To put in perspective the standard Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has created for himself, consider his reaction to his three-touchdown, 328-yard performance Sunday in a win over the Broncos. It was a combination of “eh” and “nah.” And, keep in mind, Mahomes began the game by completing 13 straight passes. But he wasn’t satisfied.
“I feel like my feet got bad in the second half,” Mahomes said. “Then I missed the deep throws whenever they were there, and so when you’re playing a defense like this, whenever they give you opportunities, you have to execute on them, and I didn’t.”
Talk about a scary proposition for the rest of the NFL. As good as Mahomes is — and coming off a game so many other quarterbacks would celebrate — he treated it like a loss. In his defense — whether or not it’s needed — Mahomes appeared to hurt his knee after attempting a first-half jump pass. That could have attributed to a second half that didn’t meet his lofty standards.
Not that Mahomes, who leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 40, entertained the thought of blaming an injury on his performance. “I don’t know if it impacted it at all,” he said. “I lost my mechanics in that second half, and I was trying to find a way to get back into them. On some of the incompletions, I felt like my feet weren’t in the right spot and I was kind of throwing off my back foot. Whenever I get in that mode is when I can struggle. I have to be better at kind of correcting that stuff in-game.”
Hence his lukewarm reaction, even after a victory that kept alive the Chiefs’ hopes of securing the top seed in the AFC playoffs. They are 13-3 entering Saturday’s game against the Raiders (6-10) at Allegiant Stadium.
“There’s not a lot that’s satisfying for me,” Mahomes said. “I have to be better at putting the ball on them (receivers) in good spots. I feel like I didn’t play at the top of my game and that the guys around me stepped up. That’s the best thing I took from it — I’m not always going to have my best stuff, and when the guys around me step up and we can still win football games, it’s a good sign.”
The standard obviously is pretty high in Kansas City. And even after trading star receiver Tyreek Hill in the offseason, the Chiefs are a legitimate contender to reach the Super Bowl. Not to say everything is perfect. The Chiefs, who lead the NFL in scoring at 29.1 points per game, have had a tendency to play to the level of their opponent.
That might have happened in their first meeting against the Raiders when Kansas City rallied for a 30-29 victory. That said, Mahomes continues to do his thing, racking up 5,377 combined passing and rushing yards this season, the fourth-highest total in NFL history. He is 186 yards from setting the league record.
Doing so would come at the expense of the Raiders, though the Chiefs are well aware of the challenge quarterback Jarrett Stidham presents after watching him shred the 49ers on Sunday in his first NFL start.
“He’s a really good quarterback,” Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill said. “We see him as a gunslinger. The guy — he’s super confident. You would think that since he was a backup, he’ll come in and be a little shaky. But I watched the game, and he stepped up and played a heck of a game.”