Patrick Mahomes is taking a democratic approach to his new job. Get open and the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback will get you the ball.
The proof came on Sunday in Pittsburgh in a record-setting 42-37 victory over the Steelers. The first-year starter threw six touchdowns to five different players over four quarters of brilliance that did little to derail the rapidly accelerating hype train around Mahomes, who turns 23 on Monday.
“I think this is even better than we envisioned,” said wide receiver Chris Conley, whose 15-yard touchdown reception less than two minutes in helped kickstart Kansas City’s first win in Pittsburgh in 32 years. “Guys were getting involved all over the field. We were able to spread it out.”
And Mahomes was able to spread it around on a day he had more touchdown passes (six) than incompletions (five) while finishing 23 of 28 for 326 yards. He tied Hall of Famer Len Dawson’s 54-year-old franchise record for most scoring passes in a game and his 10 touchdowns over the first two weeks are the most through two games in NFL history.
Oh, and it was his third career start.
“I see Pat doing this all season long,” said tight end Travis Kelce, who hauled in two touchdowns of his own.
Mahomes is quick to downplay his impact. The way he figures it, he’s just trying to make sure coach Andy Reid’s game-planning doesn’t go to waste.
“There (are) always plays that coach Reid just draws up every single week,” Mahomes said. “I always say that they always work. He just gets on the board in his room and just starts drawing plays. The possibilities are endless.”
So apparently, are the options. Seven Chiefs caught at least one pass. Two — running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson — turned their only targets of the day into scores.
“He’s not going out there and playing favorites,” Conley said. “He’s looking and reading the field. He has the arm to get it anywhere.”
And the Chiefs (2-0) may have stamped themselves as one of the early favorites in the AFC after opening the season with victories over the Chargers and Steelers (0-1-1) on the road.
“I feel like we all expected this,” defensive tackle Chris Jones said.
Not so much in Pittsburgh.
The two-time defending AFC North champions are winless through two weeks. In the opener the blame fell on an offense that turned it over six times in an ugly tie with the Browns. Back home at Heinz Field, the defense looked lost or overmatched, and occasionally both.
“Every category for the defense, we were below average,” Pittsburgh safety Sean Davis said. “You can’t beat a good team like that. We missed tackles. We gave up plays. Too many penalties, You can’t beat a good team like that.”
Some other takeaways from Kansas City’s first victory in Pittsburgh in 32 years.
MY DEAR WATKINS
After a quiet season opener in his debut in Kansas City, wide receiver Sammy Watkins showcased why the Chiefs lavished him with a three-year, $48 million contract in the offseason. Watkins caught six passes for 100 yards — just his third game of at least 100 yards since the start of the 2016 season — and added a 31-yard gain on a jet sweep that set up a score.
“Sammy has gone through a few things through his career and he comes here as one of the big names, you saw what he is,” Reid said. “You get that ball in his hand and he’s an explosive runner. It’s like you have a running back when he has that ball, big, strong, and physical.”
A KICK IN THE HEAD
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell was a Pro Bowler a year ago, a season in which he won three games on last-second kicks. Pittsburgh signed him to a new five-year contract during training camp but Boswell is struggling. He missed a 42-yard field goal in overtime in Cleveland, saw a 49-yard attempt in the first quarter on Sunday sail wide left and later watched an extra-point attempt go wide right.
“Been doing the same thing so it is nothing routine wise,” Boswell said. “There is no blaming anyone else. I just got to figure it out.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger skipped two days of practice in the run-up to the game to deal with an minor elbow injury. The 36-year-old responded by throwing for 452 yards and three touchdowns and diving across the goal line for a 3-yard score with 1:59 left. Still it wasn’t enough to prevent Pittsburgh from getting off to its worst start since 2013, which was also the last time the Steelers missed the playoffs.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ll try to do my best as a leader to let guys know that we’ll put this behind us and get ready for next week.”
Kansas City: hosts San Francisco (1-1) in its home opener.
Pittsburgh: visits surprising Tamps Bay (2-0) on Monday night.
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