While the Kansas City Chiefs lost 24-20 to the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s highly anticipated matchup, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster’s performance is a positive takeaway. In the best game of his brief Chiefs career, Smith-Schuster caught five passes for 113 yards — including a 42-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the second quarter.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled to avoid pressure, giving his receiver ample time to improvise and get open.
“It felt amazing,” Smith-Schuster said of the critical play after the game. “It’s a great feeling to run to the end zone in this uniform and this atmosphere. Scoring touchdowns here is what I came to do.”
Since arriving in Kansas City, he has learned that a play is never truly over until the whistle.
“Obviously, I had an under route,” the former Pittsburgh Steeler explained. “So they were clearing it out — and I knew that the middle linebacker was going to get out — so I had the middle of the field to work. Obviously, I’ve been here for quite some time now working with Pat. I know a play never ends, basically. I run across the field, Pat sees me wide open [and] throws me the ball. Me, just being the physical player that I am, just split out of it and took it to the house.”
While the out-of-structure play marked his most successful moment as a Chief, Smith-Schuster expects more to come the longer he works with his new quarterback. Ultimately, he hopes to develop a connection with Mahomes that the quarterback famously has built with tight end Travis Kelce.
“I feel like I’ve been building that chemistry with him,” Smith-Schuster claimed. “I’ve seen him and [Travis Kelce] and how they work every single day. I’m trying to get to that point – we’re all trying to get to that point – where the ball is being thrown in the air and he trusts us.”
Mahomes agreed that his new target will look more comfortable as the season progresses.
“He made a couple of great plays,” Mahomes said of Smith Schuster’s game. “He’s battled to kind of continue to evolve in this offense and learn more and more. I’ve kind of said it, I think he’s going to be a big part of this offense because of the way he’s able to catch the ball and run tough through traffic. He had a great game today [and] I’m sure he’ll keep getting more and more involved.”
Their head coach concurred.
“Juju’s strong,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid observed in his postgame comments, “and he’s getting more familiar with the offense every week. That’ll help us as we go forward. You got the see the strength and the speed combination. I was happy for him.”
Sunday’s game against Buffalo was so hyped from the moment this season’s schedule was released that it is almost hard to think about the remaining regular season. Smith-Schuster kept his performance in perspective, knowing there are many more games to come.
“This is only our sixth game in,” he explained. “As time goes on, we just build that chemistry and keep moving forward. I’ve noticed that coming into Week One, Week Two, and now we’re going into Week Seven, I feel like we’re getting there.”
He understands, however, the feeling that this week felt like a postseason game. He hopes the season provides Kansas City with another game against the team that came out on top.
“Playing here, I feel like it’s a playoff atmosphere every game with the fanbase and how crazy it is,” Smith-Schuster declared. “But you’re talking about a great opponent like the Bills. I played them when I was in Pittsburgh.
“Playing here, the rivalry is a crazy atmosphere. I hope to see them again soon.”