The Kansas City Chiefs woke up on Monday at 1-2 — under .500 for the first time since Week 10 in 2015. That is incredible to fathom — and in reality, perhaps it shouldn’t be.
The Los Angeles Chargers kicked a field goal to tie the game at 24 on Sunday, leaving quarterback Patrick Mahomes with just over two minutes on the clock. At the time, it seemed inevitable that Mahomes would lead the Chiefs to victory.
But to the Chargers’ credit, they forced the Chiefs to third-and-8 at the Kansas City 27, and after a no-look interception earlier in the game, Mahomes, having been flushed to his right, tried for a pass using another one of his usual tricks — the extrasensory perception (ESP)-like connection he has with tight end Travis Kelce.
But uncharacteristically, Kelce zigged as Mahomes zagged — and safety Alohi Gilman came down with the pick.
“You always want to make sure we’re doing a great job protecting the football, especially in those critical moments of the game,” said offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Monday. “One thing that we do know: we just want to be smart. On top of that, making decisive decisions that’s not going to put us in the situation where it becomes detrimental. When it’s all said and done, we can take care of the ball better — a lot better. And if we’re taking care of the ball better, obviously, we’re giving ourselves a chance to win.”
During his post-game press conference on Sunday, Mahomes described what happened on the key turnover.
“It was just a misconnection,” said Mahomes. “He rolled out and I thought he was about to roll kind of towards the sideline and I was going to throw it up with him. He’s usually pretty good about jumping up and catching those. Right when I threw it, he kind of cut back and it one of those things where I probably shouldn’t throw it — especially in that situation.
“There’s been many times where we’ve made that work and made a big play on it.”
Over the first four years of his career, Mahomes has found great success while improvising — especially when Kelce is involved. The connection runs so deep that they can typically glance at each other before concocting a way to get a big gain.
“If you look, he kind of rolls to the right and he saw me — we actually talked about it — he saw me reset,” said Mahomes. “Usually when I reset, he cuts back and I usually find him. That’s where you saw the touchdown in Baltimore last week. But at the exact time, I was releasing it, he kind of went with the reset. It happens. Obviously, we want to take care of the football in that situation, but we’ve made a lot of big plays happen in my career won that. So I’ll never lose that part of me.”
Though that target did not work out, Kelce finished the game with seven catches for 104 yards.