Kareem Hunt Has Record-Breaking Performance in NFL Debut

Posted Sep 9, 2017

It was a night to remember for Hunt

There’s not a running back in NFL history who has ever had a better debut performance than what we saw from Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie running back Kareem Hunt Thursday night against the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs won in convincing fashion, 42-27, and much of their offensive success centered around Hunt, whose 246 yards from scrimmage is the most in NFL history for a rookie in his first NFL game.

Hunt finished with 17 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown, and added five receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the passing game as well.

“The O-Line was making great holes all night,” Hunt said after the game. “I was just being patient and hitting them. Those guys kept it going and still believed in me. They didn’t get down on me or stuff like that. They knew what I could do and I’m proud of how those guys went all night, and I tried to give them the same.”

Throughout the night, Hunt displayed an impressive combination of speed, strength, balance and vision, which was evidenced by the fact that 68 of his 148 yards rushing came after contact, per Pro Football Focus. He also forced six missed tackles.

But it didn’t start off well for Hunt, who actually lost a fumble on the Chiefs’ first offensive play of the game (and his career). Hunt picked up seven yards before the ball was popped loose.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted it to start off,” Hunt said of the fumble. “I pretty much just had to take it play by play (after that). Just forget about it and throw it out the window like it never happened. I was really hurting, but I knew I had to use it as another thing to keep going.”

“A lot of the defensive guys—they were like, ‘We got you, man. We got your back,’” Hunt recalled of what his teammates told him after the fumble. “And those guys made a beautiful (fourth-down) stop. They didn’t get points off of it and I was like, ‘These guys really got my back, so I got to get their back.’

“I had to step up and make plays.”

The defensive stand by the Chiefs took place as the Patriots, who were already holding a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, began on the Chiefs’ 32-yard line after the fumble.

The drive proved to be one of the turning points of the game. Veteran safety Ron Parker made a nice play coming up to make a tackle on Patriots’ receiver Danny Amendola on third down, and the fourth-down rush up the middle was stuffed by Bennie Logan, Eric Berry and company.

After that defensive stand, the offense settled down.

Hunt’s most memorable play on a night he won’t ever forget was probably the 78-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. It gave the Chiefs a 28-27 lead, which proved to be the difference in the game.

“[Smith] made a beautiful pass and I was like, ‘I can’t drop this,’” Hunt explained of the play. “I just knew we had to go get points. We were down and I knew we had to get seven on the board, so I was just running my fastest and hardest.”

Despite a record-breaking performance Thursday night, Hunt didn’t seem satisfied after the game.

“Anybody can do something once,” Hunt explained. “I just want to keep it going and hopefully make a big run with this team. Get the end prize, get to the goal.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid also spoke of Hunt’s performance after the game.

“He’s a load,” Reid said. “He’s talented and he’s a smart kid, which helps at that position because that’s a tough one. You have a lot of things to learn as a rookie coming in. I haven’t had a lot of rookies start for me over the years. [Hunt] can think on his feet and that’s very important when we’re asking you to run the football, but then we’re asking you to pass block, and to run routes and you have to know all the blocking schemes up front and know how the line’s going to handle each front.

“He spent the time learning how to do that. My hat’s off to him.”

Hunt, who was all smiles after the game and got a big ovation from his teammates when he got back into the locker room, said he was just happy to be a part of it.

“I’m just excited that I was able to contribute to a huge win for the guys.”

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