KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce went scorched earth in the first half Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Mahomes dodged blitzes, ducked defenders, threw for first downs as he was tackled and hit real-life spin moves better than any pro-Madden player in an entertaining performance, helping Kelce make some NFL history along the way.
The result: The Kansas City Chiefs took control almost from the opening kickoff and never trailed in a 41-31 bounce-back win, crushing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a rematch of Super Bowl LV.
“That’s a great defense, a great team, led by the best quarterback of all-time,” Mahomes said. “So, to come to their house and find a way to score some points and find a way to win, it hopefully gets you kick-started into the rest of this year.”
Kansas City (3-1), which got crushed 31-9 in that Super Bowl two years ago, rebounded from last week’s loss at Indianapolis to move alone into first place in the AFC West.
“You can throw it all together, man,” said Kelce, who moved into fifth place all-time among NFL tight ends in career receiving yards. “There was a sour taste in our mouth from last week and from the last time we were down here in Tampa. I’m going to put both of those behind me at this point. We’re here now, and we’re going to roll with this momentum and how well we played today.”
Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs have now faced Tom Brady-led teams six times. The series is split 3-3 with Mahomes’ side having won three of four regular-season matchups.
“I feel like I’ve had the last game against Tom Brady like four times now,” Mahomes, who finished 23 of 37 for 249 yards with three touchdowns and a fourth-quarter interception, said. “Until he is not on the field when I step on the field, I’m not going to believe this is my last game against him.”
The breaks came early and often for the Chiefs.
Bucs returner specialist Rachaad White fumbled the opening kickoff when Chris Lammons poked the ball free and Elijah Lee recovered the loose ball.
Lee is a Blue Springs graduate, while White is a Kansas City, Missouri, native, who graduated from Center. White atoned in the fourth quarter with his first career touchdown on a 1-yard dive.
But two plays after White’s miscue, Kelce got free on a hesitation route for the game’s first touchdown.
Tampa Bay answered with a field goal, but Kansas City quickly added two more touchdowns — both by Clyde Edwards-Helaire — for a 21-3 lead.
“We know teams don’t want to see us up,” Kelce, who finished with nine catches for 92 yards, said. “We’ve got a great offense, stellar defense and special teams unit. We get up on teams, they start to feel that pressure of trying to climb back. Once we start fast and get that rhythm, I really feel like we’re unstoppable. We’ve got to keep that momentum going.”
The latter was perhaps the most-spectacular 2-yard touchdown in NFL history.
“That one wasn’t in the playbook,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I can’t remember what the play was, I was so excited about that one. But it wasn’t going to the back — not that way, at least.”
Mahomes outran defensive end Patrick O’Connor at the 14-yard line, spun off Devin White at the 5, then flipped a half-leaping touchdown pass over two more defenders at the line of scrimmage.
“We rolled out and they did a good job of coming up field and not going on that dive play that we always run with (fullback Michael) Burton,” Mahomes said. “But I was able to use my speed — uh, little bit of speed — to get around the edge there.”
He said he planned to run for the pylon, but the spin off White slowed him too much and he decided to look to throw it again.
“Once I spun, I realized that Clyde was open,” Mahomes said.
Brady tossed a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to Mike Evans, including a fade 10 seconds before halftime, sandwiched around another Kansas City TD.
Mahomes put his acting skills, which also were on display with a new State Farm commercial that featured coach Andy Reid, to use on that score.
He was gesturing to the left as tight end Noah Gray came in motion, went under center and snuck the ball for a 1-yard touchdown run.
That drive was set up by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed’s sack and forced fumble when he blindsided Brady.
"It felt good," Sneed said with a laugh.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones recovered the fumble.
"The guys on the back end disguise it well, so I try to show it late because I know Tom Brady's going to pick it up," said Sneed, who led the Chiefs with nine tackles and leads the team with three sacks on the season.
Tampa Bay only had three yards rushing on six carries after abandoning the ground game after Kansas City built its early lead.
“I thought we tackled well and we executed the game plan,” Reid said. “Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) and the coaches put a lot of time into that, the players believed in it and they executed it. Against Tom and that crew that they have, you’ve got to be spot on.”
The Chiefs still haven’t run a QB sneak with Mahomes in 1,081 days since he dislocated his knee on a similar play in a game at Denver in October 2019.
Kansas City led 28-17 at halftime and failed to score on only one drive.
Edwards-Helaire, who finished with 92 yards rushing on 19 carries, dropped a fourth-and-1 pass from Mahomes before the Chiefs allowed the Bucs’ first touchdown.
Fellow running back Isiah Pacheco added 11 carries for 63 yards in a dominant performance on the ground, 189 yards on 37 carries for a robust 5.1-yard average,
Kansas City opened the second half with a field-goal drive.
Matthew Wright was signed with Harrison Butker still sidelined by an ankle injury after Kansas City cut Matt Amendola on Monday. Ammendola played two games in Butker’s stead but struggled mightily in last Sunday’s loss at Indianapolis.
The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the third quarter with tight end Jody Fortson scoring on a 10-yard strike from Mahomes.
In the final minute of the period, White, a third-round pick from Arizona State last April, plowed into the end zone for his first career score.
Wright added a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Mahomes’ interception in the closing minutes led to Tampa Bay’s last touchdown after a 33-yard return by Sean Murphy-Bunting.
Leonard Fournette caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady with 3:30 left.
Kelce finished with nine catches for 92 yards, which moved him into fifth place all-time in receiving yards among NFL tight ends.