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Patrick Mahomes hopes to ‘clean up’ interceptions as team heads to Houston

The Chiefs’ quarterback has not lacked highlight-reel plays in recent weeks, but it’s the lowlights that stand out.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

For the two incredible plays that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes made against the Denver Broncos in Kansas City’s Week 14 win, he made three negative ones that nearly outweighed the highlights.

After a no-look basketball dish to running back Jerick McKinnon blew the game open, Mahomes threw two ugly interceptions to help Denver tighten the score before halftime. He helped build the cushion again by spinning around and eventually finding wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the end zone — but then threw a fourth-quarter interception that gave the Broncos a chance to take the lead.

In a career where the great plays have far exceeded the impact of the lowlights, the ratio in this game was an outlier. However, it’s the second time in three weeks that a boneheaded turnover kept a blowout from feeling like a no-doubter.

Mahomes addressed what he needs to work on during his Wednesday press conference.

“I think it’s just more of me taking what’s there and not trying to force it,” Mahomes reflected. “If it’s not there, throw the ball away — especially when we’re in field goal range. Then when I’m trying to dirt the ball, don’t leave it where the guy can get his hand underneath it and pick it. [It was] just a couple of bad mistakes throughout the game, but when you look at the tape, I thought I played pretty good other than those three picks, so [I’m] just trying to clean those up.”

After an end-zone interception against the Los Angeles Rams, Mahomes gave a similar explanation as he did for his second pick against Denver. He is looking to throw an incompletion and move on, and he does so by throwing at the feet of the players. Each time, he has left the pass up.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is confident his star quarterback can get better from the ugly plays.

“That’s not going to happen very often with him,” Reid said during his Wednesday press conference. “It happens with every quarterback, but they got to keep firing. You start getting hesitant, and then everything falls apart on you. So, he’ll learn from it and move on. It’s pretty simple things that he can adjust to fix it, and that’s how he’s wired.”

Many of the pass plays he threw the interceptions on were well covered by the defense. The defensive call effectively countered what the offense wanted to run.

That’s not typical for the Kansas City offense; their playbook is extensive and complex enough to have an answer for everything they face. It’s a compliment to those defenses that can force this confusion out of Mahomes and company.

“They do a good job of calling those ‘good versus all’ plays,” Mahomes said of the offensive coaching staff. “There’s sometimes when you call a game plan specific play that you want to get a certain coverage, or a certain look, and they might do something that was un-game-planned – un-scouted. They got us a couple times throughout the game, but we did a great job of kind of settling in there and getting to those ‘good versus all’ plays because we knew that they were doing a little bit of different stuff. Especially in the late second quarter and early third.”

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

“That’s the fun part; it’s a chess match,” Reid told reporters. “Every once in a while, they’re going to get you, and you hope you get them more than they get you. There are some great minds in this league, so they’re going to get you every once in a while.”

The most recent chess match had the same result as most of the matches have under the leadership of Mahomes and Reid: a win. It will not always be pretty in the NFL, but as long as the lessons are learned for the postseason, these games shouldn’t feed any fan discouragement.

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