Last week's performance from the Kansas City Chiefs' starting players left coaches and fans of the team wanting more from the defending Super Bowl champions. Motivated to prove they were better than they showed, the Chiefs played with a higher sense of urgency and beat the Arizona Cardinals 38-10.
"It was a good effort all the way around," head coach Andy Reid told reporters after the game. "Defensively, I thought we started fast, which we needed to do. Offensively, we had a few hiccups there early, penalties and that, so. We've got to take care of business with that. But I thought all in all, all of the groups came out and played good football—respectable football—and that's what you try to get done in the second game."
The offense, in particular bounced back in a big way — led by the reigning league MVP, Patrick Mahomes. After two lackluster drives to begin the matchup, the Chiefs' offense showcased their Super Bowl-caliber potential with a 92-yard scoring drive capped off with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Justin Watson. After the game, Mahomes credited the team for accepting the challenge and playing better.
"Coach Reid said one thing, and everybody knew we needed to have better urgency," Mahomes said during his postgame press conference. "He just came in and basically said that. He said that the one's didn't play well last week and the young guys played well. So the young guys gave us a challenge that we needed to go out there and play better football from the get-go."
Reid also said seeing the ones "knocking off some rust" during their second preseason game was important. Mahomes was the catalyst for that, finishing his night completing 10 of 15 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in one quarter of play. The superstar quarterback hit nine different receivers during his three offensive possessions as he led the starting offense to its first preseason touchdown.
"I was telling the guys if we don't want to keep playing, we better score because coach (Reid) is going to keep us in this game until we score," Mahomes recalled after the game. "We had some mistakes early in the game. Obviously, the penalty, the OPI which kind of goes here and there. The holding penalty got us out of rhythm. Some little stuff here and there that we have to clean up. A couple of the guys did a good job playing hard, playing fast. We'll continue to get better and better and build for the first regular season game."
Although Mahomes had an efficient night, the play getting all the attention was on a pass he didn't complete. On a seemingly lost third-and-16, the Chiefs quarterback was chased to his right and looked to be headed out of bounds for a loss on the play. However, in true Mahomes fashion, he jumped inches from the sideline and nearly completed a mid-air pass just out of reach to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Patrick Mahomes throw from out of bounds in slow motion! pic.twitter.com/1fcvVYoowq— Brad Henson Productions (@BradHensonPro) August 20, 2023
"I was either going to throw it away or give the receiver a chance," Mahomes explained. "I tried to give (Chiefs Wide Receiver) Marquez (Valdes-Scantling) a chance. I don't know if he knew I was going to still throw it since I was so close to the sideline, but it makes good work. Being able to scramble around and work that scramble drill, I thought we did a good job of that on a couple of occasions today. So you get into a preseason game and you get good work in. I thought we did a good job today."
While the scramble drills synonymous with the Kansas City offense are always fun, they aren't indicative of the offensive line's outstanding job on Saturday night. The starting unit gave Mahomes plenty of time to make plays, and the entire position group did not allow a single quarterback hit on any of the team's 38 pass attempts on Saturday night.
It's safe to say Mahomes was very pleased with those in charge of protecting him.
"I told my offensive linemen that I play in the preseason to get hit one time, and I literally didn't get touched these last two games," Mahomes noted. "So they did a great job. It's a good problem to have. There were times where I sat in the pocket for a while and it was like they're keeping everybody away from me. When I scrambled it seems like I scrambled just to try to make a play when I had too."
With training camp over and another preseason game in the books, the Chiefs look to keep the momentum going, as they are now less than three weeks away from beginning the regular season.
"We know it's the preseason that the games don't necessarily count, but you want to have that momentum going into the regular season," Mahomes said. "I think coach Reid is pretty adamant about that, and the guys responded well."