The run went for 21 yards, not Kareem Hunt’s longest rush of the year.
His most artistic? No doubt.
Hunt matched a career-high with three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 45-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on NBC’s nationally televised Sunday Night Football.
But his balancing act/leaping/power gallop in the first quarter served his signature play.
“It was just one of those runs, where you’ve got to get the team going,” Hunt said. “I’m never going to give up on a play. I’m going to fight for every last inch until they make sure I’m down.”
It went like this: From the Bengals’ 27, Hunt took the handoff from Patrick Mahomes and the play was bound for nowhere, even perhaps a loss, when cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick penetrated and got his arms around Hunt.
The reason Fitzpatrick nearly blew up the play? Mahomes said it was a bad read on a run-pass option and he should have kept the ball.
But a moment later, Hunt emerged from the tackle and churned ahead.
As if breaking the tackle wasn’t enough of a football play, Hunt continued, and when he had covered about 10 yards, he confronted safety Jessie Bates, who was in perfect tackling position. But if he touched Hunt at all, his hand grazed Hunt’s foot while he hurdled over the defender.
Hunt still wasn’t finished, though.
Now at the 14, Hunt lowered his body and bulled into Bengals defenders until he was finally taken down at the 6. Or maybe it wasn’t a bullish move.
“I like the bull, but I like the ox, too,” Hunt said. “I like to be running like an ox out there...and I like to score.”
That would come soon enough. But the run stands on its own as perhaps the game’s highlight reel moment.
“You see guys jump over guys, but they kinda build up and kinda know it,” Mahomes said. “He had just broken a tackle, and I felt like he just started to run, and he just out of instinct jumped over him. Hopefully we can keep him from jumping over guys to often, but it was a pretty sweet thing at the time.”
Twenty-one yards were added to Hunt’s total. He entered the weekend averaging 76 rushing yards per game, sixth in the NFL, picking up the pace after a slow start.
The NFL’s leading rusher as a rookie in 2017, Hunt had 168 rushing yards in the Chiefs’ first three games.
He rushed for 121 in their Week 4 victory at Denver and picked up a total of 167 in the next two games. Sunday, Hunt rushed for 86 yards and added 55 yards in receptions.
“He’s playing as well as any running back in the National Football League,” Coach Andy Reid said. “He’s not only running the ball like crazy, he’s catching the football.”
For touchdowns. The scoring collection began on the play after the breath-taking run. On the Chiefs’ first snap from the 6, Mahomes rolled right with Hunt leading the way, and it looked like the quarterback might keep the ball. That allowed Hunt to free himself at the 2.
Mahomes tossed it to Hunt on the sideline. Hunt turned and dove inside the pylon for the game’s first touchdown.
The Chiefs had scored on their first possession — and scored first — for the seventh straight game, and Hunt was the catalyst on this one.
Hunt’s second touchdown reception also accentuated his skills. He took a pass in the flat, broke a Vontaze Burfict tackle and raced to the end zone. Hunt would have been out of bounds short of the goal line, but as he was diving, with his back parallel to the ground, he touched the pylon with the ball.
Hunt found the end zone on a 2-yard run in the third quarter, giving him three touchdowns, and matching a career high set in his NFL debut, at New England in 2017.
“You’ve got to want it,” Hunt said. “In the red zone you need touchdowns instead of threes. We learned that last week.”
The Chiefs booted four field goals last week at New England and lost...by a field goal.
With Hunt’s determination, highlighted by an amazing 21-yard run, the Chiefs cashed in most of their opportunities on Sunday.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Nice hurdle by <a href="https://twitter.com/Kareemhunt7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kareemhunt7</a></p>— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) <a href="https://twitter.com/BarrySanders/status/1054170096959074304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 22, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">On Kareem Hunt’s 21-yard run in the first quarter:<br><br>• Hunt covered 70.5 yards of distance from snap to whistle<br><br>• Hunt was traveling 14.18 MPH at the line of scrimmage and reached a top speed of 15.32 MPH<br><br>• The Bengals had just 6 defenders in the box<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CINvsKC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CINvsKC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ChiefsKingdom?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ChiefsKingdom</a> <a href="https://t.co/1vlFd6IvYJ">pic.twitter.com/1vlFd6IvYJ</a></p>— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) <a href="https://twitter.com/NextGenStats/status/1054183034222632960?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 22, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>