By Matt McMullen – Chiefs.com
The Kansas City Chiefs reminded the rest of the NFL who the back-to-back defending AFC champions were on Sunday night with a dominant victory over the Las Vegas Raiders that moved Kansas City into first place in the AFC West.
Leading by three points midway through the third quarter, the Chiefs raddled off 24 unanswered points over the remainder of the game as quarterback Patrick Mahomes found three different players for touchdowns in what turned out to be a comfortable victory.
“Everybody had a piece of this,” said Head Coach Andy Reid. “It was just a solid performance all the way around.”
Mahomes completed 35-of-50 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns in the game, connecting with wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a pair of scores in the first half. The two touchdowns – an 8-yard strike on Kansas City’s opening drive and a 1-yard toss on the Chiefs’ fourth series – marked the 12th game of Hill’s brilliant career that featured multiple receiving scores, which are the most in the NFL since 2017.
Hill’s efforts helped the Chiefs build a 10-point advantage heading into halftime, but following a score on Las Vegas’ first possession of the second half, Kansas City really kicked things into high gear.
Mahomes led Kansas City to scores on each of its first four drives of the second half, finding rookie tight end Noah Gray, tailback Darrel Williams and wide receiver Byron Pringle each for touchdowns. Williams, in particular, put together a strong night with 144 yards from scrimmage. In fact, the veteran became the first tailback in franchise history to record 9+ catches, 100+ receiving yards and a receiving touchdown in a single game.
“It was very satisfying, but the biggest thing is that we got the win,” Williams said. “Patrick trusted me and threw me the ball. These hands work.”
Tight end Travis Kelce was also productive throughout the game, hauling in eight catches for a team-most 119 yards. Four of those grabs moved the chains on third down, contributing to the Chiefs’ nine conversions on 15 attempts.
It was truly a magnificent offensive performance that marked the third game of Mahomes’ young career with 400+ passing yards and 5+ touchdowns. Remarkably, outside of Mahomes, that feat has only been accomplished four times – by four different players – since 2018.
“[Quarterback] Shane Buechele showed me a video earlier this week of this kid saying, ‘I got my swagger back,’ and that was kind of my motto this week,” said Mahomes, who had struggled at times over the last few weeks before Sunday’s performance. “I think the whole team got that swag back, and we’re going to try and keep that rolling.”
That offensive success aligned perfectly with a defensive effort that racked up five quarterback hits, two sacks and a pair of takeaways. Las Vegas’ two turnovers – a fumble and an interception that took place on back-to-back possessions – immediately followed the Raiders’ lone scoring drive of the second half and kept Las Vegas off the scoreboard while Kansas City amassed its lead.
The Chiefs were also excellent on third down defensively, holding Las Vegas to just one successful conversion on nine attempts while yielding a grand total of nine scrimmage yards on third down in the game. That yardage output marked the lowest for a team on third down in a single game this season.
“Every game from here on out is a must-win game for us, and that’s really how we’re looking at it,” said safety Tyrann Mathieu, who recovered a fumble in the third quarter. “Every game is important and every series is important…I thought [Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] had a great game plan, and I just tried to flow with it.”
It all added up to a dominant victory for the Chiefs, who moved to 32-6 against divisional opponents since 2015. In terms of injuries, Coach Reid mentioned cornerback Charvarius Ward (stomach illness) and linebacker Willie Gay (illness) following the game.
Kansas City now leads the AFC West and will look to make it four victories in a row next weekend as the Chiefs host the Dallas Cowboys at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.