Kansas City overcame a slow start to hang on to a 33-31 win over Carolina heading into their week 10 bye.
The Chiefs’ ceiling is immeasurable with quarterback Patrick Mahomes at the helm, and coach Andy Reid feels that this is the best Mahomes has played in his young, exciting career.
“You are seeing the best of him right now, and some of it you might not see, the things he does behind the scenes,” Reid said. “We have full confidence that he will do what he needs to do to win a game.”
Mahomes was the main reason the Chiefs won this game, throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowns. This performance was much needed from the signal caller because quite frankly, Kansas City’s defense was sub-par for much of the afternoon. Despite losing the time of possession battle 38 minutes to 22 minutes, the Chiefs were able to score bunches of points in short spurts. Another reason the Chiefs had to lean on Mahomes this game was because the run game was non-existent. Kansas City attempted four rushes in the first half, and rarely ran the ball again in the second half. Running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell combined for 22 yards on nine rushing attempts.
Carolina began the game with a nine-minute drive, gashing the Chiefs’ suspect run defense. Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffery made his long-awaited return from a high ankle sprain that he sustained in week two against Tampa Bay. McCaffery picked up where he left off before the injury, accumulating 34 yards on Carolina’s first possession, including a nine-yard receiving touchdown to cap off the drive. The Chiefs would respond with a field goal to reduce the deficit 7-3 heading into the second quarter.
The Panthers second drive seemed to be stopped at their own 45 yard line, but Carolina blindsided the Chiefs with a fake punt that resulted in a 28-yard gain. McCaffery continued to be the focal point for Carolina’s offensive gameplan, and he opened up the play-action pass for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater capitalized on the fake punt with a 14-yard touchdown pass to gadget-receiver Curtis Samuel to increase Carolina’s lead 14-3 early in the second quarter. Kansas City would respond with another underwhelming three points. The Chiefs were down 14-6 five minutes into the second quarter.
Kansas City’s defense finally made their first stop of the game halfway through the second quarter, forcing the Panthers to punt the ball to Kansas City’s potent offense. Mahomes then looked to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the Chiefs’ next drive, taking what the defense gave them. Kelce and Hill combined for 57 receiving yards on the drive before Mahomes connected with Demarcus Robinson on a one-yard touchdown, cutting the Panther’s lead down to one point. However, on the next drive, Bridgewater dissected Kansas City’s defense, and led the Panthers to a field goal, giving Carolina a 17-13 lead at halftime.
To begin the second half, the Chiefs attempted to incorporate Bell into the offense with a couple of runs and receptions. Nonetheless, Kelce continued to make his presence known with 43 yards on the second half’s opening drive. But the Chiefs would settle for another field goal attempt. Unfortunately, Harrison Butker continued his multi-game slump and missed the kick. The Chiefs’ drive was for nothing, and left the team down 17-13. Carolina returned the favor with a missed field goal of their own, and they gave the Chiefs strong field position at Kansas City’s 41-yard line.
Mahomes and the offense did not hesitate to take advantage of Carolina’s miscues. Kansas City was faced with a quick 3rd & 7, but Mahomes went to his safety net in Kelce and hit the superstar tight end for a 44-yard gain. Mahomes added his second touchdown pass on the day when he found Edwards-Helaire in the flat for a four-yard score. This gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game, 20-17. After forcing the Panthers to punt, Kansas City held the three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, the Chiefs increased their lead to nine when Mahomes found Hill open for a 28-yard touchdown on blown coverage. After another extra point from Butker, the Chiefs went up 26-17 just seconds into the fourth quarter. The Panthers quickly responded with a touchdown run by Bridgewater, reducing Kansas City’s lead 26-24. The fourth quarter shootout continued when the Chiefs orchestrated a seven-play drive that concluded with another Mahomes-Hill connection, this time on a two-yard out route. Kansas City led 33-24 with a little over seven minutes left in regulation.
The Panthers continued to claw at Kansas City’s lead with another touchdown drive, where McCaffery scored his second touchdown of the day on a one-yard run. The Chiefs were suddenly in jeopardy of losing the game to a field goal in regulation due to Butker’s missed extra point earlier in the fourth. Kansas City’s offense went predictable and conservative on their next drive, running the ball and throwing quick screens to force Carolina to use all three of their timeouts. When the Panthers got the ball back, they struggled to find their way down the field in enough time to attempt a realistic field goal, and instead settled for a 67-yard kick that sailed wide right as time expired.
Outside of Mahomes and his spectacular performance, the Chiefs top two weapons, Kelce and Hill, were the story of this game. Kelce caught 10 passes for 159 yards, while Hill brought in nine catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Mahomes’ four touchdown passes brought him to 25 touchdowns and one interception for the year, putting himself among the top contenders for the league’s MVP award.
Kansas City will go into their bye week with an 8-1 record before traveling to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders in week 11 on Nov. 22 at 7:20 p.m.