover – the turnover being rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson’s go-ahead 99-yard pick-six that gave the Chiefs the lead they never relinquished.

“It was a big play,” All-Pro defensive lineman Chris Jones said of Watson’s pick-six. “For that to happen, that changed the whole dynamic of the game.”

The Chargers offense amassed just 83 total net yards and four first downs throughout the five drives sandwiched between their first drive of the second half and final touchdown during garbage time. The Chiefs defense also recorded a sack and a tackle for loss during this span. That sack was Jones’ third quarter sack that not only pinned the Chargers inside their own 2-yard line, it led to the Chiefs’ subsequent drive starting inside the Chargers 40, which then led to the game-tying 19-yard field goal by Matt Ammendola.

And the secondary, a unit that faced several questions heading into the season and one that was without first-rounder Trent McDuffie, held Justin Herbert to a 59% completion rate that produced just 82 net passing yards and the back-breaking interception that lost the Chargers the game.

It was a clutch performance from a unit that took a lot of heat for the team’s shortcomings last year. And it’s not just the secondary that faced a bunch of questions heading into the year – the entire defense did. All three levels.

The Chiefs looked like a complete team last night, which should terrify the rest of the NFL. They managed to put 27 points on the board, despite it being just the eighth time a Patrick Mahomes-led offense put up less than 320 total net yards.

Kansas City won with offense in Week 1 and with defense in Week 2. This is scary for the rest of the NFL. A complementary -and good- Chiefs defense gives this team an elite balance that will make them nearly impossible to beat.

“That was huge for them [the defense] to keep us in the game … and just give us a chance,” Mahomes told reporters. “I think, with a young defense like that, to see that this early in the season – I think that’s going to carry us the rest of the way.”

And what’s even scarier is players like Jones don’t even view last night’s performance as even B-worthy.

“[I give it] a B-minus,” said Jones. “We can still be better.”

At the same time, however, it only makes the target on the Chiefs’ back that much bigger. This the NFL, where competition and competitors rule all. No one will want to back down – they’ll only want to fight harder when it’s their turn to go up against arguably the best team in the AFC.

So, buckle up. 2022 is shaping up to be a very exciting ride.

Featured image via Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports