Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes felt the pressure late in the first half Sunday afternoon. So he escaped the pocket, rolled left toward the sideline and threw accurately across his body to tight end Travis Kelce, streaking across the middle of the field for an uncanny 23-yard completion.
“We couldn’t execute because we weren’t running the plays the right way and I wasn’t finding the right reads,” Mahomes said. “That carried over, and we obviously didn’t play the second half like we wanted.”
The reigning Super Bowl MVP’s wizardry was nullified by the Raiders in the second half, resulting in three consecutive punts, an interception and uncharacteristic ineptitude from one of the NFL’s best offenses.
Mahomes was indeed magical in the first half, throwing for 237 yards and a touchdown while adding a scrambling rushing score.
But during the second half, the broken plays on which the Chiefs so often score were nothing more than missed opportunities.Mahomes finished 22 of 43 for 340 yards, two TDs and the interception, his first of the season.
“It’s a learning lesson. If you don’t play your best football, you lose football games in this league,” Mahomes said, “We didn’t play our best football.”
Credit the Raiders, because Mahomes and the Chiefs certainly did.
The Raiders revived their pass rush, forcing him out of the pocket and limiting his ability to scan the field and find the likes of Kelce and speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill downfield.
The Raiders’ secondary has struggled all season, but blanketed Kansas City’s receivers until a two-score lead allowed it to relax late in the fourth quarter.
“They improved, and you saw it today,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We weren’t able to move the ball very well. … It didn’t work, what we were calling.”
The result is the end of Kansas City’s 13-game winning streak, dating to last November and including the postseason. Mahomes had never lost to the Raiders, having accumulated 1,194 passing yards and 11 TDs against one interception in his first four starts against his team’s longtime rival.
He’s normalized the spectacular and has thrown a TD in 15 consecutive games, marking the longest active streak in the NFL. And his 20th 300-yard passing game is the fourth-most by a quarterback in his first four NFL seasons.
But for the first time this season, he didn’t play well enough to secure a victory.
On now to the Buffalo Bills.
“We played one bad quarter, but when you’re playing a team as hot as they are, that’s enough to lose a football games,” said Mahomes, who completed 8 of 16 passes in the second half for 106 yards and a late score to Kelce.
“We’ve got to go back and really look at ourselves in the mirror. Me at quarterback. And really not rely on these crazy plays where I’m scrambling around and throwing these shots and just execute the offense the way it’s called and the way it’s supposed to be run. If we do that, we’ll be a hard team to stop.”