The Kansas City Chiefs held on to defeat the New York Jets, 23-20, in what turned out to be a grind of a football game on Sunday as the defending Super Bowl champions moved to 3-1 on the season.
Leading by three points and facing a 3rd-and-23 at midfield with just over six minutes remaining in the game, Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled for 25 yards and a fresh set of downs to keep the series alive. Kansas City went on to convert three more third downs on the drive, culminating in a 9-yard scramble by Mahomes on 3rd-and-8 that essentially sealed the victory.
It was a clutch performance by Mahomes, who shook off two first-half interceptions to make numerous plays down the stretch that helped Kansas City win the game.
"I've just learned that you can only control the next play…Nothing in the past matters," Mahomes said. "You keep throwing. You keep putting it out there and [giving] your guys chances. You can't worry about the interceptions that happened in the past. You have to keep fighting, and that's what I believe in."
The Chiefs' final drive – which ate up more than seven minutes of clock and spanned a whopping 15 plays – salvaged a game in which Kansas City started fast but struggled through much of the second and third quarters. In fact, New York fought back from an early 17-point deficit to score 12 unanswered points and later tie the game midway through the third quarter.
Kansas City's defense managed to quell New York's momentum following its game-tying series, however, holding the Jets without points on each of their final three drives. The first of those possessions began at New York's own 47-yard line while the second included a 48-yard run by tailback Breece Hall, but despite repeated difficult circumstances, the Chiefs' defense held firm.
"The biggest thing was [Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] came in the locker room and told us that we still needed to play with the confidence and the trust in one another that we've had throughout this entire season," said linebacker Drue Tranquill. "I think you saw that come out in the second half, and we were able to close the door."
The Chiefs' offense didn't waste the opportunities provided to them, either, as Mahomes engineered a 14-play, 80-yard drive early in the fourth quarter that set up a go-ahead, 26-yard field goal by kicker Harrison Butker.
Jets' quarterback Zach Wilson then fumbled the snap on New York's ensuing drive, and Chiefs' defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton pounced on it. Mahomes then led Kansas City's final, 15-play series that drained the clock and sealed the victory.
Mahomes completed 18-of-30 passes for 203 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the game, but while the contest was a grind at times for the offense, the reigning league MVP consistently emphasized the Chiefs' ability to overcome adversity following the game.
"It's always good when you find ways to win. I think I've found in my years here that you can win pretty, but you have to win ugly, too, to win Super Bowls," Mahomes said. "So, for me, even though I hate it while its happening, I feel like it makes you better in the end if you win games like this when not everything is going perfectly. We did that last year, and we're going to try and do that again this year."
Mahomes' top playmaker on the night was tailback Isiah Pacheco, who rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown while also hauling in three receptions for 43 yards. He tallied a 48-yard touchdown run early in the game, and perhaps even more importantly, the second-year tailback recorded several tough runs on the Chiefs' final series that helped maintain the drive.
"Every time I got in the huddle, I told the offensive line, 'Let's finish.' That was the mindset," Pacheco explained. "We picked up one another and played hard for each other."
In terms of injuries, Head Coach Andy Reid reported that linebacker Cole Christiansen pulled his hamstring. There were no other injuries of note immediately following the game.
The Chiefs will now turn their attention to the Minnesota Vikings for a clash at U.S. Bank Stadium this upcoming Sunday.