One of Patrick Mahomes’ worst performances during the early portion of a grueling schedule was the first half of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 6 Sunday Night Football game playing in New England against the Patriots.
Saying Mahomes had a bad performance, even for a half, has been rare in 2018, but there was no doubt Mahomes came out against the Patriots a little overhyped. On the opening drive, Mahomes missed Kareem Hunt for a wide open touchdown, a play that we realized later may have made a difference in a game decided by just three points.
The 23-year-old Mahomes admitted he may have been a little pumped up entering the game.
“Maybe a little bit,” he said the Wednesday after the game. “I think I just missed the throws in general. On Kareem I kind of got the in between, trying to laser throw it and trying to put some arc on it let it be an easy pass. With Tyreek (Hill)’s, he took a good angle and I just overshot it. Those things happen when you play this position. You try to minimize those as much as possible, but when you’re playing good teams like we did last week those can come back to haunt you.”
Fast forward to this week, as his 9-1 Chiefs prepare to face the also-9-1 Los Angeles Rams, and Mahomes can look back to his three total primetime games earlier this season.
“I got to play the Monday Night (Football) game at the Broncos and then the Sunday Night (Football) game with New England, I’ve learned from those,” he said. “Then we got to play the Bengals at home just being able to learn from those experiences, just being able to control your emotions when you start the game. Don’t try to do too much, that’s the biggest thing about this whole season. You just try to get it into all the playmakers that we have hands and let them make all the plays.”
Against the Bengals on Sunday Night Football, Mahomes finished 28 of 39 for 358 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception.
The Chiefs won 45-10 and Mahomes looked fantastic. He said he’s learned the key in national primetime situations is to stay “within” his self.
“I think the more experience that you have playing in the big-time games you start figuring that out,” he said. “I feel like this Bengals game was good for me, just being able to go out there and be comfortable within the offense and be able to do what I’ve done all season long.”
One of Mahomes’ receivers on offense in Chris Conley mirrored those thoughts.
“I think that every time Pat’s stepped on the field he’s gotten better,” Conley said. “Even in that first primetime game, he was a little bit hyped up and had some errant throws—he still played extremely well.
“He set a really high bar for himself, he’s set a really high bar for young quarterbacks and I just expect him to continue improving.”
Entering Monday night’s games against the Rams, Mahomes is 79 for 120 for nine touchdowns, three interceptions and a 106.7 passer rating in three games at night. He also has nine rushing attempts for 61 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“I think it helps to have those games early, but I think it also helps the people who surround a young quarterback,” Conley added. “He’s had a lot of help from the vets in this locker room. He had help last year from being behind a vet (Alex Smith). He’s had help from the coaching staff.
“I think he’s been put in a situation where he can glean a lot from a lot from a lot of people and he’s done a really good job of putting in the extra time.”
Mahomes will take on his biggest challenge yet on Monday night.