Patrick Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s opener against the Cleveland Browns to give the Chiefs the lead. Here is how they did it.
The Kansas City Chiefs came away victorious in their opening game of the season 33-29 over the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs trailed in the game by as many as twelve and were down nine at one point in the fourth quarter before a furious comeback.
To cap the fourth-quarter run Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce in the endzone to give the Chiefs their first lead of the game.
In the NFL comebacks, and plays happen fast, blink and you might miss them. This play took just under three seconds to run from the time the ball was snapped, but the design of the play was very telling for the end result.
The Chiefs came out with trips to the right side of the field, Robinson, Hardman, and Kelce. Tyreek Hill was lined up on the opposite side of the field, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the right of Mahomes.
Cleveland had four down linemen in an over, with one high safety, and corners matching the receivers. The corners were playing off the ball, all except for the man guarding Hill. The sam linebacker was lined up across from Kelce. It looked like it could have been man defense for Cleveland, but the Chiefs would get to find out what they were doing with an Andy Reid staple.
Before the ball was snapped Mahomes send Edwards-Helaire across the field in motion. This empties the backfield, making it clear that KC will pass the ball. What it also does is show Mahomes where the opening is going to be, as well as who will have the space.
The Sam linebacker heads out wide with Helarie, while at the same time the Will backer starts to drop back toward the same side of the field as Hill. This is going to mean that the Mike backer will be responsible for coming over and covering the middle of the field. This is also where Kelce is going to take advantage of space.
Once the ball was snapped very quickly revealed that the Browns were in Zone, but from watching his pre-snap keys Mahomes was able to QUICKLY anticipate what he was going to do. Hill would be double covered and jammed at the LOS. The free safety would rotate to the middle of the field, with both corners on the left dropping to the end zone.
The sam backer kept going out with Helaire, but the mike was late getting over to Kelce, and Kelce with the space created from the vacated sam just stops his route on a simple hitch, and the ball is out of Mahomes hand in a split second. No one is close enough to stop him, and he lunged his way to six and the lead.
It was a simple play, but like all plays, it was complicated. It was routine by Mahomes and Kelce’s standards, but it was enormous for the outcome of the game. The Chiefs ran 61 offensive plays on Sunday, this was just one of them, but no play is ever as easy as it seems. We see the physical, but it’s the mental side that often leads to winning or losing football games. This play is the perfect example of where physical meets mental in the NFL.