These Kansas City Chiefs are imperfect. Through 14 games, they fully know they are imperfect, too.During Sunday’s 27-17 victory over the New England Patriots, the Chiefs further learned to accept their imperfections.
“You have to find ways to put games together,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said from the podium inside Gillette Stadium.Inside the Chiefs’ locker room, pass rusher Chris Jones used just three words to describe the team’s performance.
“It was OK,” Jones said. “We suffered two (consecutive) games, and we’re not used to that. Whatever we want to achieve, we’ve got the group in here to achieve it. We’ve got a lot of good veterans to lead the way and the young guys are eager to get better, eager to listen. We’ll be OK. There’s no panic in here. It’s just a sense of urgency to get better.”
Across the locker room was receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who expressed confidence that Sunday’s win — which was the first leg of a pivotal four-game stretch to end the regular season — can be the start of the Chiefs progressing toward the best version of themselves.
“This is the same group that we had last year that won a Super Bowl and helped Pat win an MVP,” Valdes-Scantling said of the Chiefs’ skill-position players. “I think guys kind of forget that because we lost one guy (receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster). We’ve all got faith that we’ll keep figuring this thing out
By beating the Patriots, the Chiefs averted their first three-game losing streak with Mahomes as their starting quarterback. The victory also kept the Chiefs’ slim hopes of earning the AFC’s top playoff seed — including home-field advantage and a first-round bye — alive. The Chiefs know the only chance they have of achieving that is to sweep their final four opponents, all of which are being led by a backup quarterback.
Before kickoff, Mahomes used his voice to implore his teammates to be the more energetic team. In their previous three games, the Chiefs never led in the first half.We wanted to put the pressure on them,” Mahomes said.
Sunday was the first game in NFL history to feature two head coaches, Andy Reid (Chiefs) and Bill Belichick (Patriots), with at least 250 career regular-season wins. As Reid has done in their past matchups, he unveiled one of his most creative plays of the season with the Chiefs inside the red zone. Everything about the play was unusual, too.
Mahomes didn’t line up in his usual shotgun spot. Instead, he was in a three-point stance next to running back Jerick McKinnon. Mahomes guessed the last time he lined up in a three-point stance was when he ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in 2017.
“That (play) was sweet,” Mahomes said.After receiving the direct snap, McKinnon, a former quarterback at Georgia Southern, then did something that wasn’t designed in the play: He executed a pop pass to rookie receiver Rashee Rice. Although they never tried it in practice the past three weeks, McKinnon told Rice his idea before they entered the huddle.
Rice juggled the misdirection pass behind the line of scrimmage, but then he secured the catch and ran upfield for an easy 4-yard touchdown.