On another day of what have been routine days of excellence, a relatively simple play was a highlight for quarterback Patrick Mahomes for showing the versatility the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense possesses.
The Chiefs’ offense is built for all situations, and they had a play ready for a key moment in last week’s 33-28 win over the Ravens.
All those situations, led by one of the NFL’s brightest young stars, will give the Lions their toughest test of the season in Sunday’s game at Ford Field.
Mahomes had done his part a week ago by passing for 358 yards (he added 16 on the clinching play) and three touchdowns when the Chiefs faced a critical third and nine at their 37-yard line with 1:51 left in the game.
What to do? Let Mahomes wing it deep? Drop back and work his magic – again – on a good Ravens’ defense?
All those were solid options, but it was a relatively simple play that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid selected from his call sheet. A screen pass to running back Darrel Williams gained 16 yards and a first down, letting the Chiefs run out the clock and remain unbeaten with a 3-0 record.
It was simple – with a wrinkle – and just one play in the Chiefs’ powerful offensive arsenal that the Lions are preparing to defend this week.
“You can pretty much name it offensively,” said Lions defensive end Trey Flowers. “They’ve got weapons. It’s just one of those offenses that’s definitely unique.”
The Chiefs had worked on the clinching play, Mahomes told reporters after the game. A pump fake to the left caused the Ravens’ defense to pursue in that direction, leaving a lane for Williams to gain first-down yardage.
“We finally called a play we had already prepared for the night before,” Mahomes said. “It shows that detail matters. We talked about that play the night before. We had it prepared. We called it. We succeeded when we got the opportunity to call it.
“We were able to slip out the back door and get him (Williams) the first down.”
Back door, side door, front door – the Chiefs get to the end zone just about any way they want with the array of talent head coach Andy Reid has at his disposal.
They have an All-Pro tight end in Travis Kelce, who’s on his way to another big season with 17 catches in the first three games.
Running back LeSean McCoy, signed after the Bills cut him, leads the Chiefs in rushing with 158 yards and a 5.4-yard per carry average.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, signed last year as a free agent, leads the team with 20 catches for 311 yards and three TDs.
The defense has improved – at least statistically through three games. They’ve given up 395.7 yards and 21.3 points per game compared to 405.5 yards and 26.3 points a year ago for the full 16 games.
But it’s the offense that will take the Chiefs where they want to go. They’re trying to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1969 season, when they beat the Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
They had a close call last year, losing in overtime to the Patriots in the AFC Championship.
In his first year as a full-time starter last season Mahomes passed for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns with a passer rating of 113.8 to lead the Chiefs to a 12-4 won-loss record.
Meet this week's opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs.
He’s even better this year. Through three games he’s passed for 1,195 yards and 10 TDs without an interception. At this pace he’ll pass for 6,373 yards and 53 TDs.
It’s not just the stats that makes Mahomes an elite quarterback. It’s the style. He’ll look one way and throw another, almost like a point guard on a fast break.
“He has a unique ability,” said Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni. “He can get the ball anywhere. He can make all the throws.”
Reid, renowned for developing quarterbacks in his 21 seasons as a head coach with the Eagles and Chiefs and as an offensive assistant before that, won’t compare Mahomes with the previous quarterbacks he coached.
“I’ve been blessed to have some good ones,” Reid said in a conference-call interview. “I hate to ever compare guys. He’ll put his own mark on it when it’s all said and done. He a young guy that works his tail off.
“He tries to get better every day.”