The best player in the NFL returned to the postseason with a monster game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Kansas City Chiefs season has been a roller coaster, with up’s and downs, twists and turns that not even Hollywood could script. They have been scrutinized, praised, and were the most talked about team in the NFL. This also meant that Patrick Mahomes was also under the microscope more than any other player in perhaps the history of football.
Every morning sports show, mid-day debate show, and even the local media criticized Mahomes for the team’s struggles and his mid-season slump. Some of it was warranted, some of it was played out banter to draw up interest and ruffle feathers, but as the Chiefs started to come out of the fog, so did their leader.
Mahomes was sensational on Sunday night, dissecting the Steelers’ defense to the tune of 404 passing yards, five touchdowns, completing 30 passes on 39 attempts.
Mahomes made sure to keep Hill and Kelce involved all game, but he made it clear that he is more than comfortable spreading the ball around to his other receivers. Eight players caught the football including backup offensive linemen Nick Allegretti.
We also saw Mahomes utilize a pump fake on his touchdown pass to Byron Pringle. We have seen in the past him use look aways or even some small movement with the ball to manipulate defenders, but this is the first time we have seen him use an actual shoulder rotation while in the pocket. He does an awesome job to look away the defender and Pringle has a good route for the score.
The Steelers only rushed four most of the night and the Chiefs were able to block up most of what they could bring. This left Mahomes comfortable to survey the field and deliver the ball on time.
The Steelers came out and played a lot of two-deep safety looks as well, while also paying extra attention to Tyreek Hill. The deep safeties and soft coverage from the corners opened up the mid to deep sideline areas for routes under the coverage. This is where Mahomes found Kelce for the longest play of the game.
Another look that the Chiefs showed that they haven’t used much this year was a true play-action pass out of the I formation. The linebackers immediately sprint to the line of scrimmage, and when Mahomes pulls the ball Hill had found the open space in the zone. The Chiefs’ commitment to the run game has come back and now opened up a chance for us to see some special plays from Mahomes.
This game showed how far the Chiefs have come this season, but also Mahomes. He could rely on his teammates. Demarcus Robinson along with Pringle both had solid outings. The run game was on point with Jerick McKinnon who also created yards after the catch on check-downs and screen passes. I touched on McKinnon’s game in an article published earlier this week. Jerick McKinnon is the Chief’s secret weapon | Arrowhead Live
The Chiefs and Mahomes will face one of their toughest challenges yet with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills headed to town. This will be a legacy-defining game for both quarterbacks and the largest non-championship game in the history of the Chiefs. For the Chiefs to win Mahomes will need to deliver an all-time performance. Playoff Mahomes is different being than the player we see every week wearing 15. The bigger the game, the better Mahomes plays. This could be an epic run.