Chiefs safety Bryan Cook excelled as last line of defense in big play against Jets

Nick Wagner/

An under-the-radar moment in the Chiefs’ victory over the New York Jets was the second of Bryan Cook’s two tackles.

It wasn’t a big statistical game for Cook, the second-year safety. And the takedown didn’t come behind the line of scrimmage, nor would it be considered a big hit. And it came after Breece Hall picked up 43 yards.

But without Cook’s last line of defense tackle on the Chiefs’ 42, Hall could have finished with an 85-yard touchdown run and given the Jets a lead late in the fourth quarter.

The Jets celebrated a big play. Turned out, the play proved bigger for the Chiefs, who play at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

“I told him right after, ‘Dude, that’s a big play,’” Chiefs safety Mike Edwards said. “’You saved the game. Look at the scoreboard. The score wouldn’t be what it is right now if it wasn’t for you.’”

A reset: The Chiefs had lost a 17-point lead and the game stood 20-20. The Jets had all the momentum when Hall took a pitch from Zach Wilson, ran through one tackle and had only Cook to beat with a blocker to escort him.

A Hall cut took out the blocker and it was up to Cook to track him down and make the open-field tackle.

“You don’t realize how hard that tackle is, especially against a running back like Breece Hall,” Edwards said.

But the tackle was made. The Jets didn’t pick up another first down and wound up punting, giving the Chiefs the possession that ended in a Harrison Butker field goal that was the difference in a 23-20 victory.

All Cook was considering in the moment was doing everything he could to bring down the ball carrier.

“You’ve got to keep your composure in situations like that,” Cook said. “I wasn’t thinking too much. I was trying to get him on the ground and give the defense another chance.”

It looked like a touchdown once Hall hit open field. He reached the 35 and started to cut toward the middle, and Cook had to change directions by turning around. Finally. Cook caught up, got his hands on Hall and brought him down to end the game’s longest play from scrimmage.

Cook started one game for the Chiefs as a rookie last season. Juan Thronhill’s departure opened the spot Cook occupies, and he’s played more than 95% of the defensive snaps through four games. He was credited with a pass defended against the Jaguars and recovered a fumble against the Lions.

But no play was bigger than the tackle he made against the Jets.

“My focus was, get him to the ground ... and give the defense another chance,” Cook said.

No one knew it in the moment, but that focus flipped the game back to the Chiefs.