Welcome to the Mahomes Report, a weekly breakdown from Brendan Dzwierzynski ol rig what Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes did, either good or bad, during the most recent Chiefs game. For past editions, click here.
It was inevitable.
The whole world, or at least the several million people watching Sunday Night Football, knew that Patrick Mahomes was going to give the Kansas City Chiefs a chance to win if he was given just a little time. Then the Raiders scored. Then it, like that, it was over.
Mahomes has given the Chiefs, and subsequently Chiefs fans, an unreal amount of confidence in late-game situations. That’s a good and deserved thing. It’s the same benefit of the doubt that all the legends have gotten.
It was far from a perfect game off the bye for the Chiefs. That includes Mahomes, whose numbers were flashy once more but who also had a couple down moments. And the defense will deservedly be raked over the coals this week. But when you’ve got the one guy who can make every play and make every throw you’re never out of a game.
No victory lap for the Raiders this time around.
We start this week with a trio of passes from the final Kansas City drive of the game. Mahomes was feeling himself in a clutch situation, obvious from the first play of the game-winning drive.
Just your average throw while sliding to the non-dominant side with a sidearm delivery. Totally normal. Mahomes works to the less dangerous half of the pocket and scans that side of the field. He sees Tyreek Hill working on linebacker Nicholas Morrow (50) across the middle, then uses a slide step to open his body up to the necessary throwing lane. From there it’s just a beebee of a throw to Hill, delivered sidearm with maximum velocity. There’s that baseball background popping up in a key moment.
Later on the drive, Mahomes used a more traditional delivery to rifle a pass to Mecole Hardman for a crucial third-down conversion.
This was Hardman’s only catch of the game and it came at the best time possible. He’s running a two man route concept in the middle of the field with Hill. Hill, from the inside slot, is running a drag across the middle, which draws in both Morrow and Nick Kwiatkowski (44). That frees up a throwing lane to Hardman, who’s running the over route with inside leverage on cornerback Nevin Lawson (26). Mahomes fires a bullet to his target, hitting him in stride in front of the defensive back for the 16-yard pickup.
Just three plays later, Mahomes capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to white-hot Travis Kelce.
Mahomes was just 1-of-5 on passes over 20 yards on Sunday night, but that one completion was this touchdown strike. Credit to the Chiefs offensive line here, which bottles up the pass rush and leaves Mahomes free to make a throw with no straggling pass rushers attacking him. He has bounce out and up because of the mass of bodies in the trenches, but it gives him the ability to more clearly see the whole field, specifically Kelce completely abandoned in the end zone. Mahomes doesn’t give the defense a chance to recover, throwing a dart right on target to his all-pro tight end. It will be fun to watch the all-22 film of this game to see what breakdown led to Kelce being so open.
That was the second of two touchdown passes by QB1 in the Week 11 win.
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth made note during the TV broadcast of how much motion the Chiefs like to use on the goal line. We see that every week here in the Report, and it’s what frees up Hill to waltz in with an east touchdown this week. Simply enough, defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) is left in conflict without much time or space to react to whatever Mahomes does. This play is an RPO, so Mahomes is reading Crosby off the left edge. He attacks Mahomes while Hill is racing to the left. Meanwhile, Morrow is also in trouble, having taken a step to run action in the opposite direction. He can’t catch up to Hill, who is wide open because Crosby went downhill at the quarterback. Beautiful design and an easy touchdown.
Even beyond the final drive, it was a masterful fourth quarter from Mahomes. It was a quarter that included this game-saving conversion on fourth down to Demarcus Robinson.
Robinson had a tough game overall, but Mahomes showed faith in his receiver on this play. The Raiders did the smart thing here and brought extra pressure, trying to force a rushed throw or a bad decision. Carl Nassib (94) even gets a free rush at Mahomes, but QB1 hangs in, pikes his body while fading backwards and delivering a pass over the top to Robinson. Given the defense’s struggles, the Chiefs absolutely needed this conversion, and Mahomes delivered.
Two plays later, he delivered again.
You almost have to feel bad for a defense in a situation like this, because you can play a perfect rep and still get torched by something spectacular like this. Mahomes is forced to escape the pocket and has to break his rhythm because of a late closeout by Kwiatkowski. But instead of panicking or throwing the ball away, he backpedals, continues to scramble right and throws a frozen rope to Kelce with no margin for error. It’s not like he had a chance to set and load up, either, instead being forced to pass while elevated and positioned in an unorthodox way. It’s just special what he can do.
Speaking of special:
If Mahomes is pulling out throws like this you can pack up and go home (unless, of course, the Chiefs defense can’t do anything to stop you, either). The offensive line holds up well and gives Mahomes plenty of time, but due to good coverage he doesn’t pull the trigger. That’s followed by a protection breakdown late, forcing Mahomes to turn away from the play to spin out left. Despite this, and despite good coverage on Kelce specifically, the right-handed Mahomes fires a pass to the left while shuffling in the same direction. It’s low and away and a tough catch for the tight end, but a throw a fraction of a degree off falls incomplete.
The Raiders were able to force No. 15 into a few scrambles on Sunday night, but if he’s able to throw across his body like he does in this next play then it really doesn’t matter.
Once again Mahomes is making an awkward throw back toward the middle of the field, but this time around he’s throwing entirely crossbody as he sprints to the right sideline. He does an excellent job, as always, of keeping the play alive with his eyes, waiting for someone to come open. Unsurprisingly, it’s Kelce, and the tight end makes the snag for the first down.
That connection was unstoppable throughout the night.
Stanford Steve on ESPN’s Sportscenter with Scott Van Pelt loves to say “the tight end is always open.” That’s not a joke when you’re talking about this offense and this tight end. This is a nightmare play for the Raiders because they didn’t do anything to prevent a chunk gain. There’s no pass rush pressure whatsoever, while Kelce is running free behind the linebackers and in front of the corner. It’s just too easy for Mahomes and this offense sometimes.
And that’s without QB1 doing something with perfect execution that manipulates the defense, like we see in the following play.
Nevin Lawson (26) is going to pound his head on the table when he sees this play on film. There’s a designed bootleg right here with the receivers running a variation of the flood concept in that direction. Mahomes gets Lawson caught in no-man’s land and makes sure that Hill, his desired target, will be open with a gnarly pump fake. You can see Lawson get frozen with the fake, taking a step inside and losing any sort of momentum he has on the play. Hill ends up wide open and gets a first down.
Mahomes pulled out his usual trickery to clown Raiders defenders over the course of the game. On this third down and short situation, it was a play fake and good awareness that led to a rocket of a pass.
The ever-pesky Johnathan Abram blitzes from the right edge and flies toward the mesh point on this RPO. Mahomes fakes the inside give to Darrel Williams, then circles out wide enough to avoid getting clipped by Abram as the defender skids to a stop. Hill was running a dig from the opposite side of the field and has no one in front of him to close the passing window. Mahomes sees this and fires a strike to his speedy receiver to pick up the first down.
Later in the first half, facing another third down with one yard to go, Mahomes made the best of a sticky situation to move the sticks.
He’s able to take a bad snap and turns it into a play that looks strangely fluid. Mahomes hauls it in with his right hand and spins with only a slight hitch in his movement, and he immediately reestablishes his attention on his intended area of the field to throw to. Robinson is running a whip route along the left sideline and has both Damon Arnette (20) and Kwiatkowski beaten to the outside. Watch Mahomes’s eyes as he comes out of the spin, recognizes this right away and makes the challenging, lunging throw to pick up the first. This is an example of supreme awareness by the quarterback twice on the same down.
Finally, some snatched ankles.
David Irving (95) is a large man and Mahomes just puts him on skates. his “fight or flight” instincts kick in here as he takes off running on third and 10, racing through the gap created by his right tackle and guard. It’s a good decision to run in this situation, knowing where he has to get with the ball while everyone is covered, but the stop on a dime is the true magic. Not quite Reggie Bush switching hands on the sideline against Fresno State, but it’s darn good for a quarterback. Two guys are entirely washed out of the play by a scrambling quarterback on third and long. It’s just another addition to the “what can’t he do?” folder.
So, Mahomes threw his second interception of the year in the Week 11 victory. However, while it ends up here, it wasn’t entirely QB1’s fault.
Robinson didn’t show any real interest in fighting for this ball, instead ceding positioning to cornerback Trayvon Mullen (27), who also fell down. All interceptions fall in the bad category so we’re keeping it fair here, and on NBC Collinsworth did venture a guess that there was some miscommunication and that’s why the ball was picked off. Then again, a blatant case of Ricardo Lockette Syndrome for Robinson didn’t help at best and was solely to blame at worst.
Mahomes did have one other bad ball in the win, one which could have been disastrous had the Raiders been prepared for it.
We’ve been saying since his rookie season that you will absolutely take the occasional poor decision in exchange for all the magical moments Mahomes brings to the table. Thus, this pass is forgivable. It was still a bad decision, though, considering a Raider had a better chance to make a play on the ball than Hill did. The crossbody throws work (spectacularly, to be fair) when there’s zip on them, but a jump pass lofted back over the middle of the field is asking for trouble.
Both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell made critical plays for the Chiefs in Week 11, all of which should give Kansas City fans a little extra confidence heading into the stretch run.
First up, Edwards-Helaire breaks out his shiftiness and agility to score a long touchdown run, with an extra assist near the goal line from Byron Pringle.
Mullen is the last line of defense and Pringle swallos him up with the block, also taking Jeff Heath (38) out of the play with a screen, which springs CEH the final few yards for the touchdown. This is a well-excecuted team run.
But, maybe more importantly, Clyde was able to also punch in a short score on the goal line.
The one area where he has struggled in particular to start his career is in goal-to-go situations. TO see CEH keep fighting, churning his legs and getting help from the offensive line to get into the end zone is a truly important development for a team that needs to improve its red zone offense in general.
And how about Bell getting in on the act?
Anything positive Bell gives you is a major win, considering his signing was a major luxury. This is a vintage Bell play, showing off his upright style, patiently waiting to turn up his speed and then powering through to the end zone. If the Chiefs can get him going it’s just another headache that opposing defensive coordinators will need to deal with.
The single most-predictable thing that happened in Week 11 was Andy Reid drawing up something wild and chaotic in the red zone.
Kelce throwing a shovel pass to Pringle with a few yards to go to the end zone is just the latest wacky design from Reid, another wrinkle that nobody else even thinks of using. It’s well designed, with Pringle disengaging from his block with space in the middle of the field. However, not to be a wet blanket, but if you run a play like this at the five-yard line you better get into the end zone. “Slot machine right” doesn’t have quite the same sexiness when it’s a gain of just a few yards.
For the love of God, please tackle.
This clip shows two examples of horrendous tackling from the same second-quarter drive, but it was a dreadful outing for Chiefs tacklers all game long. Receivers, tight ends, running backs, they were all able to shed tackles constantly. At some point it’s not on coaching, it’s on the players to actually do what they’re paid to do. It was about as bad as it’s been all year in that department for Kansas City.
You should also cover the best pass-catching threat on the other team.
Even the best defenses blow their coverage sometimes, but inside the five you should always know where No. 83 is an make sure he’s accounted for.
Overall, it was a tough game for the defense. The pass rush was nonexistent, the linebackers couldn’t tackle and the secondary was grabby and slow. The talent is there to fix all of these issues, so for now it’s not a massive concern, but at some point you do need to actually fix it all. Week 12 versus the Buccaneers would be a great start.