During the first quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 23-20 win over the New York Jets on Week 4’s edition of “Sunday Night Football,” everything seemed to be going exactly to plan. But after the team had taken a 17-0 lead, the tide changed quickly — and after some costly penalties and turnovers, the Chiefs found themselves struggling to move the ball.
Times like these are when a team needs a player to step up — and on Sunday night, that player was running back Isiah Pacheco, whose 48-yard run was the game’s first touchdown.
In all, Pacheco tallied 158 yards of total offense against the Jets. While his impact on the stat sheet is obvious, it might be easy to overlook his energy. Pacheco — or “Pop” as his teammates call him — is an “energy-giver.” The way he finds (and fights) through contact, bounces up after every hit — and even does push-ups on the field — helped propel a Kansas City offense that seemed to have its gearshift stuck in Park.
“It means a lot to me and the team,” the second-year running back told reporters after the game. “Picking up one another [and] playing hard for one another. [The Jets are a] great team over there.”
A New Jersey native, he played both his high school and college football (at Rutgers) in his home state. With many members of his family in attendance at MetLife Stadium — someplace he had never been — he picked a good time to turn in a career high in both rushing yards (115) and scrimmage yards (158).
“It was a great feeling, he said. “Blessed to see my family here supporting me — and not only that, get a victory.”
One of the game’s most underrated sequences was Kansas City’s final drive, when the offense held on to the ball for the last 7:24 of the game, repeatedly converting long third downs on a drive that covered less than 50 yards. The rushing ability of both Pacheco and quarterback Patrick Mahomes kept the drive alive, sealing the team’s third victory of the season.
“It was a real hard grind,” Pacheco revealed. “Every time I was getting in the huddle, I was telling the offensive line, ‘Let’s strain. Let’s finish.’”
Not every team can play a bad game (at least by its own standards ) and still win. On Sunday night, the Chiefs did exactly that — and just like in Super Bowl LVII, Kansas City turned to Pacheco to play a key role in getting it done.