By Matt Derrick
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It couldn’t have surprised anyone at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday that when Tyreek Hill took to the field for the first time in four weeks that the ball would come to him on the first play out of the gate.
Hill and Patrick Mahomes didn’t connect on that first home run ball, but they did team up on five catches for 80 yards and and two touchdowns, yet in the end it wasn’t enough as the Chiefs fell to the Houston Texans 31-24.
Probably the only positive for head coach Andy Reid on Sunday came from getting Hill back from injury.
“It was good to get him back out there,” Reid said. “That was a positive, to have him back out there and come out healthy.”
Indeed, Hill provided an immediate spark for the Chiefs from the get-go. The Chiefs march down the field in a six-play, 91-yard drive that finished with a 46-yard touchdown strike from Mahomes to Hill.
A false start and an offensive holding penalty left the Chiefs facing third-and-21 at the Houston 46-yard line. The Texans just offsides, and Mahomes knew he had a free play.
“We had an offside play, and instead of going for maybe trying to get the goal range, know I had the free play, I put it up there for Tyreek and he made a great play.”
Texans cornerback Phillip Gaines, a former Chiefs teammate of Hill’s, trailed the receiver, and safety Justin Reid tracked the ball looking for an interception. Hill skied between the two defenders, snatching the ball from the grasp of Reid and fighting his way into the end zone.
Hill said he just wanted to make a play for his quarterback.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to make him look the best,” Hill said. “That’s my dog, that’s my boy, so if he throws it up, I tell each and everyone of the receivers that’s our ball, it don’t matter if it’s five people around, four or one, we’re going to get the ball.”
With Hill out of the lineup, defenses in recent weeks began playing more man defense against the Chiefs. The Texans didn’t want to leave Hill isolated, putting Justin Reid over the top of the receiver much of the game.
“To his credit, he’s an athletic dude,” Justin Reid said of Hill. “He’s fast, athletic. We made it a part of the game plan. I was leaning into him the whole game.”
Hill’s leaping catch didn’t surprise Mahomes at all.
“That guy can jump out of a gym if you’ve ever seen him dunking, Mahomes said of the 5-foot-10 Hill. “He can jump there and make plays. It’s good to have him back. He played well today, and he will keep getting more and more into the offense as we keep getting him back.”
Even Chiefs defenders said seeing Hill back on the Hill provided a spark for the whole squad. Frank Clark forced a fumble on Houston’s first offensive play of the game following Hill’s touchdown. The Chiefs banked a 17-3 lead at the end of the first quarter behind Hill’s three catches for 66 yards.
Linebacker Darron Lee said it was great to see Hill back in the lineup.
“I know he’s happy and been anxious to get back out there, so it’s good to see him do his thing,” Lee said. “It’s like watching a video game in real life.”
The euphoria, however, didn’t last long. The Texans rallied in the second quarter to assume a 23-17 lead at halftime. Hill and Mahomes hooked up one more time for a 6-yard touchdown score with 6:30 left to put the Chiefs back up front 24-23.
The Texans took control after that point, playing keep away from the Chiefs. Kansas City ran just six plays and netted only 2 yards over the final 21 1/2 minutes of the game. Hill couldn’t explain what happened in the second half.
“I’m just out there running my routes, doing my thing,” Hill said. “That’s what I tell my guys, control what we can control, so that’s what we do.”
And Reid said he wanted to get Hill back in the swing of the game while recognizing the Chiefs have a quick turnaround before traveling to Denver for a Thursday night meeting with the Broncos. Hill said he didn’t feel limited in any way on Sunday.
“I’m just happy,” Hill said. “Limited, full, I don’t care. As long as I’m out there with my brothers, it don’t matter.”
The loss leaves the Chiefs atop the AFC West with a record of 4-2. The second-place Oakland Raiders are on a bye week, which means the Chiefs will maintain a one-half game lead heading to Denver. Hill expects the Chiefs to bounce back from the adversity that comes from dropping back-to-back games at home.
“We’re the Chiefs, that’s what we do,” Hill said. “We got the MVP quarterback, the best tight end in the league, the best offensive line in the league my opinion, so we’re just going to keep building off that.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and a contributor for Sports Radio 810 WHB. Follow him on Twitter @mattderrick.