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Beyond the Surface: 10 Observations from Chiefs vs. Steelers

The memorable moments, top performers, and key takeaways from Chiefs-Steelers on Sunday afternoon, presented by Microsoft Surface

The Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field by a score of 42-37.

It's the first win for the Chiefs on the road in Pittsburgh since 1986.

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. Patrick Mahomes has a day, sets NFL record

The Patrick Mahomes' hype train is going to another level after Sunday's performance.

In just his third NFL start (second as QB1), Mahomes actually set an NFL record by throwing 10 touchdowns in the first two games of a season.

Mahomes finished Sunday's game 23 of 28 for 326 yards and six touchdowns. He had more touchdown passes than incompletions.

Here are some nuggets on the start to his season:

  • Mahomes threw three touchdowns to three different people in the first quarter (Chris Conley, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt)
  • Overall, he's thrown 10 touchdowns to seven different people so far this year. The Chiefs had seven different guys catch touchdowns all of last season.
  • After the Steelers put up 21 unanswered points to begin the second half, Mahomes answered with back with three-straight touchdown drives, which totaled 210 total yards and was good for an average of 12.7 yards per play.
  • The six touchdown passes from Mahomes ties the most the Steelers' defense had ever given up in a game (Buffalo, 1991).

Lastly, perhaps the most impressive part of Mahomes' performance on Sunday was the fact that did didn't just put up some ridiculous numbers, he answered back when the Steelers threw a punch.

After the game, Chiefs' coach Andy Reid said Mahomes was the guy in the locker room staying positive and encouraging the guys during halftime, and he came out on fire in the second half to lead the Chiefs.

Mahomes' other touchdowns on the day went to Demarcus Robinson and Tyreek Hill.

It's impressive for a guy who turns 23 years old on Monday.

2. It was a good start for the Chiefs on all three phases

The Steelers began the game with the ball and the Chiefs' defense forced them to quick a three-and-out.

Then, the Steelers tried to punt it away from Tyreek Hill, which they did, but De'Anthony Thomas, who had initially lined up outside on the gunner but dropped before the ball was punted, was standing near the sideline where they had expected the Steelers to kick the ball away from Hill.

Thomas caught the ball inches from the sideline and then ran 55 yards down the field to give the Chiefs phenomenal field position on their first offensive possession.

Just two plays later, Patrick Mahomes found Chris Conley in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.

In less than two minutes to begin the game, the Chiefs had found success in all three phases.

3. Travis Kelce found the end zone for the first time this season

On the Chiefs' second offensive possession, which followed up another three-and-out forced by the defense, Mahomes threw a bullet across the middle to tight end Travis Kelce for another touchdown. This one was from 19 yards out. 

Less than six minutes into the game, the Chiefs had jumped out to a 14-0 lead.

On the Chiefs' next offensive possession after the touchdown to Kelce, Mahomes would find the end zone again—this time to running back Kareem Hunt on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line.

Hunt caught the short pass in the flat and then fought off a tackle to muscle his way into the end zone.

The Chiefs had raced out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Kelce finished the game with seven receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

4. Steelers fought back after a tough start

The Chiefs raced out to a fast lead in the first quarter, but the second quarter belonged to the Steelers, who scored 21 unanswered points to tie the game before halftime.

Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 24 of 35 for 278 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.

The Steelers' second-year running back James Conner, who had run the ball more than anyone else in the league after one week (31 carries, 135 yards, 2 TDs vs. Browns), had just three carries for three yards in the first half.

Tight end Jesse James had four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the first half, while JuJu Smith-Schuster chipped in with seven catches for 71 yards and a score as well.

5. Sammy Watkins got involved early

It was a good start to the game for receiver Sammy Watkins, who had four catches for 71 yards and one carry for 31 yards in the first half. He continued that playmaking in the second half, finishing the game with six catches for 100 yards.

Last week against the Chargers, Watkins finished with three receptions for 21 yards.

6. Allen Bailey picked up a key sack

With the way the offense was playing, the Chiefs needed just a couple of stops by the defense in the second half to pull out the win on Sunday. 

With the help of Allen Bailey's sack and subsequent loss of 10 yards on the play, the defense provided at least one stop that proved crucial late in the game.

On second down and with the Chiefs holding onto a 42-30 lead, Bailey bull-rushed the Steelers' Ramon Foster right into Roethlisberger's face, and with just over 10 minutes left in the game, the Steelers then faced a third-and-25, which they didn't convert and were forced to punt it back to the Chiefs.

After a couple of first downs on the Chiefs' ensuing possession, Steelers' defensive lineman Cam Heyward raced over and forced the fumble of Chris Conley right in front of the Chiefs' sideline on a pass out to the left.

Roethisberger, who fell to 75-25 in his career at Heinz Field, is 18-0 in his career when he's not sacked in a game. Bailey's sack was exactly what was needed at the time.

7. Chiefs had two 100-yard receivers for the first time in a while

With both Kelce and Watkins getting at least 100 yards, it marked the first time since 2006 that the Chiefs had two receivers hit at least 100 yards in a game.

Chiefs at Steelers on September 16, 2018

8. The Steelers didn't run the ball much

After giving it to second-year running back James Conner 31 times last week, which was the most for any player in the league, the Steelers all-but-abandoned the run on Sunday against the Chiefs. Conner finished the game with eight carries for 17 yards and a touchdown.

Conversely, the Steelers may have run the ball just 13 times, but Roethlisberger had 60 passing attempts.

Chiefs at Steelers on September 16, 2018

9. Anthony Hitchens led the Chiefs in tackles again this week

After accumulating 15 tackles last week, which was the highest-mark in the league after one week, Hitchens followed it up again this week by amassing 12 tackles on Sunday against the Steelers.

Just like he did against the Chargers, Hitchens flashed some speed and impressive down-hill ability on a handful of occasions, which was just enough to help the Chiefs to this win.

10. Only two players on postgame injury report

After the game, Chiefs' coach Andy Reid said that only cornerback Steven Nelson (cramps) and linebacker Reggie Ragland (stinger) were injured during Sunday's game, and neither are considered serious.

Photos from Chiefs at Steelers game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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