Three games into his career as the Chiefs’ offensive catalyst, not much surprises Patrick Mahomes anymore.
Those cheat-code catches and speed routes by Tyreek Hill? Seen ‘em. Sammy Watkins breaking three tackles en route to the end zone? Happens all the time. Travis Kelce putting up a 100-yard game? Sounds about right. Kareem Hunt trucking through contact? Of course.
What looks like a new dimension to the Chiefs’ high-powered offense each week is just everyday life for Mahomes. He’s seen it in practice for nearly two years, and to him, it’s no wonder the offense is flourishing with a diverse range of weapons.
All of those pieces were on full display in the Chiefs’ 38-27 home-opening win against the 49ers on Sunday. And it’s that versatility that makes the Chiefs offense especially potent.
Mahomes targeted 11 players in the win, and nine of them finished with at least one reception. Five different players also carried the ball.
“It speaks to the guys that we have,” Mahomes said. “There’s guys on the practice squad that we have that can come up and play. I mean we just have guys everywhere. We’re really deep at every single position.
“Knowing that I have those weapons whenever someone else has to get a break — and we say, if you’re tired, get a break — I know that I can trust in the next guy coming in that he’ll make a play.”
In the team’s first drive Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs (3-0) utilized six running backs or receivers. Mahomes targeted Hill, Watkins, Chris Conley, Spencer Ware and fullback Anthony Sherman on that drive, and Hunt capped it off with a touchdown run.
In the second drive, which also ended with a Hunt touchdown run, Mahomes added two more targets into the mix with throws to Kelce and fellow tight end Demetrius Harris.
With a rotation like that, the Chiefs’ offense isn’t just a double-edged razor. It’s more like a ninja star with an infinite amount of points, swirling toward opposing defenses at a breakneck speed.
“We’ve got a bunch of weapons, and Pat, he’s just a competitor,” Hunt said. “I knew that from the day I met him when we both got drafted together. We said one day we was going to take over the Chiefs Kingdom, and it was going be our city, and town, and state.”
Sunday afternoon, that was certainly the case as this year’s Chiefs took the field at Arrowhead for the first time in the regular season.
The Chiefs played last year’s greatest hits mixed in with a couple of new instant crowd-pleasers.
There were the two rushing touchdowns for Hunt in the first quarter — the Chiefs’ first ground scores of the year. And there was the how-did-he-do-that run-and-throw touchdown from Mahomes to Chris Conley in the second quarter.
Hill did what he always does, making an eye-popping grab over two 49ers defenders. Kelce had a one-handed snag, another highlight-reel catch that he made look routine, en route to his second 100-yard performance of the season.
And of course, there was the 13-yard pass to tight end Harris, his first of the season, followed by a basketball-inspired celebration from the former college player. Mahomes also made sure Watkins got his first touchdown as a Chief, hitting him on a 12-yard throw that Watkins turned into a score as he broke through three tackles.
“I felt like everybody was getting involved,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “(Harris) had the touchdown early, Sammy finally got him one. He’s got all these yards and everybody else is scoring touchdowns. He finally gets in there, which was great. I think he did a pretty good job of spreading it around.”
The 49ers defense looked confounded by the offensive assault for a half as the Chiefs ripped off 35 points in the opening quarters. Mahomes, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns, broke Peyton Manning’s 2013 record for touchdowns thrown in the first three weeks of a season with 13.
But after halftime, the Chiefs seemed to lose some of their mojo, punting on back-to-back drives after scoring on all five first-half possessions. KC didn’t score a single touchdown after halftime, although Harrison Butker did kick a fourth-quarter field goal that kept the 49ers (1-2) at bay.
“I think those are self-inflicted errors,” Conley said of the slow second half. “We had some of those false starts, we had some missed protections, we had some breakdowns mentally on plays just on different pages from receiver to quarterback. I don’t think the 49ers did anything today to slow us down.”
As the season wears on, though, defenses might find solutions to shutting down the Chiefs’ plan. But Mahomes isn’t worried about that.
“I know that the defense is going to have some surprise they try to throw at us,” he said. “I know that, I mean defenses in this league are good. Defensive coordinators are going to try to find ways to distract us and keep us from doing what we do. I know if we run the game plan the right way, I get the ball out of my hands and to those guys, there’s a chance that there will be a lot of success.”