KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For only the seventh time in his NFL career, a Patrick Mahomes-led offense scored fewer than 20 points during Sunday’s loss at Indianapolis.
Mahomes has started 77 career games for the Kansas City Chiefs, including the playoffs, but Sunday was only his third, with a remade wide-receiving corps.
Much of the offseason was spent dissecting the Tyreek Hill trade and the subsequent moves General Manager Brett Veach made to replenish the roster’s weapons on the outside.
Mahomes and his new targets, most notably JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, got off to a sizzling start at Arizona and did enough to outlast the Los Angeles Chargers in their home opener.
But Kansas City’s offense felt stuck in the mud against a Colts defense that blitzed only twice on 36 drop backs.
“We’ve got to gel all together,” Mahomes said. “It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of them. There were certain situations where we were just barely off.”
He specifically noted a pass with a defender at his feet that came up a few inches short to Justin Watson and his final throw, which he thought should have been further in front of Smith-Schuster, but instead was tipped and intercepted.
Perhaps no missed opportunity was bigger than overthrowing Valdes-Scantling on the offense’s opening drive when the former Green Bay deep threat had a step on the defense.
“I’ve got to hit that, especially in games like this,” Mahomes said. “If I hit that throw, it’s probably a whole different ball game.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who said the play-calling is ultimately his responsibility, appreciated Mahomes’ accountability, but he also took his share.
“Inevitably, it's my responsibility to make sure the right things get in at the right times,” Reid said. “That comes strictly on to me ... We’ve got to get the guys into a rhythm. I didn’t think that took place yesterday. It was spurt-y at best.”
Mahomes tried to head off an early-season lull by gathering the skill position players, old and new, in Texas last spring to build camaraderie and chemistry. He’s not using the roster turnover as an excuse for the recent struggles to put points on the board.
“I don’t expect any growing pains,” Mahomes said. “You obviously have new players, and you don’t know how everybody’s going to respond in tough situations. So, you know we can learn from it, but I’m always going out there with the expectation that we’re going to win.”
Special teams also had a rough day in Indianapolis, while defensive tackle Chris Jones’ fourth-quarter unsportsmanlike penalty largely overshadowed an otherwise sterling performance by the defense.
But Mahomes put the loss squarely on his shoulders along with the rest of the offense, given the uncharacteristically unproductive performance, and vowed that things would change.
“We obviously aren’t playing the way we wanted to these last two weeks on offense, but we’ve been battling,” Mahomes said. “... If the defense plays like they’re playing right now, I have full trust the offense is going to figure it out. That’s the positive I see in this game.”
Kansas City is scheduled to play in Tampa Bay next. Kickoff is set for 7:20 p.m. from Raymond James Stadium on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, which can be seen on KSHB 41, but Hurricane Ian could change those plans.
Whenever the game is played, Mahomes and company know the path forward only gets harder.
“Whenever you’re playing a tough game like that, you have to execute at a higher level,” Mahomes said. “We have to learn from it. Our schedule gets no easier. We have to go to a hard game, Sunday Night Football in Tampa next week with a great defense, so we have to get better quickly.”
Fewest points, Patrick Mahomes as starting QB
Want more insight about the Kansas City Chiefs? The “4th & 1” podcast is the twice-weekly, Chiefs-centric podcast from KSHB 41 News, the official broadcast “Home of the Chiefs.” Analyst Nick Jacobs and host Tod Palmer analyze and breakdown the Chiefs’ opponent and performance for pre- and post-game episodes — available on iTunes, Spotify, Omny or your preferred podcast platform — each week during the season.