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Chiefs pluck Cardinals in desert for 8th straight season-opening win

Patrick Mahomes throws for 360 yards, 5 touchdowns
Chiefs Cardinals Football
Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 11, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No Tyreek Hill, no problem.

The revamped Kansas City Chiefs offense didn’t miss a beat in its first game since trading Hill to Miami during the offseason.

"Guys were ready to go," quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "They were excited to get out there and show what we had. ... We've always believed we were going to go out there and put on a show."

The Chiefs’ remade receiving corps caught 14 passes for 169 yards, including a touchdown, from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw five touchdowns in a season-opening 44-21 rout Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Kansas City, which has won six straight AFC West titles and hosted an NFL-record four consecutive AFC Championship Games, didn’t appear to have missed a beat in demolishing an Arizona squad that made the playoffs last season.

“The receivers working with Pat, we all wanted to see, and we got to see that at full speed,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

It was the Chiefs’ franchise-record eighth straight season-opening victory.

Mahomes finished 30 of 39 for 360 yards, his 32nd career 300-yard game in 64 regular-season games.

The Chiefs’ 44 points were the third-most in a season-opener in franchise history and the eighth time the club has scored at least 40 in its first game of the season.

A 59-7 win at Denver to open the 1963 season and a 47-27 win at New Orleans to kick off 1985 are the only times Kansas City has scored more than Sunday’s opener.

The Chiefs also scored 40-plus in 1962, 1966, 2002, 2017 and 2019.

Tight end Travis Kelce recorded the 30th 100-yard receiving game of his career to power the offense. He finished with a team-high in catches (eight) and yards (121), including the game’s first touchdown.

But the receivers were productive, too.

Newcomer JuJu Smith-Schuster had six catches for 79, all in the first half, while fellow newcomer Marquez Valdes-Scantling had four catches for 44 yards.

Rookie Skyy Moore showed his elusiveness with a 30-yard catch and run, while the lone wide-receiver holdover — Mecole Hardman Jr. — had the only touchdown in the group.

Mahomes’ fifth scoring strike — a mark he’s reached six times in his career already, which is already tied for fourth-most in NFL history — when to Hardman late in the third quarter and put the Chiefs up 37-7 at the time.

The running backs got involved as well with Clyde Edwards-Helaire catching two touchdowns for the first time in his career and rookie Isiah Pacheco plowing into the end zone on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter for his first career touchdown.

Pacheco finished with a team-high 62 yards on 12 carries, most of that coming in the fourth quarter when he was used as the hammer to pound in the final nails in the Cardinals’ coffin.

Kansas City’s defense also performed well, including a young secondary, allowing only 282 total yards. Arizona finished only 3 of 12 on third down an didn't commit a turnover.

“We played OK,” defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “We missed a lot of missed opportunities, but overall I think we got better as a group. … Overall, I’d give it a C+.”

Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and veteran free-agent addition Carlos Dunlap both sacked Kyle Murray, while linebacker Nick Bolton totaled a team-best 10 tackles.

Sneed added eight tackles.

Despite a rash of first-half injuries, the Chiefs led 23-7 at halftime.

Mahomes suffered a left wrist injury on his first touchdown pass, a 9-yard dime to a leaping Kelce on the sideline in the end zone.

Pressure from former Mizzou star Markus Golden forced Mahomes to land awkwardly as he fell down while back-peddling.

Mahomes later added a pair of touchdowns to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a 3-yarder in the first quarter and a 4-yarder in the second to answer a Cardinals touchdown.

After Harrison Butker sprained his ankle and left the game, safety Justin Reid converted an extra point on Edwards-Helaire’s first score, but Reid missed the second try for a 20-7 lead.

"We might need to talk about putting some incentives in there," said Justin Reid, who finished with four tackles in his Chiefs debut, about his kicking prowess.

Butker returned late in the first half and drilled an improbable 54-yard field goal — the 21st of his NFL career, breaking a tie with Nick Lowery for the Chiefs’ franchise record for field goals from 50-plus yards.

"As impressive as everyone likes to say a safety kicking is, how about Harrison taking one step and kicking a 50-plus-yard field goal," Justin Reid said. "That was unbelievable, and I know a little bit about kicking. That was absolutely unbelievable for him to be able to step up through that, grind through the pain, take one step and drive it home."

Right guard Trey Smith also left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

Rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury and wide receiver Justin Watson (chest) also got hurt in the second half.