HC ANDY REID’S OPENING STATEMENT: “Really just the two injuries are Clyde (Edwards-Helaire), who hurt his shoulder, and we’ll just see how bad it is tomorrow, and then the Badger (Tyrann Mathieu) has a knee contusion, or a quad contusion I guess it is, so he came out too at the end there. My hat goes off to the fans. What a great job they did. Right from the coin flip on they were loud, so we appreciate all of that and more. I want to just mention (Elliott) Fry, the kicker, and then (Johnny) Townsend, the punter, for the job that they did. It’s never automatic, even with all the time spent with the center and the holder and the kicker. But these guys, they came out and did a great job of making it look easy. Not such an easy thing, but they really did a nice job. Offensively, defensively and special teams were all clicking. The coordinators, the coaches, the players were phenomenal, and that’s the way they were all week. They came out with great energy and just played their tail off. I could go from (Charvarius) Ward on down through—the one-handed interception was phenomenal—all the way through this thing. Pat (Mahomes) again having a good day, the defensive line having a great day, the secondary, the linebackers. Everybody kind of put it together and did great—the offensive line, wide receivers. So, it was a nice day all the way around against a good football team. You play a Mike Tomlin football team, you know it’s going to be full of grit and determination. So, our guys, I thought they did a nice job working with that today and we ended up coming out on the best end of the stick on this one. So, happy for everybody. Time’s yours.”
Q: What kind of prize is it to win another AFC West championship?
REID: “We don’t take any of those experiences for granted at all. I know we get a free t-shirt and a hat, but there’s a lot of sweat that goes into this—the effort, pushing through things that you normally don’t have to push through to get to work, both mentally and physically. So, I’m proud of our guys for how they handled it and I’m proud of the coaches for how they handled it. It’s a great honor, so we’ll enjoy it here for a day or two and then we’ve got to get on to a real good Cincinnati team next week.”
Q: Did you have to talk to Patrick Mahomes about the temptation to try to do too much with Travis Kelce out and Tyreek Hill limited this week?
REID: “It’s going to be underscored here, but this was one of his great games, and he only played two and a half quarters. But the way he was seeing things and handling himself out there against one of the better pass defenses in the National Football League, my hat goes off to him. But he never flinched. He wanted the guys there, I mean, those are two good football players, but he never flinched on it. He got in and he got work done during the week with the receivers that stepped in, so we were confident that if we didn’t have Tyreek and we didn’t have Kelce, then we’d still be efficient. Then, we had the run game too. Both runners I thought did a real nice job today. Really all three runners actually played well.”
Q: How big was it for a guy like Byron Pringle to have the game he had today?
REID: “I joke him all the time that we’re going to get a commercial going here for Pringles. I mean, he’s done a heck of a job. He had the one drop, but he was seven for eight, whatever that stat was, and just did a tremendous job there.”
Q: What do you think when you see a play like that when the offensive line buys time and Patrick Mahomes is patient to find the open receiver?
REID: “I love that like a big piece of prime rib. That’s how we get excited. When everybody’s working together, you’re tough to stop.”
Q: Was there any benefit this week to not worry about who’s catching the ball not knowing what numbers you would have out there?
REID: “Yeah, I thought the coaches did a nice job of putting it together that way. EB [Eric Bieniemy] heads that up and just keeping it real for the guys that had a chance to step in and play and play fast. So, he manages that whole thing, and when it starts feeling heavy, he backs off some things. The guys responded and did a nice job with it.”
Q: What do you credit such a seamless game with so many guys out?
REID: “The guys all played together, which I don’t think you can avoid talking about that, the team aspect of it. I was most proud of that part on both sides of the ball and special teams, supporting each other, and everything wasn’t perfect, but they supported each other when there was a problem, something didn’t work. Nobody was pointing fingers. Everybody just hung together, a real good team effort.”
Q: How much do you feel you’re hitting peak stride right now?
REID: “We played well today, but this league is so up and down right now that it’s crazy. You’ve got to be spot on every week. We’ve obviously got a lot riding here. Every game means something to us and we’ve got to be even sharper, keep increasing the play. We’re going to enjoy this one first and then start working on that.”
Q: How much did Patrick Mahomes’ comfort have to do with the confidence he’s gaining in the offensive line?
REID: “I think they all know each other better. That’s so important for a quarterback, just the little subtle movements in the pocket against a three-technique, things like that. So, how are you going to move yourself and still be able to make a viable throw for a receiver to catch and not hurry your feet, not knowing what the guys up front are going to do. He’s worked extremely hard on that. His relationship with those guys is unbelievable. Those guys have worked extremely hard on that with their consistency. A couple young guys in there and they’ve worked themselves through some of those rough early stretches and have done a real nice job. It’s been good that way.”
Q: What was it like to decide how much Tyreek Hill would play if he had the opportunity and how did you think it went with him?
REID: “I just tried to talk with him. During the game, EB [Eric Bieniemy] talked to him. We just wanted to keep the communication. Joe Bleymaier, who’s his coach, did the same thing even though he was upstairs. Connor [Embree] is downstairs working with him on the field. We try to keep open communication there and wanted him when he was playing to be as fresh as he could be for not having practiced all week. Listen, he’s a phenomenal athlete, not only speed and quickness, but also endurance. So, it knocked him down for a little bit, but he sure bounced back fast. My hat goes off to him.”
Chiefs Players Game Quotes
December 26, 2021
QB PATRICK MAHOMES
Q: Was there any benefit of not worrying about who to throw to, but just going with the flow?
MAHOMES: “Yeah I mean I don’t know if there’s any benefit from it. I think it was just we went through our reads the same way. We put guys in positions to succeed and they stepped up and made those plays happen. A lot of those routes sometimes are Tyreek (Hill) or Travis (Kelce) and they seem like they’re always making plays happen. We threw to guys like (Byron) Pringle), guys like Mecole (Hardman), guys like Noah (Gray) into those positions and they made plays happen and kind of filled that role the best they could.”
Q: Did you really not change your preparation with the chance that Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill might not play?
MAHOMES: “Not necessarily. I just went through my preparation like I usually would. In this league you’re not going to have every one of your guys every single week, so guys have to step up. That’s why we’ve built the receiving room, we’ve built the tight end room, we’ve built the running backs the way we’ve built it is so that whenever guys get opportunities, they can step up and make plays happen. I’m just going to go through the reads, I’m going to find the open guy and we have a lot of good players on this team that will make plays happen.”
Q: Do you still have an appreciation for winning the AFC West division?
MAHOMES: “I do 100 percent. This year as much as any. If you look at the AFC West, I mean every team is battling for a playoff spot. It’s a tough division that you have to go in with the mindset of we have to win the AFC West divisional games to get where we want to be at. To be able to win the AFC West, to be able to get that first goal – obviously like you said we have more goals that we want to go after, but this was the first one. To take this step, you got to build that momentum into the playoffs and try to make a run at it.”
Q: Did you have to fight the temptation to try not to do too much?
MAHOMES: “Not really, I think I fought that temptation this entire season. The defenses are playing us with these high shell coverages and they’re making us drive the length of the field and it’s kind of built us for these moments where we’ve had to drive the length of the field, put together long drives like we did in the first quarter and find a way to get a touchdown at the end of it. I think guys have accepted the challenge of it knowing that we still have the big strike offense that we’ve always had. If defenses are going to make us drive the length of the field we’re going to go through the offense and make it happen.”
Q: What do you think clicked in this game to where you were maybe feeling the game better?
MAHOMES: “I think it’s just continuing to try to get better and better. I feel like even in the last few games there’s throws here and there that I’ve been missing, and Coach (Andy) Reid’s been preaching with me to kind of work on the fundamentals and get back to who I know I can be. Today we had a good day of that, but we can’t be satisfied with that. We still have long way to go and I’m going to continue to work on those fundamentals to continue to try to be better and better. When the offensive line is blocking like they are, it makes it a little bit easier for you.”
Q: Can you explain how you know where you are on the field and know how much time you have before making throws at the line of scrimmage?
MAHOMES: “I was really almost getting ready to run, but at the last second I saw DG (Derrick Gore) kind of running down the sideline and just put it out there for him. I just tried to extend the play. I realize that I’m not the fastest guy so it’s usually a better option to give it to the fast guys and let them run. I can run and get first downs, but usually when you want touchdowns and big plays, you find a way to get it to those speed guys and they do a great job of getting themselves open.”
Q: How much different does it feel to work with this offensive line now versus at the beginning of the season?
MAHOMES: “Yeah I mean whenever you’re with a group of guys for that long, you understand what they’re doing and you get a feel for how they’re blocking guys, you get a feel for where the pocket is, where you can step up and find reset in the pocket to find another throw. I think they’ve gotten a feel for me. They understand how to change how they block versus how I drop. Obviously with those young guys in the middle there, they’ve gotten more and more reps and seen more and more stuff, so they’ve obviously gotten better and better. We have a ton of talented guys up there and it could be a real strength for us going into the playoffs.”
Q: What is it about Byron Pringle that allowed him to emerge as a big-time receiver?
MAHOMES: “I just think he plays really hard. At the end of the day, he just goes out there and he puts it all out there and he does what his job is. He understands his role in the offense and then whenever he needs to make a play, he makes plays. Another thing, he doesn’t get down on himself. If you look at the play, he almost made over the middle which would’ve been a heck of a catch and it seems like the next play he makes another play every single time. He’s a guy that loves football, over being out there and someone that will be a big part of our offense going forward.”
LB ANTHONY HITCHENS
Q: You’ve known nothing but AFC West Titles since you’ve been here. What does that accomplishment mean for you?
HITCHENS: “It means a lot. Anytime you want to get to your goals at the end of the year, this is the first step. This is the first step for our organization and our team. We’re not done, we’re not satisfied. We’ll enjoy this one tonight, like it was any other week and then it’s time to turn the page.”
Q: Did you notice anything different about Patrick (Mahomes) during the week or today at all?
HITCHENS: “Not really. Pat is always focused. I know early and even later in the week, he didn’t know if he was going to have all of his weapons or not. I’m not sure if that played a part or not. Pat’s always locked in and focused. That’s our guy, that’s our quarterback. I didn’t expect anything less from him.”
Q: How relentless have the front four guys been for you all as a defense? How is that leading to a better defense all around?
HITCHENS: “Our front four has been dominating. The more they dominate, the easier for everyone else. We can sit back in a two-high, we don’t have to bring eight guys in the box, we don’t have to pressure as much when those four guys are there. It’s actually about eight or nine of them because they rotate a lot. When those guys are dominating up front, it makes our job easier. We can sit back and play two deep and win games like this. When those guys are doing well, it definitely helps our defense and our team.”
Q: What do you think you learned about the coaching staff this week with not knowing who might be available today?
HITCHENS: “I don’t think it’s just coaches. At the end of the day, players have to play. There are a lot of guys that stepped in and did what they were supposed to do. I wouldn’t sit here and say it’s all coaches or all players. I think it’s a combination of everyone putting in the work to get this win. Some young guys played, some guys played out of position or multiple positions, but we came together as a team. It’s not really one thing or another, it’s more us as a team coming together and getting this win.”
WR BYRON PRINGLE
Q: What did you see on that first touchdown and how did you get open?
PRINGLE: “I was just bouncing in one spot. I went for a rollout right, and he went left and I just tried to get in the quarterback’s view. With Pat (Mahomes), you have to stay alive. That is what I did.”
Q: How did you mentally prepare yourself for this game not knowing who would be here?
PRINGLE: “Like coaches said, just get in the playbook and be ready to take advantage of your opportunity that comes your way. I was just trying to come out and put no pressure on myself and take advantage of my opportunities and play and have fun with it. That is why I am doing it.”
Q: What does this mean to you to have such a big game with having to work your way up from being undrafted to here?
PRINGLE: “I just know to never give up on yourself. Just keep working. Keep grinding. Don’t look at who is in front of you, who is behind you, or who is on side of you. You keep going day in and day out. That is my mentality. Just win.”
Q: How do you have such patience to wait and have this kind of game come to you?
PRINGLE: “I fish a lot and you never know when the fish are going to bite the bait. It teaches you patience. Just go in and grind and don’t look who is around you. As long as we get that W at the end of the game, that is all that matters to me as a player. As a teammate, as long as we win and execute the plan and I took advantage of the opportunity that was given to me. I am okay with it.”
Q: How is the overall mood in the locker room right now?
PRINGLE: “Man, we are pumped because you know the coaches put in a lot of hard work and hours and so did the players all season. I love when we come together as one and we keep succeeding and keep winning games every weekend. How we attack the week, and we go in with hard work. Just smiling and executing the plays.”
WR MECOLE HARDMAN
Q: What does it mean for the offense to rally and put out this performance knowing you were missing key players this week?
HARDMAN: “It’s just the next man up. I think we have plenty of talent in our receiving room. We have a great quarterback in Pat (Mahomes). We have great coaches. To us, filling those voids, those places, those spots on the field, we will do the best that we can so when a guy like Tavis (Kelce) goes down it’s the next man up and we go from there.”
Q: Can you describe how confident you were that you had scored on your close touchdown?
HARDMAN: “I felt like I was over the goal line, but it was close for sure. I really didn’t know for sure until I saw the official give me the touchdown. Overall, it was a touchdown, so it was good to get back in the endzone. It was a good play.”
Q: What led you to believe you were going to play so well when preparing this week?
HARDMAN: “Coming to practice knowing that Tyreek (Hill) might be out or Travis (Kelce) would be out, you have to take a different mindset and prepare better than you usually prepare. I think we went out there to practice this week and we were preparing the best way we can and just doing everything to prepare for the challenge ahead of us today. I think we took that challenge on very well and did the best we could do. We came out with a win.”
Q: How much does it mean to you to win the AFC West knowing that you started 3-4?
HARDMAN: “One of our goals on our list we want to accomplish, the first goal we want to accomplish is to always to win the AFC West. That’s what we did today. We have more goals we want to accomplish down the road. That is just one of the goals that we needed.”