By Matt McMullen – Chiefs.com
The Kansas City Chiefs won their third game in a row on Sunday afternoon by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-17, behind four touchdown passes by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes found four different players for scores on Sunday while completing 26-of-35 passes for 331 yards, marking his league-most 12th game with 300+ passing yards and 4+ touchdowns since 2018.
That strong performance began with a six-yard strike to wide receiver Kadarius Toney on the Chiefs’ second possession, igniting an impressive overall day for the former first-round pick that that included 90 yards from scrimmage. Toney, who joined the Chiefs late last month in a trade with the New York Giants, now has 102 yards from scrimmage on eight touches in two games with Kansas City.
“He’s a smart kid and he picks it up easy. [He’s] always willing to spend time at it, too,” said Head Coach Andy Reid. “We’re trying to give him some things that he’s done before, and then adding one or two things the last couple of weeks that he’s not used to doing so that he can continue to grow. [Additionally], the quarterback has trust in him because of the feel that he has.”
Toney was soon at it again, too, taking a jet sweep for 32 yards early in the second quarter. The play, which showed off Toney’s electric speed, set up the Chiefs’ second score – an 18-yard strike to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling – two snaps later. It was the first touchdown for Valdes-Scantling as a member of the Chiefs.
“That was cool, man. It’s been a minute [since I scored],” Valdes-Scantling said. “We were able to draw something up for me and get me one. [Wide receiver] JuJu [Smith-Schuster] did a great job of attracting his corner, and [wide receiver Justin Watson] cleared it out. It left me one-on-one to find a spot on the other side of the field, and Patrick gave me a nice, easy one.”
Valdes-Scantling’s touchdown put the Chiefs up by 14, and they weren’t done. Mahomes soon led another scoring drive in the closing minutes of the first half – an eight-play, 86-yard series – that ended with a 13-yard strike to tight end Noah Gray that put Kansas City up by three scores.
It marked the second time this season that Mahomes had thrown for at least three touchdowns in the first half of a game, making him one of only two players (joining Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts) to do so multiple times this season.
Jacksonville fought back despite some early struggles, however, to find the end zone in just 35 seconds immediately after Gray’s touchdown. The Jaguars then appeared poised to do so yet again on their opening series of the second half, but a sack by defensive tackle Chris Jones on third down forced Jacksonville to settle for a field goal.
Jones, who finished the game with 1.5 sacks, contributed to a defensive effort that held the Jaguars to just 4-of-14 on third down.
The Chiefs also did a tremendous job of containing Jaguars’ tailback Travis Etienne, who entered Sunday’s game with at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his last five outings. Kansas City made sure to put that streak to an end, holding the Jaguars’ talented young running back to only 73 yards from scrimmage.
“It feels great. All I wanted to do was come out here and prove that we are a good run team and that we can stop the run,” said defensive tackle Khalen Saunders. “We came in and we had a goal: we wanted to stop Etienne and stop the run game. [We were] able to bag it up, and that’s always a great feeling.”
Saunders was also impactful in the passing game, recording a sack early in the second quarter. He was one of five players to tally a sack in the game, joining Jones (1.5), linebacker Leo Chenal (1.0), linebacker Willie Gay (1.0) and defensive end Carlos Dunlap (0.5). For Dunlap, it marked an even 100 sacks for his impressive career.
“Being able to get that accomplished is a huge milestone that, as a young player coming into the league, was a goal [of mine],” Dunlap said. “[I wanted to] play 10+ years, get 100+ sacks [and] to be in that elite category of the [best] guys who have ever done it. So, to get that done today and to share it with [Chris Jones], who has potential to be up there as well, was a very special moment.”
That collective defensive effort held Jacksonville to just 10 points through the midpoint of the third quarter, but the onus was still on Kansas City to score and effectively put the game away. Fortunately, Mahomes and company delivered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a seven-yard strike to tight end Travis Kelce.
The play – which represented Kelce’s eighth touchdown grab on the year – answered the Jaguars’ 10 unanswered points with a score and essentially secured the victory. Jacksonville managed to find the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, but Mahomes hit Valdes-Scantling for 36 yards on third down a possession later that effectively sealed it.
The win, coupled with the Buffalo Bills’ loss, meant that the Chiefs climbed atop the AFC standings with a 7-2 record on the year.
In terms of injuries, Coach Reid reported following the game that wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and cornerback Chris Lammons are each in the concussion protocol. Additionally, right tackle Andrew Wylie sprained his elbow and will undergo an MRI on Monday.
The Chiefs will now turn their attention to a divisional matchup as they travel to Los Angeles this upcoming Sunday for a prime-time bout against the Chargers.