The Kansas City Chiefs finally got that monkey off their back, walking into Pittsburgh and defeating the Steelers 42-37 on the strength of 6, yes, SIX Patrick Mahomes touchdown passes! After a strong first game performance, the Chiefs came into week 2 against the team that has had their number more than any other in the last few seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, Kansas City got beat 19-13 by the Steelers at Arrowhead, and the year before in the playoffs they lost 18-16 in a game in which they didn’t give up a TD. I honestly believe that the last 2 games against Pittsburgh are ultimately why the Chiefs chose to move on from Alex Smith and draft Patrick Mahomes a year ago, and hand him the reigns in year 2. Alex Smith did A LOT of great things for Kansas City; however, the one thing he could not do was get the Chiefs over the hurdle that was the Pittsburgh Steelers, Patrick Mahomes just did that. Here is a side by side comparison of the Chiefs quarterbacking performances the last 2 years against Pittsburgh.
As you can see, Chiefs quarterbacks against the Steelers the last 2 seasons. In the Alex Smith game, 24 of the 34 passes attempted were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, 6 of them behind the line entirely. 7 of those passes fell incomplete. Mahomes had a better completion percentage on those shorter throws, but the #1 thing that stands out to me about the 2 graphics you see to the left. The the throws of 20+ Yards. Alex threw just 3 of them, 1 of which resulted in a touchdown catch. Patrick threw 7 of them, 3 of which resulted in touchdowns. Additionally, Patrick completed 2 more that didn’t immediately cross the goal line, but put them in position to cross it. The stark difference between these 2 graphics from NFL’s Nextgen Stats, are a visual representation of the differences in mind-sets between these 2 quarterbacks. Andy Reid’s offense was always meant to be a vertical, big play style offense. Patrick Mahomes gives this offense a dimension it was deficient in with Alex Smith under center. It also takes advantage of the fact, that the Chiefs have quite possibly, the fastest receiving corps in the NFL. Not just Tyreek, Chris Conley, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, DeAnthony Thomas…all of those guys can throw on the after burners at will. This is the true and honest reason that the Chiefs were able to go to Pittsburgh and pull out the win for the first time since 1986. This is why the Chiefs were finally able to get that proverbial monkey off of their backs. Patrick Mahomes is very very special. He’s the real deal at the quarterback position. Those 2 things were speculation 2 weeks ago, they were feelings and hunches, now they have become facts. There really hasn’t been a more exciting time to be a Chiefs fan.
All that being said, there were still some major red flags coming from the defense. The Chiefs got up in this game by 21 points, and the defense gave all 21 of them back just as quickly as the offense scored them. The Chiefs did not get pressure on Big Ben very much at all. Roethisberger had time to throw, and he gashed the Chiefs for 452 yards and 3 TDs, plus a rushing TD. In 2 weeks the Chiefs defense has given up nearly 900 yards passing (876 to be exact), and 6 passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. Now granted, those 2 QBs were Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, both future Hall of Famers; but that is still unacceptable. The Chiefs secondary has looked as porous as a kitchen strainer the first couple of weeks. The best hope that Chiefs fans had for this defense was that with a healthy Justin Houston and a healthy Dee Ford, the pass rush would be better and that would make the secondary better because they’d have to cover for less time. Through 2 weeks, that hasn’t worked out at all. The pass rush has been non-existent and because of that, the secondary is getting carved up. The 49ers do not have a future hall of fame quarterback, and do not have the most lethal of offensive weapons. On paper, this could be the week the defense makes a statement. If they fail to do so however, that will be the ultimate tale of how far this team is capable of going.
It’s the home opener at Arrowhead this week. Chiefs Radio Network coverage starts at 11 AM on Topeka’s Rock Leader V100 with kickoff scheduled for noon. Chiefs vs 49ers. Let’s keep the train rolling!