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Breaking down Patrick Mahomes’ best play of the season

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If there is one good thing that came out of the Chiefs’ first loss...

Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/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 Colts here.

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


Something smart

On Sunday night, many positives were short-lived and resulted in dismay for the Chiefs.

This was a smart design by Andy Reid, and Mahomes executed his role well. The Chiefs motion Blake Bell into a very condensed 3x1 formation. Bell will ultimately cross the formation again, giving a split-zone look on the play-action screen.

The flash ball fake by Mahomes to LeSean McCoy is actually not supposed to be too convincing. The intention is for the defense to see that McCoy doesn’t have the ball, and the running back gives an unconvincing ball-fake as well. Byron Pringle comes from on the line of scrimmage to provide a “Ghost” action on a fake reverse. You can see the flow to the reverse after seeing the ball isn’t in the hands of McCoy. Travis Kelce is working across the field into the boundary out on a route, bringing cornerback Kenny Moore II with him.

I would bet as Mahomes is giving the fake to Pringle, he’s peeking with his peripherals at the free rushers being invited behind the line of scrimmage on the screen design. It’s a common technique taught on plays like this. He is quick to come out of his fake to Pringle to get this ball over the top of the free rush to McCoy, who has blockers and space to work with after the catch. Notice how Mahomes delivers the throw with a high elbow and a little lift off his foot. On screen plays like this, quarterbacks are taught to throw with a high release point and to fall away from the free rushers.

Ultimately the ball is fumbled by McCoy after a big gain, and the Chiefs lose possession in the red zone. An excellent design and great execution by Mahomes.

Something special

At least we can end the Mahomes review this week on a high note.

“Only Mahomes.” - Al Michaels after the only touchdown in the loss to the Colts.

He’s right.

Third-and 18s have become third and manageable in Kansas City. Sunday night was the healthiest we’d seen Mahomes since his high-ankle sprain in Week 1. He looked like his normal self on this play. Shortly after, his injury was re-aggravated and it showed.

We still need to acknowledge his best play of the season (so far).

Mahomes feels quick pressure and starts to escape out the back of the pocket and to his right before seeing defensive end Kemoko Turay with an angle on him. He starts running backwards, peeks back to the middle of the field before rolling outside of the pocket, running away from the rush towards the sideline.

The Colts have three defenders in the end zone, all outside of the big red S. The only receiver outside with them is Mecole Hardman. Watch one of the broadcast angles and you can see Mahomes’ eyes froze the defenders in the end zone. He was late to look at Pringle, only as he went to release.

Mahomes was on the run, falling away from the target and not looking at him until late. He delivered an accurate ball with velocity to beat any closing defender. The eye manipulation and the arm talent allowed the ball to reach the front line of the end zone to Pringle, who caught his first career touchdown. The ball placement was likely simply because it would be impossible for him to get it up higher, but that’s exactly where you want to put a ball on the goal line. Low on the goal line, high on the back line.

I don’t think anyone else in the league can execute this play.

Russell Wilson is certainly capable of everything up to the release of the ball, but I am unsure the play on the ball is more contested. We saw a play on Sunday night that will end up on his career highlights. The creativity and athleticism to escape, the presence of mind to manipulate defenders with eyes out of structure and the raw arm talent to drive a ball 30-plus yards falling away from the target.

Only Mahomes.

Arrowhead Pride Laboratory

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