While the Kansas City Chiefs' 2017 season didn't finish the way anyone wanted, there were still plenty of moments throughout the year that we're always going to remember.
And over the next few weeks, we're going to take a look at those moments—from fantastic individual performances to dominant stands on one side of the ball.
In this edition, we're taking a look back at the most memorable moments from the season overall.
We will always remember the Week 1 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, as well as the much-anticipated debut of a rookie quarterback in Week 17 at Denver, and plenty of moments in between.
Here's a look at five of the most memorable moments from the Chiefs' 2017 season:
- A Statement Win in Week 1
There was so much fanfare going into the Chiefs' season-opener against the Patriots, and for many reasons.
It was the night the Patriots were going to raise their most-recent Super Bowl banner. There were former Patriots' players everywhere and the pregame production rehearsal, which featured actor Mark Wahlberg—a noted Patriots' fan—took more than an hour to get through before the game.
It was also the opening game of the 2017 NFL season in primetime on Thursday Night Football. That means everyone was watching the Patriots, who were 101-17 at home since 2000 with Tom Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick at head coach, face an upstart Chiefs' team that was ready to prove it could handle that moment.
And the Chiefs handled the moment—beating the Patriots 42-27 in front of the entire world. It's still the most points allowed by the Patriots in any game at home under Belichick—a five-time Super Bowl champion and defensive-minded head coach.
It was also a sign of things to come for rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who finished the game with 248 total yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. That was despite fumbling the first snap of his career, which was also the first play of the game. He responded in a critical moment and showed everyone what he was about that night.
But that wasn't all that was memorable.
There were also a couple of key fourth-down stops by the defense, Alex Smith outplayed a future Hall of Famer, and safety Eric Berry's ability to cover All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski was something people should always remember as well, as was the fact that he was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL late in that game.
Regardless of how the Chiefs' season ended, they showed that night that when they were at their best they could play with anyone.
- Two Weeks Equals Two Wins Over Eventual Conference Champions
It's a positive for some and a frustrating reminder for others, but the fact is the Chiefs beat the two teams that squared-off in the Super Bowl in the first two weeks of the 2017 season.
After the impressive win over the Patriots, the Chiefs followed it up by another impressive win—a 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Arrowhead Stadium.
It was a game that'll most be remembered for Chris Jones' standout performance, Smith's toughness, Kelce's ability to fly and Houston closing the deal.
Jones finished the game with three sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception.
Smith's scramble and subsequent dive on third-and-4 late in the game once again showed that he was never afraid to sacrifice his body for the good of the team. The Chiefs found the end zone just two plays later.
The touchdown, which came courtesy of tight end Travis Kelce, was on an inside shovel pass that Kelce took up the field and then leaped for the end zone, hurdling defenders and making highlight reels in the process.
Finally, it was the second week in a row that linebacker Justin Houston stepped up to seal the deal late in the game.
Just three plays after Eagles' starting quarterback and eventual MVP candidate Carson Wentz scrambled for a first down early in the fourth quarter as the game was tied at 13-13, Houston got his hands on a screen pass that deflected up into the air and into the hands of Jones for the interception, which set up the drive that ultimately led to Smith's scramble and Kelce's touchdown.
On the Eagles' ensuing drive after Kelce's touchdown, Houston sacked Wentz on first down to stall the drive before it even started. The Eagles went three-and-out with less than six minutes remaining in the game.
Wentz, who went just 1-of-7 for minus-3 yards against pressure that night, finished the game 25 of 46 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was sacked six times.* *
- The Rookie Shines Under the Lights
Good performance or bad, the game on the road against the Denver Broncos in Week 17 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 Chiefs in more than 30 years, which is a streak that far too many Chiefs' fans were but all too aware of, and when you take into account that he was also a first-round pick that the Chiefs traded up for—giving up their 2018 first-round pick—there was a little something extra there.
There was intrigue. There was hype. There was a performance to remember.
It doesn't happen all that often that the final result actually lives up to the hype, but in this case, it did, and then some.
Not only did Mahomes show flashes of the playmaking ability that's largely defined his game going back to his days at Texas Tech, where he led the nation in passing in his final season, but he made plays when it mattered the most.
That was the biggest takeaway.
After the Broncos tied it at 24-24 with a little less than three minutes left in the game, Mahomes, who had already been pulled for Tyler Bray, was reinserted at quarterback and asked to try and win the game.
Mahomes led the Chiefs on a game-winning two-minute drive by completing 4 of 5 passes for 52 yards, which was highlighted by a fantastic throw and catch to receiver Demarcus Robinson for a gain of 12 yards on a broken play outside the pocket.
That play was his "wow" moment, and it didn't come in mop-up duty or with the game out of reach, it came when it mattered most.
It's something fans will always remember.
- Another Rookie Steps Up in His Moment in Week 4
Much like Hunt, who fumbled on the first snap of his career only to fight back and eventually lead the NFL in rushing as a rookie, fellow rookie Harrison Butker, who joined the Chiefs just prior to the game against the Redskins after being signed off the Panthers' practice squad, missed the first opportunity of his career—a 46-yarder late in the first half.
But he remained confident.
Chiefs' head coach Andy Reid said after the game that Butker went to him after the miss and said, "Don't worry, I'm good."
Butker nailed his next two field goal attempts, which included a 43-yard game-winner with just eight seconds left that gave the Chiefs the win.
Three rookies—Mahomes, Hunt, and Butker, all stepped up in their NFL debuts in moments we won't soon forget.
- A Franchise Record is Within Reach After Key Win Over Chargers
In Week 15, the Chiefs hosted the Chargers in the first Saturday night regular-season primetime game in the history of Arrowhead Stadium, and a win meant a commanding lead in the AFC West.
The Chiefs were looking to successfully defend their division title for the first time in franchise history.
Early in the third quarter and as they were trailing 10-6, the Chargers took their first second-half possession and marched 88 yards down the field on just six plays as Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates for a 10-yard touchdown.
Just like that, the Chiefs, who had led and controlled the momentum for the entire first half, were put to the test—trailing who many believed was the hottest team in the NFL, 13-10, midway through the third quarter.
And their response was special.
Smith led the Chiefs on a drive that lasted more than seven minutes and covered 69 yards on 12 plays, culminating with a three-yard touchdown from Smith to Hunt.
The Chiefs had to convert four third downs on the drive, which was ultimately the game-winner as the defense stepped up and the Chargers wouldn't score the rest of the day.
The defense was led that day by cornerback Marcus Peters, who had a day to remember following his team-issued one-game suspension. He finished with two interceptions, a forced fumble, and had a phenomenal open-field tackle on Chargers' receiver Travis Benjamin on a key third down late in the game. Overall, he was targeted six times and didn't allow a reception.
The Chiefs would technically clinch the division for the second-straight year the following week in the win over the Dolphins, but it was the victory over the Chargers at a time when many people were doubting them that should be remembered the most.