Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell entered Sunday’s game with one interception in a 17-game career that spanned three seasons.
By halftime of the Chiefs’ 24-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, he had doubled that output.
Mitchell’s two picks were among three takeaways by the Chiefs, who entered Sunday with just one through two games.
“You’ve got to have opportunities, you have to create your own opportunities,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “And it’s everybody. You don’t get the picks if you don’t have pressure.”
Indeed, all three of Phillip Rivers’ interceptions came when the Chiefs brought pressure.
On the game’s third play, linebacker Dee Ford was closing in on Rivers, who launched a deep ball down the sideline to Travis Benjamin. Mitchell stepped in front to intercept the floater.
The Chiefs quickly turned the gift into a touchdown when Alex Smith caught Tyreek Hill in stride on a 30-yard touchdown completion.
The Chargers’ next drive ended when Marcus Peters stepped in front of a pass that appeared intended for tight end Antonio Gates. Peters jumped the route and returned the interception 38 yards.
Peters, whose 14 picks over the past two seasons are the most in the NFL, had his first of 2017 and the Chiefs turned the fortune into another touchdown, this a 6-yard shovel pass from Smith to Albert Wilson.
The Chiefs weren’t finished. In the second quarter, Mitchell added his second, on a deep pass on the left sideline intended for Tyrell Williams. This takeaway ended in a Cairo Santos’ 34-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 17-7 lead.
Three picks, 17 points, and the longest of the Chiefs’ scoring drives after getting the turnovers was 43 yards.
“Yeah, I just had a rough day,” Rivers said. “The two (picks by Mitchell) were terrible throws and poor decisions. I really wasn’t in any kind of groove the whole day.”
Takeaways have been a Chiefs staple under Reid. They led the NFL in that department last season, and in Reid’s first four years the Chiefs have the league’s fourth highest among of takeaways.
But they had gotten off to a slow start this season with one interception — a deflected pass caught by defensive tackle Chris Jones against the Eagles — as their only takeaway.
“We can’t let the D-linemen lead the team in picks, so we had to start doing something this week,” Chiefs safety Ron Parker quipped.
Now, the Chiefs have four interceptions: two by Mitchell, who got off to a rough start early in the season opener against the Patriots and has now turned two solid games.
Still, Mitchell said he can find room to improve.
“It was cool to have a game like that, but there was a lot of stuff I left out there,” Mitchell said. “We had a great team win, but as an individual, when it comes to goals for myself, I know I can do better. I have high standards for myself.”