Every unit that makes up the Kansas City Chiefs deserves to feel at fault for the team’s 20-17 loss at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. But only one of the units is headed by the team’s best overall playerr.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes came to his post-game press conference with noticeable disappointment. He finished with 262 passing yards, one touchdown and a game-ending interception, along with a 57% completion rate and a 78.5 passer rating — two marks lower than he’s had in any of his previous 10 games.
Those underwhelming numbers tell the story of an inconsistent offense — as its leader was willing to recognize.
“We just didn’t play good enough — especially on the offensive side of the ball — starting with me,” Mahomes acknowledged to reporters. “Obviously, we missed some kicks and stuff like that — but at the end of the day, we had multiple opportunities to score. We have to find ways to get the ball in the end zone, and that starts with me. We can’t just get yards, we have to get the ball in the end zone when we’re down there.”
In total, the Chiefs had four possessions that ended in Colts’ territory without scoring points. They got three points combined from the two second-half red-zone drives. The offense had one of its worst third-down performances in recent history, converting only three of 10 attempts.
Mahomes didn’t have trouble recalling those missed opportunities.
“It starts with me,” Mahomes reiterated. “There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of them; there were certain situations where we were just barely off — whether it was a defensive linemen [that] got around my feet and I missed Justin Watson, or it was a throw at the end of the game where I could’ve tried to put in front of Juju and it gets tipped up for a pick. It’s just little things like that.”
RODNEY MCLEOD PICKS IT OFF TO SEAL THE GAME FOR THE COLTS! pic.twitter.com/E47nL5l7tB— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2022
Not every one of the offense’s missed chances was on Mahomes, however. Tight end Travis Kelce couldn’t secure a catchable pass in the end zone during the second half, while the rushing attack was incredibly inefficient: Chiefs running backs combined for 29 rushing yards on 17 attempts, including a very low impact on moving the chains.
the Chiefs running backs rushed for 1 first down on 17 combined carries today— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 25, 2022
Mahomes’ typical playmaking can often make up for those sorts of things. Mahomes brought up a particular snap in the team’s first possession, in which the Chiefs nearly scored on a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. After the receiver got behind the cornerback, the ball was too far out in front of him. And Mahomes knew it.
“I had the one the first drive; I missed Marquez,” Mahomes remembered. “I have to hit that — especially in games like this. If I hit that throw, it’s probably a whole different ball game.”
Good news for the MVS take: open deep and targeted.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) September 25, 2022
Bad news: Mahomes missed him. pic.twitter.com/SaRiaSwR91
That was one of the few opportunities Mahomes had to throw the ball downfield; the Colts’ coverage was often forcing him to go underneath. Mahomes could pick it apart as he drove downfield, but the Colts’ strategy did what it was supposed to do: challenge the Kansas City offense to finish drives.
“They played back the entire game,” Mahomes shared with reporters. “Made us drive the field and stopped us in the red zone. I’m sure that was their game plan going in — and they executed it well.”
An Indianapolis game plan tends to center on their defensive line winning the battle up front — and it appeared they did exactly that on Sunday afternoon. Though he was sacked only once, Mahomes was constantly pressured. Still, the quarterback said he could have aided his protectors better.
“It’s my job to get the ball out of my hand, and I feel like I was holding it a little too long in certain situations,” admitted the quarterback. “I have to get better in that instance — and I think I got better as the game went on — but two slow starts? We have to get better in the first half.”
It all comes back to the quarterback because he has the talent and ability to overcome whatever shortcomings the team may have. That’s why Mahomes is hard on himself — and that’s why he will refuse to let other parts of the team take the blame.
“We have to be better,” Mahomes declared. “That’s all I can say: as an offense, we have to be better.”