So far this season, the Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiving corps has had to deal with some heavy scrutiny. While the group has been criticized for its lack of production, Sunday’s performance in Minneapolis was a different story. The group came through with one of its best performances of the season, collecting 176 yards during the 27-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
“I thought our receivers — as a group — did a nice job,” head coach Andy Reid said after the game. “The young guys stepped up — had some good plays. [There were a] couple drops in there. We’ll work on that — but they’re growing, and I thought they were very respectable.”
The game was a true team effort. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed passes to 10 different players, including six of the team’s wide receivers. While their individual statistics may not stand out, several made critical plays at different points of the game.
Mahomes praised the group’s efforts — starting with second-year wideout Justyn Ross, who made a nice leaping catch on a second-and-17 play late in the first quarter.
“He has the talent,” observed Mahomes. “We’re going to keep bringing him on and moving him around in different positions.”
While Ross finished the game with just two catches for 28 yards, his quarterback hopes to see him get more opportunities.
“We’re just trying to find ways to integrate him in the offense,” explained Mahomes. “We have a lot of guys — and we see his talent. We see what he can do and the plays he can make. We’re trying to do whatever we can to put him in positions to go out there and make those plays.
“As he gets more and more comfortable — just like any other rookie, in a sense — we’ll keep giving him more and more chances to go out there and make plays.”
An injury to Kansas City’s star tight end Travis Kelce made it even more important for the Chiefs’ other receivers to step up. Right before halftime, he left the game with what looked like a serious ankle injury. Without its biggest offensive weapon, Kansas City desperately needed someone to step up. Early in the third quarter, veteran wideout Justin Watson answered the call.
Justin Watson is a highlight MACHINE— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) October 8, 2023
On a third-and-18 from the Chiefs’ 17 — and with the game tied at 13 — Watson’s catch was arguably the biggest play of the game. Mahomes heaved a prayer off his back foot into tight coverage — and Watson made an acrobatic catch over the top of a Vikings defender.
“They zero blitzed and Pat put it up,” said Reid. “Watson went up and made a phenomenal play — I mean, a great play.”
Mahomes believes it was a game-changing moment.
“I put up it there for J-Wat to make a play,” he said, “and he made the play for me. So that was a big drive. That started that drive and got us going out of the half. We were backed up — and that really could have changed the game.“
The drive ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass to the Chiefs’ rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice.
Just some wholesome Rashee Rice content— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) October 8, 2023
Rice’s touchdown gave the Chiefs a seven-point lead — and more importantly, kept the offense in rhythm until Kelce returned in the following drive.
Mahomes hopes the young receiving corps can build on the momentum from Sunday’s contest — and still believes the group’s depth will eventually be a big factor for opposing defenses to consider.
“There [are] a lot of young guys out there,” he said. “We’re going to keep everybody moving — and going in the right direction.
“I think by the end of the year, we’re going to be dangerous — because you’re not going to know who is going to get those opportunities throughout the game.”