During Sunday’s 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes further cemented himself in NFL record books by getting to 5,000 passing yards and 40 scoring throws this season, the second time he has accomplished that feat in one year. The only other quarterback in NFL history that has ever racked up those stats in one season two different times is Drew Brees.
Yet, when Mahomes stood at the post-game podium following his team’s 13th win of the season, the theme of his dialogue revolved around the negative aspects of his play — specifically, some missed throws that kept this game closer than it could have been.
“I feel like my feet got bad there in the second half,” Mahomes admitted to reporters. “Then I missed the deep throws whenever they were there, and so when you’re playing a defense like this, whenever they give you opportunities you have to execute on them, and I didn’t today.”
The self-critical quarterback started the game on a hot streak, missing only one of his first 13 attempts. The last of those initial throws resulted in a flick of the wrist to tight end Travis Kelce, earning a first down in the red zone and chants of “MVP” from the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium. It put the Chiefs in a position to take a two-score lead.
On the next three snaps, Mahomes fired to the end zone each time — failing to complete one. The last attempt was intercepted by Denver safety Justin Simmons, undercutting a throw to the sideline.
Mahomes would still throw three touchdowns, avoiding any other turnovers for the remainder of the day — but the missed scoring opportunity will be stuck in the quarterback’s mind as he hones his craft for the postseason.
“It was a bad throw just in general,” Mahomes told reporters. “I mean I left it really far inside. I don’t even know if (wide receiver) (Justin) Watson would’ve been able to catch it because I threw it so far inside.”
That inaccuracy became a theme, especially in the second half. The third quarter’s opening drive was quickly doomed by two deep incompletions to wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore, who both appeared to find space away from defenders.
On the next possession, Valdes-Scantling once again found room vertically — but the pass was too far out of bounds for him to reach, leading to a second punt. They punted a third time soon after, headlined by a pass thrown behind Kelce running across the field.
“I lost my mechanics in that second half,” Mahomes reflected. “I was trying to find a way to get back into them. I think you saw even in some of the completions – at least I felt like my feet weren’t in the right spot. I was kind of throwing off my back foot, and I think that whenever I get in that mode is whenever I can struggle, so I have to be better at kind of correcting that stuff in game.”
The offensive “lull” — as Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid described it during his post-game press conference — allowed the Broncos to take a 17-13 lead eventually, holding it as the third quarter ended.
From there, Kansas City awoke — scoring two touchdowns and outlasting Denver to the finish line. Reid put the full 60 minutes of game action into perspective when he spoke with reporters after the contest.
“Pat ended up 29 of 42, still over a 100 passer rating with 328 yards,” Reid shared. “There are some plays that he would definitely want to have back, but that’s how picky we are. We start nitpicking these things, as he does — but that’s what great players do.”
Reid was spot on, as Mahomes had already started learning from this game's negatives. He was able to rattle off the specific things he is looking forward to improving on before the playoffs arrive.
“I just got to continue to go back to my fundamentals, especially as the season goes on,” Mahomes noted. “You get in funks sometimes, and you have to find a way to battle through, and we did today, but I’ll just really emphasize my feet, having a good base in the pocket and making the throws. It’s hard to get reps on those deep ones because you’re at the end of the season, you can’t get a lot of reps, but when we have them in practice, I’m going to make sure that I throw them the right way and don’t just throw it for the completion, throw it for the touchdown.”
As frustrating as the win may have felt at times, it was the team’s best player making some of the most crucial errors — ironically spoiling some good snaps from the role wide receivers.
When it matters most, we know Mahomes will find his level: being the best quarterback in football. If that can be more consistently paired with impressive play from the wide receiver room, Sunday’s frustration will be worth it in the postseason.