The Kansas City Chiefs trailed the Washington Football Team 13-10 at halftime this past Sunday — despite the Chiefs outgaining the Football Team 274 yards to 200 through the first two quarters. The score was reflective of the Chiefs turning the ball over three times, including two interceptions by quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a Mecole Hardman fumble that turned into seven points.
“All you can do is pretty much just laugh about it,” said the quarterback on Wednesday. “There’s no excuse you’re going to make, there’s no rhyme or reason of why it happened, you just kind of have to move on to the next play. I think that’s what I did on the football field as well. You can’t go back and dwell on it. It happened and it’ll probably be shown for a long time, but you just have to make on to the next play and at least I’ll be able to say we won the football game after that.”
Mahomes finished the half 13 of 23 for 222 yards, those two picks and a 53.2 passer rating. But after an empty possession to start the second half, something clicked.
Mahomes suddenly looked like the old Mahomes — and the offense suddenly found its groove for three straight touchdown possessions.
“I think as an offense, especially for me, just to stop hurting myself,” said Mahomes. ‘“Just stay within the reads, stay true to the reads and when it broke down, got out of the pocket and tried to make plays happen. Pretty much just staying true to who I am and not try to do too much and kind of relied on the other guys to make plays and they did.”
Mahomes was 20 of 24 for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the second half — and he ultimately finished with a 90.5 passer rating.
Mahomes shifted back in sync with his prime targets in wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, who each finished with at least eight receptions. Hill had the go-ahead touchdown after his first-half drop led to one of the interceptions.
Mahomes’ best play of the game — and maybe the season — was a cross-body, cross-field throw to Hill that was called back.
Why is everyone so obsessed with Mahomes … pic.twitter.com/ctYXDuP6Ov— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) October 18, 2021
The defense held up its end of the bargain, as the Chiefs scored 21 straight to win 31-13 in a blowout.
This week, some analysts have suggested that Week 6 halftime at Washington could end up mirroring Week 11 in Mexico City in 2019. After losing to the Tennessee Titans the week before, the Chiefs were on the verge of losing to the Los Angeles Chargers. But they came out of the halftime locker room a better team, and it never lost a game the rest of the season — including their Super Bowl LIV victory.
Perhaps this will be 2021’s “enough-is-enough” moment.
“You just felt that in the locker room,” said Mahomes. “There was nothing really said. It was really just, ‘We got to play.’ If we lost that game, we were going to be in really bad shape, and we’re still not where we want to be at right now. But we just got to keep getting better and better every single day and making the most out of it. Hopefully, the win-loss record will handle itself at the end of the season.”
Mahomes says he wouldn’t call Week 6’s halftime a “reset,” but rather, merely something to build upon.
“We’re still nowhere near where we want to be at,” explained Mahomes. “We still have a long way to go with cutting the turnovers down, executing better as an offense and finding ways to score touchdowns and when they’re not there, take field goals. It’s something we have to continue to get better at, and we have a long way to go, but it was definitely a great start to finish out that half like that and hopefully carry that momentum into this week.”
That energy resonates with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who lives by the day-by-day approach to the season, a strategy that has seen his Chiefs teams participate in the postseason much more often than not.
Just because the Chiefs turned it around against Washington does not necessarily mean that everything is fixed.
“You’ve got to go do it,” said Reid. “You can’t talk about it anymore, you’ve got to go do. So, the guys will come out [Wednesday], they’ll work hard, that’s where it starts. Practice fast and accurate and try to maximize that the best you can in preparation. Then, you let the chips fall where they may when you go play. You’ve got to prepare yourself.”
“We get the best out of each other every day at practice,” added Mahomes. “You have to go in with that mindset of we have to get better and better. Obviously, we want to win every single week, we want to win every single day, but you have to get better and better in order to get where you want to be at the end of the season. We’re going to play another great football team early in the schedule so I’m excited for the guys to see what we’ve become as the season’s gone on.”
The Chiefs’ next opponent is those same Titans, who are coming off a significant win of their own. After an embarrassing loss to the New York Jets, the Titans have won two games in a row, including a Monday night shocker over the Buffalo Bills, who bullied the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium.
That kind of win can give a team confidence that it can beat anyone, especially as running back Derrick Henry is in the midst of the best season of his career. The Titans won’t care that the Chiefs dropped a few games. Beating a team that’s won back-to-back AFC titles — including one against them — will be all the motivation they need.
But Mahomes still embraces that fact.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Mahomes. “You want to be the guys that everybody is going for because you’re going to get their best shot from everybody and that’s going to make you great in the end. I think the guys understand that. We know we’re going to get a great game every single week and we have to come prepared to battle every single week, and that makes us better in the end.”