By Matt Derrick
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two games away from action didn’t seem to slow Patrick Mahomes, as the Chiefs quarterback turned in a sizzling highlight-reel performance despite the team’s 35-32 loss to the Tennessee Titans Sunday.
Mahomes completed 36-of-50 passing for 446 yards and three touchdowns, reporting no ill effects from the dislocated right knee that sideline him for the last two games.
“The knee’s feeling fine, just how as we expected going into the game,” Mahomes said. “A credit to those trainers and the training staff getting me ready to play. But the knee feels fine, and I was glad to get through another game.”
Mahomes emerging healthy served as one of the lone bright spots out of the game for head coach Andy Reid.
“He did some good things,” Reid said. “He came out healthy. He’ll tell you the same thing, we’ve all got to do a little bit better, but I was happy with the things that he did for the most part.”
The Chiefs offense opened the game with Mahomes rolling out to his right and delivering a deep ball for receiver Tyreek Hill nearly intercepted by Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro. After that near disaster, Mahomes settled into a groove using the offense’s run-pass options, screen passes and other quick throws to move the ball in building an early 10-0 advantage.
“That was the game plan,” Mahomes said. “They played a lot of shell coverage, so we were just taking what they gave us, and there was a lot of underneath guys open, and so I was trying to get the ball to them and move the chains. It just kind of kept the offense going.”
Mahomes said he didn’t have any doubts entering the game about his right knee or ability to make the plays he needed to make in – and out – of the pocket.
“I trusted in those guys, the doctors and the training staff, when they told me I was ready to go,” Mahomes said. “Obviously you want to get out there, get hit just to get yourself settled into the game. I had full confidence I was going to be able to play this game.”
Mahomes said the rest even helped his left ankle, which he sprained in the season opener against Jacksonville and re-tweaked a few times in the following games.
“We knew we needed rest for the ankle, we knew we needed some days off,” Mahomes said. “With having the knee, I got to rest that ankle and I was able to play and do what I could do and I don’t have any pain there.”
Any doubts remaining about Mahomes’ health disappeared in the fourth quarter. On a third-and-nine from the Kansas City 37-yard line, Mahomes stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush and jumped in the air before absorbing a hit from linebacker Cameron Wake.
“I actually work a little bit with (quarterbacks) coach (Mike) Kafka and in the offseason of kind of throwing it and getting your hip through,” Mahomes said of the jump pass. “That’s another big part of how I get a lot of torque on my ball.”
The gunslinger delivered a strike 20-yards down field to Mecole Hardman, who took the ball the rest of the way for a 63-yard touchdown that put the Chiefs up 29-20 with 12:04 to play in the game.
“Mecole ran a great route, I had to throw it before he even broke, and he ran it exactly how I wanted him to, and that comes with repetition,” Mahomes said. “Once you get the ball in those guys’ hands, they can make plays happen.”
Hardman didn’t see Mahomes make the jump. He didn’t even see the ball until it was in the air, but said it doesn’t surprise him for Mahomes to make such as throw.
“That’s Pat Mahomes,” Hardman said. “I think that’s all you got to say. He’s Pat. That’s what he does, he maneuvers in the pocket, he can get out of the pocket, he can make throws that people can’t make.”
Receiver Tyreek Hill, who caught a career-high 11 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown, came to a similar conclusion.
“That’s just Pat being Pat, once again,” Hill said. “He should have no-looked it. That would have been crazy.”
Mahomes coming back and delivering another show-stopping performance after an ugly knee injury impressed Hill.
“It was amazing to see him out there having fun, playing the game he loves,” Hill said. “It was amazing having him back out there.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and a contributor for Sports Radio 810 WHB. Follow him on Twitter @mattderrick.