Good performance or bad, the game on Sunday against the Denver Broncos was going to be memorable for a lot of people no matter what happened simply because of what it represented.
In many ways, it was historic.
Patrick Mahomes became the first rookie quarterback to start (and also win) a game for the Kansas City Chiefs in more than 30 years, which is something in and of itself, but when you take into account that he was a first-round pick that the Chiefs traded up for, there was a little something extra there.
And it doesn’t happen all that often that the final result actually lives up to the hype, but in this case, it did.
Not only did Mahomes show flashes of the playmaking ability that’s largely defined him going back to his days at Texas Tech, but he made plays when it mattered the most.
After the Broncos tied it at 24-24 with a little less than three minutes left to go in the game, Mahomes, who had already been pulled for Tyler Bray, was reinserted at quarterback and asked to try and go win the game.
“Albert [Wilson] came up to me and said, “This is what we do. This is what we’ve practiced. Let’s do it,” Mahomes explained of that final drive. “I said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and [Wilson] made a ton plays on that last drive.”
Wilson finished the game with a career-high 10 catches for 147 yards, and Mahomes led the Chiefs on an 11-play, 67-yard drive that culminated with a Harrison Butker game-winning 30-yard field goal as time expired.
Mahomes went 4 for 5 for 52 yards on the final drive, which was highlighted by a fantastic throw and catch to Demarcus Robinson for a gain of 12 yards on a broken play outside the pocket. It was one of a handful of special plays Mahomes made on the day.
“I think I initially looked at the wrong part of the read and ended up having to scramble,” Mahomes explained of the throw to Robinson. “The offensive line gave great protection, gave me time, and then D-Rob worked back to me and I threw him the ball and he made a great play.”
It was one of several great plays on the day for Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense, who got off to a hot start—going 86 yards on five plays and finding the end zone in less than a minute to open up the game.
Mahomes hit tight end Demetrius Harris on a fantastic throw down the seam for a gain of 51 yards on third down on that opening drive. It was a sign of things to come.
On the day, Mahomes went 5 for 7 for 93 yards on third down, including a perfect 3 for 3 in the first half. He did toss an interception on the Chiefs’ second offensive drive on a ball that sailed over his receiver’s head.
“You have to control the excitement,” Mahomes explained after the game. “That’s the biggest thing. At the beginning, I was a little too amped up, and then I kind of settled in there and just really started running the offense and let other guys make plays.”
After the game, Reid said he was proud of his young quarterback.
“We didn’t cut back (the playbook),” Reid explained. “That’s not how we go about it. We challenged him a little bit with that…There are things that he can work on for sure. He’s going to take away this game and be critical of himself.”
When asked what Mahomes’ biggest area of development has been between the preseason—the last time he was on the field, and now, Reid said it’s about his understanding and complete command of the offense.
“Probably the verbiage,” Reid noted. “That’s such a challenge for these kids coming out because everything is done from the sidelines (in college). So, to keep the tempo up of the game and still give yourself enough time at the line to function and get yourself out of a bad situation into a good situation, he did a great job with it. I thought he was spot on with that.
“They threw the house at him those blitzes and he made a couple nice checks and then he just kind of made plays,” Reid added. “Guys were on him and he moved around and made some of those throws. Not many people can make those.”
Mahomes finished the game 22 of 35 for 284 yards and an interception.
“I mentioned this that he’s been blessed to be in that room with Alex [Smith] and Tyler [Bray],” Reid added. “He’s like a sponge in there and takes everything in and then he comes out and he lets his ability show there and played there, but there’s a lot of time and effort that went into that that people don’t see and that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of him for.”
Mahomes, who has credited Smith almost every opportunity he’s been given since joining the Chiefs last Spring, once again spoke about his veteran leader after the game.
“[Smith] helped me the entire game,” Mahomes explained. “Really showing me what he was seeing out there and showing me the things that he was recognizing and giving me tips. You can’t ask for a guy to be in front of you as well as Alex’s been for me.”