Khalen Saunders did not exactly fill the stat sheet in Week 7 but made a positive impact as the Kansas City Chiefs throttled the Denver Broncos.
There was plenty of doom and gloom surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday despite their dominant 30-6 win over AFC West rivals the Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs moved to 5-2 with the lop-sided victory but the headlines were dominated by Patrick Mahomes’ knee injury and, as such, plenty of impressive performances were overshadowed.
One such display was that of third-round rookie defensive tackle Khalen Saunders, who played a key role in the Chiefs’ holding a Broncos rushing attack expected to excel to just 80 rushing yards with his play at the point of attack.
Saunders finished the game with only two tackles in 27 defensive snaps. However, as NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger pointed out on Twitter, Denver’s struggled to move Saunders off the ball in the run game, most notably on a stuffed two-point conversion attempt after the Broncos’ sole touchdown.
After giving up over 100 yards rushing in three of their first four games, the Chiefs have kept the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Broncos under three figures. Their improvement in stopping the ground game has coincided with Saunders’ first playing time of the season, the former Western Illinois defender having not appeared in any games before the Week 5 loss to the Colts.
Saunders is of course not the sole contributor to this upturn against the run from the Kansas City defense, which will be sternly tested by the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings in the next two games.
Still, if he continues to perform in the manner he did in Denver, then the man who went viral at the Senior Bowl for his backflips following the birth of his daughter could have Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo jumping for joy.