The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 27-24, in overtime on Sunday. Patrick Mahomes’ last-minute fourth-and-9 pass to Tyreek Hill that gained 48 yards certainly got a lot of attention — as did another one three plays later: the five-yard touchdown pass to Damien Williams on fourth-and-3 that tied the game.
Some have already compared the latter — not surprisingly or incorrectly — to Joe Montana’s pass to Willie Davis against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium on October 17, 1994. That pass — also for five yards to the right pylon in the final moments of the game — concluded an amazing 81-second drive that gave the Montana and the Chiefs a 31-28 victory against space alien John Elway before a national Monday Night Football audience. It was the Chiefs’ first win in Mile High since 1982 and gave Chiefs head coach Marty Shottenheimer his first career win on the road against Denver — for either Kansas City or Cleveland — after seven straight losses.
But we’re here to talk about another pass that Mahomes threw against the Ravens on Sunday. It happened just before the end of the second quarter. It wasn’t particularly dramatic, and in many ways, it was pretty routine: on second-and-1 from the Chiefs 28-yard line, Mahomes hit Demarcus Robinson with a short pass on the left that gained 17 yards.
You may already know this play by another name: the No-Look Pass.
Although there were plenty of questions about the two passes at the end of regulation, not a single reporter asked about this play when Mahomes spoke to the media on Sunday afternoon. There’s a simple reason: like many who were in the stands, they might not have noticed what happened. Unlike the fans in the stands, reporters also get to watch the TV feed. Even then, most probably didn’t notice, because the audio feed for the TV broadcast isn’t available in the press box.
But those watching at home noticed it on replay — thanks to CBS color commentator Tony Romo. “Look at the magic of the quarterback — just calm, moving around, dancing — and then throws it,” marveled Romo. “It’s like... almost no look. I mean... that’s incredible.” Jim Nantz chimed in. “No-look sidearm.” Romo then realized what he’d just seen. “Oh my gosh! How do you not like watching him play?”
The camera angle from behind the Chiefs offense had revealed something that wasn’t clear from the 50-yard line camera: Mahomes hadn’t even looked at Robinson. It’s even more obvious from another angle — this one taken from the sideline by KMBC-TV photographer Cliff Irwin.
But Mahomes’ no-look pass quickly became a thing on the Internet, and by Monday morning, reporters had a whole list of questions to ask about it. And Mahomes talked about it like it was some kind of routine thing.
“It’s something that happens,” said Mahomes. “I’ve just kind of started doing that as I got into the last years of my college career, but I was looking and I saw D-Rob about to come open and I needed to move the safety over to the right, so I just trusted [he] was going to be there and I put it out there. He made a great play on it.”
Mahomes said that the whole thing started as a bit of a lark in college.
“Me and my buddy Nic Shimonek—he was the backup quarterback for me, we started doing it in practice and messing around with it,” he explained. “It was almost like who could one-up each other. It just kind of carried on from then. I realized it was a tool I could actually use in games.”
Mahomes said that while it started in college, he never actually tried one in a game until he was in the NFL. In... you know... his first start.
“I don’t know if I can remember [when I threw one the first time],” he said. “It might have been the Denver game, honestly. I never really did it in college in a game. I did it in practice a lot, but the Denver game last year was probably the first time I threw one in the game.”
But completing a no-look pass requires chemistry with the receiver... right?
“Yeah, and I have built that chemistry with guys like D-Rob through training camp and through last year,” Mahomes said. “I know that the guys are going to know what I’m thinking, and trust that they are going to keep running the route the same way. Then I put the ball out there for them.”
Yeah... no big deal. Just put it out there for them. OK. But has anything bad happened?
“I haven’t thrown an interception [on a no-look pass] yet. Hopefully, I won’t. I think I tried to throw one earlier in the season — I think it was Tyreek Hill — and he stopped running because he thought I was going to throw it back to the right. You have to have that chemistry in knowing and trusting he’s going to run his route the same way.”
Bad Tyreek. Bad! You have to remember that Patrick might not even look at you before throwing. But Mahomes said he loves doing it — even if his receivers don’t always help him out.
“I enjoy it a lot,” he said. “It’s something safeties and guys like that aren’t usually used to. I have talked to guys like Eric Berry and stuff about that. You learn from every experience you have on this field, and you try to give every different look you can for defenses like that.”
Just another day at the office for Patrick Mahomes.
Head coach Andy Reid was asked about it, too.
“I worked real hard with him on that. I built that right into the offense,” he claimed to the assembled reporters, who laughed with him. “He has a knack for that. He is comfortable doing it. This is the NFL — and he is doing it. That’s something to do it in practice, but then you start throwing it in a game — and then a game against the number one defense in the National Football League — that is a little different.
“You have to have tremendous confidence in what you are doing there,” Reid continued. “He did a nice job with it. He actually froze the guy. When you really look at what effect it had on the defense, there was a guy right underneath the route. I would have liked to interview that guy right at the point. That is a tough bind. How do you go explain that to your coach? ‘He was looking over here, but he threw it over there!’ They are going to think you are crazy.”
Other notes from the Chiefs’ Monday press session
Reid caught up with some kudos he forgot to give out on Sunday: “The one guy I didn’t mention yesterday was Eric Fisher on the one fumble that took place. Eric did a nice job of hustling and scrapping there a little bit to get that fumble recovery. So that ended up being a pretty big thing for us. [Also] Tremon Smith — who I didn’t have a chance to mention, either. He imitated Lamar Jackson for us all week. He was an all-state high school quarterback. He came in and ran the option for us and did a heck of a job with it. My hat goes off to him for the look that he gave us on the scout team.”
Reid said the Ravens defense did their best to pressure and confuse Mahomes on Sunday: “We figured we would see a few blitzes, but not quite that many. I saw Patrick stay with it. You can get real frustrated in those situations. He didn’t have any frustration there. We were just figuring it out. Between Eric Bieniemy and Andy Heck and Mike Kafka, they kind of all got it together there. [Mahomes] settled down and made some big plays against it. Listen, they got us a couple times. They got us up front and from Patrick’s side. They got home a few times. You know that is going to happen against a team like that. You just have to hang with it, get it figured out and get ready to roll for the next one.”
Reid spoke glowingly about Damien Williams: “That kid has done a real good job. We weren’t quite sure what to expect. He just loves to play. He goes out and plays special teams, does a heck of a job there for us. He has had a limited role on the offense. We kind of worked him into some things early with our empty package and that, [but we] kind of got away from that some after the Pittsburgh game. He could have easily just hung his head and pouted, but he has great energy. He just keeps bringing it every day. He had a chance the last couple weeks to get in and roll, and he has done a nice job with that. Powerful kid. I think he is more familiar with the offense now. We ask our running backs to do a ton.”
Reid said that the Los Angeles Chargers aren’t quite the same team the Chiefs beat in Week 1: “Well, they’ve added some people. Joey Bosa is back in there going. As the season goes on, you solidify certain things in your scheme and kind of find what your guys do best. They were mixing it up a little bit more at the beginning of the year. They kind of felt that they are in their groove now, and they are rolling with some things that have been effective for them — I think on both sides of the ball.”
Reid said that Bosa and Melvin Ingram are an effective pair of pass rushers: “Well, you get him and Melvin Ingram in there, and then those two are rolling. They have a nice little combination package they play off of each other with. But [Bosa] is a good, solid player. He has a great feel for the game. I know from Gus Bradley’s standpoint, he is glad to have him back in there and going. He plays that strong end position. It solidifies some things for them on that side.”