QB PATRICK MAHOMES
What’s the general feeling out there after a game like that?
“Obviously we know we have a lot to work on, to clean up at least with the turnovers and the penalties, but you have to celebrate. We still won the AFC West, and you have to enjoy that. I told the guys to do that. Enjoy it for the plane ride home tonight. We’ve got a short week this next week, so enjoy it and we’ll get right back to it.”
There was a weird flow to the game. Did you feel that?
“Early it was for sure. After the first few drives, we got it going offensively a little bit. When you turn the ball over, it keeps changing games, and they play hard. They had some playmakers, and they play hard, and they’re well coached. If you give teams life like that, they’re going to make it a battle. You see it in the NFL. No matter what your record is, the margin of winning or losing is so small, and Coach Reid preaches that, and I’m just glad we found a way to win it in the end.”
What was your emotion when DE Frank Clark knocks the ball out and LB Willie Gay recovers it for you guys?
“That was a big play. That’s why we have guys like Frank (Clark) on the team. He’s a guy who makes big plays in big moments. That’s what he’s done in his entire career, especially when he’s here with the Chiefs. We punted and gave them a chance, and they make that big play, and Jet (RB Jerick McKinnon) kind of iced the game. You get those playmakers on your team, those leaders to make plays in big moments, and he did.”
Can you take us through that touchdown in overtime from your perspective?
“Obviously you always want to end the game with a touchdown. Obviously we’re field goal range, so we’re going to protect it and play it a little bit safer. They brought everybody up in the line of scrimmage to stop the run. The offensive line washed them down, and then Jet (RB Jerick McKinnon) hit the right spot and showed off his speed that he’s still got. He’s getting a little old, but he got a little bit of speed left and got it in the end zone. It was just execution by everybody. Everybody did their job. When we do that, we’re hard to stop. We’ve just got to do that for an entire game.”
I remember in Arizona you said there’s always something to prove. To start the season, obviously everybody knows what happened in the AFC West. Just what does it mean that you’ve proven at least this so far in the season. Obviously you guys are still the divisional champs.
“I say it all the time, when you start every single season, the first thing we get told when we first walk in is let’s win the AFC West. That’s our first goal to come in and win the AFC West. We believe it’s always a tough division. Obviously the players they got in the off season, it was even tougher. We accomplished our first goal. So, our next goal is to try to establish home field advantage. It’s not in our hands. We can do our best to be ready in case we get that opportunity, and then win the Super Bowl. We just kind of continue to get better and better. Obviously we have a lot to learn from this game. But we have to continue to get better as a team so when we get to the playoffs, we’re ready to go to try to make a run.”
RB Isaiah Pacheco has a fumble early in the game. What was your message to him?
“I don’t even have to say anything. I think guys know, especially with how Coach Reid calls the game. When something like that happens, we’re going right back to you. You saw that with Isaiah (Pacheco). He started running the ball and started running extremely hard, even harder than he usually runs. Then with JuJu (Smith-Schuster), he fumbles and gets more catches as the game went on. So, Coach Reid does a good job of keeping those guys involved and not letting them hang their heads. They know that we all believe in them on this team, and that’s what it takes to be a great team.”
Did the Texans defense show you guys early on in the game anything different from what you were seeing in film? What was your general assessment of the Texans defense overall?
“Their front seven is good, really good. They got guys that can play. We knew that coming in. We could see that in the tape, especially with the Cowboys the week before. They did some blitzes. They blitzed a little more than I was expecting, but we finally got a handle on it a little bit in that second half. We were able to move the ball. But they got through with a few blitzes we had scouted, but we didn’t expect early in the game. They did a good job, like I said they’re well-coached. Their record hasn’t been great, but they have a lot of great players on that team.”
Can you talk about some of the hits that you took? What are your thoughts on that?
“I haven’t seen it on tape or anything like that. I don’t really know what it looked like. What surprised me the most is I feel like I’m a pretty heavy dude, and he threw me pretty easily there. He’s a strong guy. I think it was 96 (Maliek Collins). I’ll try to stay away from him next time we play him.”
You talked about coming back and making your first start in your home state of Texas. Can you assess your play? What was it like making your first start here?
“I’m glad we won. Last time I played here, we lost. So, I was glad we won that game. We battled. Obviously we feel like we didn’t play our best, but we found a way to win at the end of the day. Now we just need Texas Tech to win here in the next couple of weeks.”
Did anything change this week after a rare off week or a rare off quarter last week?
“I think I just went back to the fundamentals. When I watched the tape from the week before, I felt like I left easy throws out there. Today I just tried to take those when they were there, keep third downs manageable, take those easy completions. When the shots present themselves, try to take the shots. There wasn’t a lot of opportunities with the coverages they were playing, so we did a good job of just kind of moving it down the field little by little until we could get in the end zone.”
RB JERICK MCKINNON
What was your thought process after seeing the fumble recovery, and what was your message to the team before the game-winning touchdown?
“It happened so fast, we were just trying to get our thoughts together on the previous drive. We were just thankful for the opportunity because in that specific situation, as offensive leaders, you definitely want to go down and score and make it hard. So, it was a big play by Frank (Clark) to give us a chance to win the game. Then we got the ball back. Everybody was just like, we need to score. Sometimes, when we get in that position this year, we (go for a) field goal or just wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. It was great blocking. I didn’t even get touched on the play. They made it easy for me. So, shout outs to everybody.”
At what point did you know you were going to score on that play? Once you got the ball?
“No. We were coming into the huddle, and, obviously, we were running the four-minute ball and stacking the box. So, it was a little tough. Pat (Mahomes), he looked at me and said, ‘Two hands on the ball. Let’s go.’ I said, ‘I’m about to score.’ JuJu (Smith-Schuster) looked at me. He said, ‘I got your block, bro. Find me when you get out there.’ It worked out exactly like that. I made it to the second level, and I literally ran off of JuJu’s block and was able to score. It’s just crazy it worked out like that, man. It’s crazy.”
We talked about guys relying on the slow start to come back, and that happened again today. Was the message any different going into halftime?
“No, but like I said before, for us to come out and start slow in games, it’s definitely not who we are. It’s not our identity. It’s not what we want. But along the course of the season, things happen. It’s not pretty. It’s not the nicest, but we find a way to win, and that’s all that matters. When you come out to win, it’s much better when you look back at the tape versus being on the other side. We’re just thankful for the opportunity to win the game, have a chance to win the game, and come out victorious.”
As a vet in running back room, what was your message to RB Isiah Pacheco after the fumble?
“I just told him to keep his head up. We’re all human. Millions of players fumble on offense. I’ve fumbled on offense. My message to him was bounce back. The great ones respond. I definitely think he has the ability to be great in this league. That was my message. Keeping it human. We’re all human. We make mistakes, but the great ones respond. Show me you’re great. He always answers, man. He brings so much energy. The guys, we love him.”
What does it mean to you to win the AFC West title?
“It’s a blessing. This is my second year with the team, two AFC West championships. It’s a blessing. I was just talking to the people outside and said, ‘Some guys go their whole career and never win a division, never make the playoffs. When you have the opportunity to be in this moment, you’ve got to enjoy it. You’ve got to cherish it because everybody doesn’t get the opportunity.’ So, it’s just a blessing to be here, play on this team, this coaching staff and be in this position.”
QB Patrick Mahomes took some big hits. Talk about the hits from your perspective. Was it a little extra at times?
“They’re always extra, but Pat, he’s tough. Mentally tough, physically tough. And above all, he’s one of the greatest competitors that I’ve played with. You see it on tape. You’ve seen it today. You’ve seen it throughout the season. To be on offense with a guy like that, a leader like that is definitely amazing. He’s tough, man. It shows.”
You mentioned Mahomes’ competitiveness. Last week was not his best game. Did you notice a difference this week?
“He’s always striving to be better, no matter what type of game he has. He comes in Monday, right to the next script. How can he be better? The thing about him, no matter what the score is, no matter how many points we’re down, how many points we’re up, he wants to have his foot on the gas the whole time. That’s one of the things I respect and love about him the most.”
K Harrison Butker has been playing through an injury this season. Does anyone say anything to him? What does it mean for guys to pick him up?
“We’ve all got to pick each other up. Seventeen weeks is a long season. Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes. We’re all human. We have the utmost belief in (Butker) that he’s going to make those field goals. He’s been so clutch for us in the past. If he goes out and misses a field goal, cool, onto the next. We’ve got to find a way to pick up. Offense, we’ve got to score some more points. Defense, we’ve got to make some more stops. This team, the chemistry is so tight, the bond is so tight. I think you see that in the play, in the film, you see it week in and week out. No matter what the struggles, we find a way to overcome, and we find a way to play team ball.”
There’s so many veterans on this team, and ten rookies on this roster. From your point of view, how have you seen this combination work to win a divisional title?
“It’s been a good mix. It’s definitely been amazing watching those young guys come in and learn at camp, try to figure it out. A lot of those guys were curious how the older guys take care of their bodies. They have a lot of questions. To see them progress throughout camp and along the course of the season has definitely been amazing. Like you said, it’s ten rookies. A lot of rookies making plays for us. You got (Isiah) Pacheco, B (Bryan) Cook played on defense. You’ve (Trent) McDuffie, J. Wat (Jaylen Watson), J. Will (Joshua Williams), George (Karlaftis). There’s a lot of guys, man. Skyy (Moore), and the list goes on and on. Those guys, the more reps they get, the better they’re going to get. As that goes, the more confident they get.”