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Patrick Mahomes showed maturity and poise in his game-winning drive vs. Lions

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The 24-year-old Chiefs quarterback plays beyond his years, but you likely already knew that.

Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

This is part two of a weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Find something good and something bad against the Lions here.

Here is something smart and something special from this week’s game.


Something smart

Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes led a two-minute touchdown drive with a few minutes remaining on the clock to put the Chiefs back out ahead.

It was far from the flashiest drive we’ve seen from him, but the level of poise and control he displayed was second to none. His savvy decision-making showed how good he is and how far he’s come.

Start with the fourth-and-8 — a got-to-have-it play.

The Lions are in Cover 2 man coverage. That’s a two-deep shell with man coverage underneath. This is a coverage that does not adequately account for the quarterback running the football, unless you put a spy on the quarterback and rush three, like the Lions have done previously.

As Mahomes drops, he sees eyes from underneath coverage are on their receiver and any players with eyes on the quarterback are playing from depth. No one has accounted for the quarterback. It was likely a busted coverage with two defenders following running back Darrel Williams, as he crosses the center into the boundary.

Mahomes smartly tucks and run when he sees space in the middle of the field and extends the drive with a fresh set of downs in a do-or-die situation.

The drive did not call for many spectacular throws, but rather Mahomes taking what the defense gave them with a barrage of crossing routes.

As we talked about Tuesday, Mahomes was struggling to challenge the Lions downfield but was able to find success by letting his receivers make plays for him after the catch.

It takes maturity for a young quarterback to take what the defense gives him and methodically drive down the field like this. Mahomes was patient and poised when failure to score meant a loss. Instead of trying to force a throw vertically, Mahomes found Kelce leaking late as the quarterback bought time in the pocket for a gain of 18 yards.

Later in the drive, Mahomes finds Demarcus Robinson on a crossing route with traffic at his feet and the pocket getting murkier. It was not the sexiest play but an excellent one, nonetheless. Finally, Mahomes was on time on a crossing route to Byron Pringle, who finished the play inside the 5-yard line and gave the Chiefs a first and goal as time was winding down. If he had waited to throw the ball a tick late, Pringle might have had the ball knocked out of his hands by safety Tavon Wilson, who fell off Williams running out the of the backfield as the ball was released.

Great job by Pringle to hold onto the ball through contact in the deep red zone.

Finally, a small subtlety that matters is revealed on the game-winning touchdown run by Williams.

Watch Mahomes after he hands the ball off. In a situation at the goal line and with little time remaining, Mahomes places less priority on the ball fake and more on ball security. This is common practice in four minute offense and goal line situations. He tracks the football after handing the ball off to ensure that there isn’t a fumble. Had the ball come loose, he would’ve been positioned to potentially jump on it. He’s also positioned to push Williams to pay dirt if need be.

To this point, the Chiefs (including Williams once) already had three footballs punched out for fumbles. If the ball got punched backwards, Mahomes would have been in position to recover and give the Chiefs a few more opportunities to score.

Something special

Some of the things this Chiefs offense are able to get away with is astounding. Mahomes bounces out of the pocket to his right and throws the ball back into the middle of the field.

He delivers the ball from near the top of the numbers and completes the pass 20 yards in the air downfield, splitting the hash marks. That kind of angle on a throw back into traffic is often ill-advised, but Mahomes hasn’t got in trouble much to this point challenging defenses with plays like this.

Kelce catches the ball and the laterals it back to LeSean McCoy, who gets an additional 20-plus yards on the run and into the red zone. Had the McCoy elected to run down the left sideline, he might have scored with all the space he had. However, he was still able to get a big gain after the catch — Kelce’s catch.


Arrowhead Pride Laboratory

We went into further detail on Mahomes’ performance and more on the mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.