In 20 offensive possessions (those that don’t include the end of the game), the Chiefs have scored 12 touchdown — and quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been directly involved in nine of them.
Something Mahomes has also done during the playoffs is shown an increased willingness to run the football when necessary, as best showcased by his 27-yard go-ahead touchdown on Sunday vs. Tennessee.
Mahomes broke the play down after the game.
“They were playing kind of a version of two-man or 11-double I would say, where they were doubling Tyreek (Hill) in the speed and (Travis) Kelce obviously with the things he did last week,” said Mahomes. “So, with them playing like that, the line kind of got them put back and all together with the D-line so I broke it. I was thinking about running out of bounds but as I got to the sideline, I realized I could cut up and I was running down the sideline and I knew we had two timeouts so I was like I might as well cut it back. So, I cut it back and luckily I was about to hang onto the ball and get in the end zone.”
It was a play that never could have happened Week 10, when Mahomes was returning from a dislocated kneecap injury and Andy Reid’s game plan was intentionally conservative, as reported ahead of the game by NFL Network’s James Palmer.
The #Chiefs gameplan for Week 10 vs the #Titans was far different from most of their gameplans I’m told. With it being Mahomes first game back (dislocated kneecap) KC was conservative & eliminated plays that involved Mahomes moving outside the pocket. Very different plan today— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 19, 2020
The Chiefs lost to the Titans 35-32 in that game, but Sunday was a much different story — thanks to Mahomes being at full health.
“He’s a deadly quarterback outside of the pocket,” said Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard. “He can make throws – the same throws outside of the pocket that he makes in the pocket. That’s just something that we knew coming in that we didn’t do today. And that’s why he was able to get rushing yards and almost 500 of total offense.”
Mahomes has actually led the Chiefs in rushing in each playoff game so far, accumulating 53 yards on eight carries in his latest outing against Tennessee.
“We knew he could scramble around and make plays with his feet,” said Titans safety Kevin Byard. “We knew the last game he really wasn’t using his feet like that, due to the knee injury. They came back and did what they needed to do to win the ballgame.”
Reid explained Monday what Mahomes’ legs offer to what the team is trying to accomplish on offense.
“It helps, especially with some of the coverages they’re presenting him,” he said. “[Opposing teams] have the ultimate respect for him, and they’re doubling our guys, so your getting not just one guy doubled but two guys doubled, so the defensive line — they’re trying to sack him, so if they make one miss on it or get out of their lane a bit, it’s over.
“He’s got all this running space. We’ve seen that the last couple weeks now. For him to be able to decipher it, see it and then go — and he still keeps his eyes downfield, hoping guys have a chance to get open.”
That is exactly what happened on the 60-yard touchdown to wide receiver Sammy Watkins that put the game out of reach at 35-17 with less than eight minutes to play, explained Reid.
“[Mahomes was] scrambling to the right, throws a 60-yard — whatever it was — on a dime, and he probably could have run that a little bit, too.”
Thanks to ankle and knee injuries for much of this season, Mahomes wasn’t really able to do the types of things he did for all of 2018. Now that his health has returned, so too has his dual-threat ability — and with it, his MVP form.