KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs came into this Week 2 match up against a team they’ve beat 11 of the last 12 times, but this one was different, and not just because of the new stadium.
“Playing in a stadium with no fans, I will say, is like the weirdest thing ever. It’s almost like a scrimmage, you know, and it kind of felt weird for me at first,” Tyreek Hill said.
He wasn’t the only one that felt weird after one half. Patrick Mahomes had thrown for 60 yards, his lowest total in one half in his career.
“Early in the game, especially the 1st quarter, I just think I just wasn’t playing up to par,” Mahomes said. “There was stuff there, we had throws there, but I just wasn’t making the right read, or I was making bad throws.”
You could say the same for the defense too.
“Defensively, we got to keep working on our tackling. These are early season things that you see. You know we got to do better there,” coach Andy Reid said.
But Chiefs have been in a comeback position before. Facing a rookie quarterback who showed some real moxie in Justin Herbert and a defensive front that was forcing Mahomes to rush passes, adjustments needed to be made.
“Pat, he sat the whole offense down and had a talk and was like, ‘Hey guys, we got to step up and make a play. Who’s it going to be?’ We kind of lean on each other to make plays and that’s how it is on this team. That’s what changed it,” Hill said.
And Mahomes made plays. A clutch 54 yard pass to Tyreek Hill for a touchdown, an awkward angle throw to Mecole Hardman for the 2 point conversion and then after Taco Chalton made a big tackle on 3rd down to keep L.A. to a field goal, then Mahomes used his legs on a crucial 3rd and 20 conversion.
“When it’s on the line, he wants the ball. He doesn’t shy away from that. He wants it, and he’s got guys around him that want it,” Reid said.
“They’re playing coverage, they were getting depth, and the offensive line was giving me time, but we couldn’t find ways to get open,” Mahomes said. “The thing about them playing coverage and playing so deep is that they don’t have a guy for me, and so I’ll be able to run and get some yards down field.”
Now they just needed to tie a kicker in the clutch. Harrison Butker was the guy to do it, even if it took four kicks to make two to win the game.
“I definitely felt more confident. The 53 yarder, I didn’t like the way it curved left,” Butker said. “We aimed right for the 58 yarder, but it was a longer kick. I swung a little harder on that one. And then for that last kick, I had the same aiming point, and I just slowed down my leg swing a little bit and hit a better rotating ball.”
“I had 100% confidence in Butker every time he’s on the field,” Mahomes said.
Notably though, a win is a win, with much to improve upon for next week against Baltimore — lessons learned to take forward.
“It means a lot — obviously we didn’t play the way we wanted to play — but to find a way to win,” Mahomes said. “When you get to the playoffs and later in the season, just try to make these runs. Not every game is going to be a blowout, not every game you’re going to be winning the entire game. There’s going to be difficult situations, there’s good football players all across this league. So, we have to find a way to win no matter what adversity hits us.”