CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes’ first Week 1 start could not have gone any better. The second-year quarterback became the third player in Chiefs’ history to throw for four touchdowns in an opener.
Before Kansas City fans begin running wild with Mahomes mania, though, coach Andy Reid and Mahomes are quick to point out there are still plenty of things to work on.
“I thought he did a nice job. He has things that he has to work on, like everybody, and he knows it,” Reid said after the Chiefs’ 38-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. “This will be a great learning tool for him as he evaluates the tape. He made plays, he did it with his legs, he did it throwing, he did it with checks.”
Mahomes, who was the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft, was 15 of 27 for 256 yards as he improved to 2-0 in his career as a starter.
Mahomes began strong, completing all three passes on his first drive, including a 58-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill on what was originally a run play with a pass option. He went 4 of 11 the rest of the first half as many of his passes sailed high.
In the second half, he settled in and directed touchdowns on 3 of 6 drives. Mahomes was 8 of 13 for 125 yards and three touchdowns passing after halftime.
Mahomes said extending possessions will be an area of focus when preparations begin for next Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.
“I feel like we left a lot out there. We scored on some big plays but sustaining drives and executing wherever we need to execute is something I think we need to keep working on as we go throughout the rest of the season,” he said.
MORE DANGEROUS HILL?
Hill’s speed and big-play ability as a returner and receiver already keep opposing coaches up at night. Defensive coordinators may have even more to worry about though as Mahomes said the third-year receiver has really improved his route running.
“I think today has showed that he has improved in his part and has the speed to bring it any time,” Mahomes said.
On his 58-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to give the Chiefs a 14-3 lead, Hill ran a well-timed slant to the middle of the field and then eluded a diving tackle attempt by Jahleel Addae as he found a seam up the left sideline.
“I just have to run my route and be there. There’s a certain spot on the field that I have to be and he’s going to throw it there every time. Then after that, it’s history,” said Hill, who finished with seven receptions for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
TOUR DE RIVERS
Despite two turnovers that led to 14 Kansas City points and giving up a punt return for a touchdown, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers wasn’t concentrating on an 0-1 start but was focusing on the big picture of the rest of the season.
“I’m not much of a cycling fan, but I compare the NFL season to the Tour de France. It’s all those stages, and that’s what the NFL season is to me,” said Rivers, who was 34 of 51 for 424 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. “There’s 16 stages you get, and you dang sure better win your fair share of them, but it’s a long deal, and we’re down after the first stage, and we’ve got a chance in Buffalo to get a win and get to 1-1.”
Rivers doesn’t want to see the Chargers fall too far back of the AFC playoff peloton. The Chargers won nine of their final 12 games last season but missed the playoffs due to an 0-4 start.
INJURIES OF NOTE
Chiefs: LB Ben Niemann injured his hamstring. Reid said he did not know the severity of the injury and said it was likely going to be week-to-week. S Eric Berry made the trip but was inactive due to a heel injury.
Chargers: RT Joe Barksdale was carted off after injuring his right knee during the first quarter and did not return. Coach Anthony Lynn said he did not know the severity of the injury. Sam Tevi took Barksdale’s place on the offensive line. Lynn also said DT Joey Bosa, who was inactive for the game, remains week-to-week with a foot injury.
Kansas City has a nine-game winning streak over the Chargers, which is the longest in the 116-game rivalry dating to the American Football League.
However, it is not the Chiefs’ longest streak against an AFC West foe. They won 11 straight over Denver from 1964 to ’69.