After an unbelievable overtime victory in the playoffs like we saw the Kansas City Chiefs pull off on Sunday, you might expect everyone in the organization to be beaming and in a good mood on the proceeding Monday.
That was the case for Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman; he got a chance to meet with reporters following his performance of 57 yards and a touchdown in the Divisional Round win. Hardman is always a fun guy to talk to, but he brought some thought-out analogies to the table in Monday’s press conference.
When asked about the final sequence of the fourth quarter that featured 25 points in two minutes of the game clock, Hardman chose a relatable way to describe the feeling.
“So there’s a ride,” Hardman began. “The Hulk, at Universal Studios Islands of Adventures. So how the ride goes is at first you start out real slow and then it shoots you out and it’s like one of those fun, exciting, you’re going fast and then it slows you down, and you’re like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ And then it shoots you back out again, so it’s kind of like that. It’s a rollercoaster.”
I couldn’t have described the insanity of the final stretch of the game better myself. The emotional extremes that everyone in the stadium went through absolutely fit Hardman’s description — where at one moment, a win feels inevitable. Then the next, it feels impossible.
“You feel like you’re in the driver seat, and you’re like yeah, we’re doing great,” Hardman reflected. “We got a chance to win, and then it’s like aw dang we just slowed down, we got to find a way to get back up. That game was special. Probably the worst-best game I’ve played in, in my life. I really enjoyed it, man.”
The most incredible part of the back-and-forth thriller was the final 13 seconds of regulation — when the Chiefs’ chances of winning looked bleak. Yet, they drove the necessary amount of yards to get into field-goal range and won the game.
If they looked prepared for that moment, it’s because they’ve practiced it over and over. It can be tedious to prepare for such a rare situation, but Hardman analogized it to show how important it is.
“It’s like a baby, when you have to change a baby’s diaper every day ,and it’s the type of things where you’re like, ‘Man, I’m tired of doing this. When can they get older and be potty trained?’” Hardman described. “Nah but EB does it because he knows those kind of situations are going to come up. I think he hounded it on us so much that it’s like second nature to us — so when we get in those situations, it’s nothing new to us.”
Before the craziness truly ensued, Hardman played a vital role in the Chiefs establishing a nine-point lead late in the third quarter. After taking a jet-sweep handoff, Hardman followed his blockers and eventually found a seam to explode through towards the end zone. A dive finished the 25-yard scoring run.
Good things happen when Hardman had the ball. (via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/ZgffzCyofC— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) January 24, 2022
“On those jet sweeps or pop passes, your goal is getting a first down, for me anyway,” Hardman explained. “My goal is to get a first down, and anything after that is just a bonus. On that run, I kind of learned from the first run of how they were playing it, how they were scraping the linebacker over and bringing the safety down and those guys do a good job of flowing to the ball. So, I knew if I could get any little crease in there, I might have a chance to pop it so I’m glad we came back to that play.”
That was Hardman’s last touch of the game until an even more critical moment later in the game. As the Chiefs drove in overtime, a pass-play design left Hardman streaking open across the shallow area of the field; the play set up the game-winning touchdown pass.
It was just another example of how impactful Hardman has been with the ball in his hands lately.
“When he dials up things up like the jet sweeps or the pop passes or the screen plays or anything to get me the ball quickly, I enjoy those moments,” Hardman revealed. “I know when I get the ball, I can make things happen in hurry. I’m happy he’s allowing me to be part of this team and be part of the game plan to help this team out and giving me opportunities. As long as he does that, I’m going to just make sure that he’s right by giving me those opportunities.”
Hardman hasn’t given Reid a reason to stop giving him the ball lately. Hardman’s two impactful plays helped the Chiefs top the Bills, but he also had a 41-yard reception against the Steelers that was significant. Before that, he had a career-high in receiving yards during the Week 18 win.
The young receiver’s career has been sort of like a roller coaster — but similar to the Chiefs’ twists and turns of the season, the track is currently moving at an upwards trajectory.