As we wait for the Kansas City Chiefs training camp — and the chance to see the next version of head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ offense — it’s a good time to look back at some of the amazing plays that we watched in 2021. Let’s forget how the season ended, focusing instead on much fun it was to watch the Chiefs crush their opponents.
I watched nearly every play from every game. There were so many big plays in big moments that narrowing it down to just five plays was just... unfair.
So I decided to make some rules:
- I’m splitting this into offense and defense, with five plays from each unit. We’ll start with offense — and do defense next week.
- Each playmaker could have just one play in the top five. For example: tight end Travis Kelce had multiple great moments, but only his best one makes the list.
- Mahomes being otherworldly is an understatement. In each of these plays, he does something to make them happen. (OK... this is not really a rule, but an observation of just how lucky Chiefs fans are to have him in Kansas City). By himself, Mahomes had some great scrambles and pocket navigation — but none that could touch this list.
- I wanted to include a super mash-up of all the pancakes Kansas City offensive linemen made last season — but as great as they were, they didn’t make the top five plays.
5. Nick Allegretti touchdown
Mahomes pass complete short right to Allegretti for 1 yard. Touchdown.
So I know I said that pancakes wouldn’t be included — but my goodness! This play is just amazing.
Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, Allegretti — a reserve offensive lineman — comes in as an extra blocker in the goal-line package. He’s tasked with going one-on-one against defensive-player-of-the-year T.J. Watt.
Allegretti walks Watt into space before tossing him to the side and turning back to Mahomes like he’s a veteran tight end. Coming back across his body, Mahomes makes a great throw that hits the wide-open Allegretti.
The celebration alone is worthy of a top-play nomination. The entire team loses its mind — coupled with a big-man spike. Just overwhelmingly fun.
Nick Allegretti. Touchdown. Not a typo.— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) January 17, 2022
4. Byron Pringle shakes three defenders on the way to the end zone
Mahomes pass complete short right to Pringle for 16 yards. Touchdown.
On this play — from the Week 16 game against the Steelers — Pringle does all of the work, taking a simple slant route and turning it into a highlight-reel touchdown all on his own.
First, he runs a crisp route, shows his numbers to Mahomes and secures the ball. Then — after a cornerback overruns his angle — he plants his right foot and tosses the defender aside. Pringle turns upfield, planting his left foot to shake the safety who is flying down to make the tackle. The third Steelers defensive back also falls onto his backside — and Pringle is clear to the end zone.
This is the kind of play that would make Dante Hall proud.
3. Darrell Williams finds the pylon
Williams 38-yard pass from Mahomes. Touchdown.
I hope we never forget this play — which took place against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10.
Mahomes navigates the pocket, trying to find the open space. He’s running toward Demarcus Robinson (who is far enough upfield for the first down), but he launches the ball across his body to the pylon, where Williams has arrived after turning upfield during the scramble drill. Williams high-points the ball over the Raiders’ Jonathan Abrams, plucks it away and lands in the end zone.
The play itself is amazing. But we cannot forget what the game meant. The Chiefs had been struggling offensively, coming into the game with a 5-4 record. It was the first time that a Mahomes-led team had really felt vulnerable. But Kansas City showed up in Las Vegas wearing white-on-white and with Mahomes as its captain. The team got its swagger back — and it propelled them into January.
2. Tyreek Hill’s touchdown with 1:02 remaining
Mahomes pass complete short middle to Hill for 64 yards. Touchdown
#Chiefs had this play dialed up specifically for Tyreek— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) January 26, 2022
Bills in Cover 2 man . Hill is isolated on one side, the other side's routes all go vertical to push the safeties deep. Along w/ CEH's route taking Edmunds to the flat, this leaves the MOF wide open for Tyreek to operate pic.twitter.com/jVZyWnyM9a
Hill lines up on the outside with a defensive back protecting the inside. Hill’s speed is so great that he outruns the inside leverage, giving Mahomes a window to get the ball to him 20 air yards downfield in just three seconds. Unreal.
Hill then makes the defender miss and gets upfield. He makes a subtle cut that destroys the pursuit angles of the Bills’ safeties. By the time Hill reaches the 40-yard line, he still needs to get past four Buffalo defenders — but he already has an open lane to the end zone. When he reaches the 20-yard line, the peace sign is out. The Chiefs are back on top.
Every bit of that 64-yard catch and run is made possible by Hill’s speed — along with his understanding that no angle is good enough to catch him.
1. Travis Kelce’s walk-off overtime touchdown
Mahomes pass complete short right to Kelce for 8 yards. Touchdown.
For me, this was the hardest play to pick. All season, Kelce was just incredible.
This play wasn’t even his only walk-off overtime touchdown. He had one against the Los Angeles Chargers on the road, too. We also can’t forget his incredible 46-yard score against the Ravens, in which he fixed a broken play by scrambling from one side of the field to the other — with every Chiefs player making a block to get him into the end zone.
But this play to end the game against the Bills will be an all-timer. It will be shown at Kelce’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony — along with his touchdown catch in the Super Bowl and his three-touchdown game against the Houston Texans in the playoffs.
After leading the Chiefs to tie the game in 13 seconds at the end of regulation, Kelce leads the charge getting the offense into the red zone in overtime. Then, lined up on the right side wide, Kelce motions in to draw man-to-man coverage against the linebacker. (Remember: no linebacker can cover Kelce — especially this late in a game). Kelce runs a clever pattern: before he turns upfield for the end zone, it looks like it’s just an out route.
Mahomes places the ball on Kelce’s back shoulder. The tight end makes the adjustment to secure the catch and get both feet in bounds. And the game is over.
There is no defense that could have stopped this beautifully-executed play. It was a world-class performance from one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game.