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Matt Nagy: Chiefs’ Marquez Valdes-Scantling has stepped up in big-time games

On Thursday, Kansas City’s offensive coordinator discussed the recent impact of his most experienced wide receiver.

NFL: DEC 10 Bills at Chiefs Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Although the Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receivers drew heavy criticism throughout the regular season, the playoffs have been a different story. Several Chiefs wideouts have made critical plays during postseason — including veteran receiver Marquez Valdez-Scantling, who came through with a pair of big catches in Sunday’s 27-24 Divisional Round win over the Buffalo Bills.

“He made two really good catches,” observed Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy on Thursday. “The first one to start the third quarter was a really, really good throw by Pat [Mahomes] — and it was a great catch by ‘Quez. It was a contested catch; [he was ] trying to keep [his] feet in bounds and make the catch. That momentum to start the second half is huge to get going, so there’s a little bit of confidence that’s there.”

In 2022, the Chiefs signed Valdes-Scantling to a three-year, $30 million deal, hoping that he would help fill the void after the team had traded wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. But his tenure with the team has been more boom-or-bust than they were expecting — especially in an offense led by Patrick Mahomes’ talented arm.

Fortunately, Sunday’s matchup was more on the “boom” side. As the team’s main deep threat, Valdes-Scantling finished the game with two momentum-building catches for 62 yards — much to Nagy’s delight.

“I do know this: [Valdes-Scantling] has really stepped up in big-time games and moments for us over the past two years,” said Nagy. “When he makes those plays and Pat makes those throws, it’s only going to improve their confidence in each other.”

Right behind Valdes-Scantling on Sunday was rookie wideout Rashee Rice. The first-year standout followed his record-breaking Wild Card performance with a more modest four-reception game in which he gained 47 yards.

All season, Rice has been the bright spot of the Chiefs’ wide receiving corps — and he credits a lot of his success to Valdes-Scantling’s veteran tutelage — which has continued during the rookie’s first postseason.

“He’s been very important,” Rice told reporters. “If there’s anybody that’s helping me a lot on the field and off the field, it’s Marquez. Anything that I need to know, he’s there for me to help me — even when it comes to playing against other teams. He’s been in the league for five or six years, so he’s been playing against a lot of those guys and can let me know anything I need to know.”

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