Chiefs’ Mahomes continues to evolve as an NFL quarterback
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs faced a crucial third-and-long with just under two minutes to go, clinging to a 33-28 lead over the Baltimore Ravens and hoping to put the game away.
Patrick Mahomes dropped back to pass, looked left and lured the entire defense that direction, then flicked the ball the other direction. Backup running back Darrel Williams had slipped out the back side and was open, taking the screen pass for a first down and clinching the Chiefs’ 3-0 start.
It wasn’t Andy Reid’s call, though. Or a brilliant move by offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
“That was Pat’s play,” Reid said. “He has the whole game plan and Saturday night we go through it and we hit those type of situations — ‘What would you like?’ — and we ask each quarterback what they would like if it was this situation. So, it’s a four-minute situation, third-and-10, and so that was his play for that situation, but that was already in the game plan.”
The ability of Mahomes to recognize what the Ravens were doing on defense, digest the magnitude of the situation and make the right call represents another step in his development.
He doesn’t just take the call from the sideline anymore. He understands why the calls are made, why they are designed the way they are, and what situations are best to use them.
“It’s actually a pretty cool story,” said Mahomes, the reigning league MVP, who threw for 374 yards and three TDs against the Ravens. “It just shows that every detail matters. We talked about that play the night before and you think people would let that go after not calling it for a couple years now, but we had it prepared, we called it and we succeeded.”
That’s not all that went into such a seemingly simple play.
“We set it up last week (against Oakland) by running the little pump-pass out there and so we knew, especially with the Ravens — they had a good veteran group of guys — they saw the formation and thought we were going that way,” Mahomes explained, “and we were kind of able to slip out the back.”
The passing offense. The rushing offense. Special teams. Heck, even the defense is playing pretty well, holding the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson in check most of the way Sunday. A good chunk of his numbers came in the fourth quarter, when he was trying to rally Baltimore from a 30-13 hole.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Chiefs’ suspect secondary fared well against the Ravens, leaving the defensive line as the only group that underwhelmed. Mark Ingram eclipsed 100 yards rushing and scored three TDs, and more than once the Kansas City defensive ends lost containment and Jackson was able to get loose.
“When you’re looking at a guy who got all the comparisons to the best running quarterbacks of our time and the past, it’s very hard,” the Chiefs’ Frank Clark said. “He gave us all he could do and we found a way as a defense. Our offense kept putting up points, kept doing what they had to do. Pat had another amazing day and we’re just playing great team football right now.”
Rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman hauled in an 83-yard touchdown reception, had another nice grab and even made the fair catch on the dropkick in the closing minutes that helped the Chiefs put away the game. It was the first time Hardman has flashed his game-breaking potential.
Another rookie, Darwin Thompson, did little with the chances he got at running back. The Chiefs instead leaned on Williams to back up LeSean McCoy with starter Damien Williams out with a knee injury.
McCoy aggravated his sore ankle late in the game, but otherwise the Chiefs came out of Week 3 in good shape. Williams, wide receiver Tyreek Hill (collarbone) and left tackle Eric Fisher (groin) keep improving and should be back at some point this season.
210: That’s the number of wins Reid has in his coaching career, breaking a tie with Chuck Noll for sixth most in NFL history. The Patriots’ Bill Belichick (295) is the only other active coach with at least 200. Next on the list is the Packers’ Curly Lambeau with 229.
The Chiefs hit the road for the third time in their first four games when they head to Detroit on Sunday. After that come three prime-time games in the following four weeks.