KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the Kansas City Chiefs take the field next week, the team will be in an unfamiliar position during the Patrick Mahomes era.
After back-to-back turnover-filled losses, the Chiefs are below .500 and sit dead last in the AFC West standings.
It’s the first time Mahomes will start a game for a team with a losing record in his NFL career. The last time he played for a team with a losing record was his senior season at Texas Tech.
In fact, Mahomes had never started a game without the Chiefs being at least tied for first place in the division until Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, who took advantage of four Chiefs turnovers in a 30-24 win on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We have a long season ahead of us,” Mahomes said. “It looks real dim right now, but if you can find a way to get better from this and find a way to win these games at the end of games, we’ll be where we want to [be] at the end of the season.”
Kansas City has reached the AFC Championship Game in each of Mahomes’ first three years as a starter, including Super Bowl appearances the last two seasons.
That remains the goal, but it won’t happen without reigning in the turnover struggles — the Chiefs committed four against the Chargers, including one on the first three drives — and consistency from the defense.
“Obviously, everybody’s — I’m not going to say down, but everybody’s not happy with how we played,” Mahomes said. “When you take a loss to a division opponent at home, it’s not usually a good thing. We haven’t done that a lot in my time here, so it’s how you respond.”
Mahomes is 15-4 in his career against AFC West teams after Sunday’s loss, including a 6-3 record at home.
He isn’t the only one feeling the pressure of two losses in the first three weeks but also striking an upbeat note.
“This is unusual for us,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “To be honest, I think it’s a bit of a crossroads for us.”
Toub, who also serves as assistant head coach, spoke with reporters after head coach Andy Reid was taken from Arrowhead Stadium by ambulance after the game with an undisclosed illness.
Reid spoke with the team after the game before being taken for medical treatment as a precaution, according to media reports.
It presents one more challenge for the Chiefs to deal with in the effort to right the ship.
”I think our guys — we’ve got great leadership, and our guys are going to battle back,” Toub said. “Our guys are going to battle back strong. We’re going to have a great week of practice, and we’re going to clean it up. We’re going to clean up the turnovers, execute on the offensive side of the ball, create turnovers and get stops on defense, be solid on special teams and we’ll get back on track.”
Mahomes, who seemed tempered but not angry in his postgame remarks, seemed determined to extend the Chiefs’ AFC West dominance despite Sunday’s loss.
“I think we’ll be ready for the challenge,” Mahomes said. “It’s really early in the season. Obviously, we haven’t had any of these since I’ve been playing quarterback here where we’re behind all these teams in our division, but the bright spot is we’ve got a long season to go. It’s just going to be how we respond and how we go to work every day.”