The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 42-37, to improve to 2-0 to start the 2018 season on Sunday afternoon.
Here are the game’s winners and losers:
- There are almost no words for the game Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes put together against the Steelers on Sunday. Mahomes finished 23 for 28 for 326 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and a near-perfect passer rating of 154.8. Mahomes’ 10 touchdowns in his first two games this season set a two-game NFL record, surpassing Drew Brees (2009) and Peyton Manning (2013), who each recorded nine in their respective years. It is an unbelievable start to Mahomes’ time as a starting quarterback.
- It is really beginning to feel like the Chiefs brain trust (John Dorsey, Andy Reid, Brett Veach and Clark Hunt) may have made one of the most important trades in the history of the league when they moved up 18 slots in the 2017 NFL Draft in a trade with the Buffalo Bills to select Mahomes. At the time, the Chiefs still had Alex Smith with another two years left on his contract, yet they believed in what they saw in Mahomes enough to go get him. They were right.
- The Chiefs’ golden trio—otherwise known as Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins—were clicking on all cylinders on Sunday. Last week, it was the Hill show, with Kelce and Watkins combining for only 27 receiving yards. But Sunday against the Steelers was a completely different deal. Each player was involved in the win. Kelce finished with seven receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns, Watkins finished with six receptions for 100 yards and Hill finished with five receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Seven different players had receptions for the Chiefs on Sunday. Of the three, it was most refreshing to see production from Watkins. The Chiefs featured Watkins early in the game and he helped set the tone for the day. It was Kelce’s 13th career game with more than 100 receiving yards.
- Kareem Hunt also had a productive game with 18 carries for 75 yards, as well as one catch that went five yards for a touchdown. Hunt was held to less than 50 rushing yards last week against the Chargers and he responded nicely.
- Believe it or not, Demarcus Robinson’s score was actually the first regular-season touchdown of his career. Perhaps even more shockingly, Chris Conley’s was just his second. Robinson did an excellent job getting two feet in bounds the back of the end zone on his score. Amazingly, seven different Chiefs have receiving touchdowns through two games.
- Good on De’Anthony Thomas to get his own fumble back on what equated to a 48-yard return. It set the Chiefs up with a short field and set the early tone for the day.
- Anthony Hitchens led the team in tackles for the second game in a row (12). Much was made about what James Conner might do this week, and the Chiefs run defense held him to just 17 yards on eight carries. I also thought Steve Nelson did a good job managing Antonio Brown, who is undoubtedly one of the better receivers in the league. Brown finished with just nine catches for 67 yards. Allen Bailey recorded his first sack since Week 3 last season.
- The Chiefs secondary/pass defense had an awfully tough time with Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who exploded for 13 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Steelers tight end Jesse James added five receptions for 138 yards as part of Ben Roethlisberger’s 452-yard game. The lack of depth in the secondary hadn’t truly hit me until Steve Nelson needed to be helped off the field to end the first half. Had Nelson not been able to go, the Chiefs would have had to deal with Brown, Smith-Schuster and James with Kendall Fuller, Orlando Scandrick and Tre Smith. I don’t know if, in that case, 42 points would have been enough.
- I hate to do this because I always lean on the game being long enough for human error to correct itself, but it definitely felt like the referees left something to be desired on Sunday. How Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t beyond the line of scrimmage on that one play in question is beyond me. In addition, it really didn’t seem like Conner broke the plane on his touchdown. Unless the Steelers offensive line is one of the best in the league, it also seemed like Roethlisberger had all the time in the world. I thought there could have been a few more holding calls on Pittsburgh, especially early in the game. All that being said, it’s worth noting the calls were even by game’s end. The referees called 12 penalties on the Steelers and 12 on the Chiefs.
- Speaking of holding calls, Orlando Scandrick cannot take that holding penalty that negated the Chiefs’ defensive touchdown. You saw the domino effect. Rather than deflating the Steelers, they were given new life. One touchdown following the penalty turned into three, and in a flash, that 21-point lead was gone.
- I think Eric Murray knows he has to have that sack, and the Chiefs may beginning to rethink their plan with Breeland Speaks. Sunday was not Speaks’ game.
- I asked Reid a while back what Spencer Ware’s role would be this year, and Reid, using coachspeak told me he figured Ware to be a starter. Ware has just four carries through two games. When it comes to the running backs, Hunt is the guy. There is no sign of a committee in Kansas City.
- Me. That’s two weeks in a row I was wrong by picking against the Chiefs. A couple of you have already reached out and encouraged me to pick the San Francisco 49ers.
While I’d love to oblige, it is going to be hard for anybody to pick against this offense moving forward.