October 11, 2018 at 2:31 am #2079
KANSAS CITY Uchenna Nwosu Color Rush Jersey , Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes had just thrown six touchdown passes in a record-setting performance against the Steelers, one that gave the Chiefs a big road win and may have stamped them as the AFC’s top team, when someone asked him how he planned to celebrate his birthday.
Mahomes said he planned to watch film of the San Francisco 49ers.
If that was merely the politically correct answer, though, and the 23-year-old first-year starter planned to hit the town, he should have no shortage of Chiefs fans willing to buy him drinks.
They’ll probably still be celebrating St. Patrick’s big day.
“I don’t think that you could expect more from anyone,” said Chris Conley, one of five different receivers to catch a TD pass.
“He’s handled the times where he’s made the plays really well. He’s handled the times where he hasn’t. That speaks volumes.”
To be frank, there haven’t been many times where he hasn’t made the plays.
Mahomes was so dynamic in a Week 17 win at Denver last season that the Chiefs traded away Pro Bowl quarterback Alex Smith and gave Mahomes the starting job.
Then he threw four TD passes without a pick in a near-flawless performance in a road win over the AFC West-rival Chargers to open the season.
But his performance in Pittsburgh, where the Chiefs hadn’t won a game since 1986, was the kind of transcendent display that Chiefs fans have been pining for since Len Dawson was taking snaps.
Mahomes was 23 of 28 for 326 yards, which means he threw more touchdown passes than incompletions. He made all the right checks, scrambled when the opportunity presented itself, and kept his poise when the Chiefs squandered a 21-point first-quarter lead by engineering a near-flawless second half.
“Everybody knew how strong of an arm he has,” Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton said, “and he was making some decent throws, and his playmakers made plays.”
Yes, it helps to have a dizzying array of talent surrounding him.
Kareem Hunt ran for 75 yards to provide just enough offensive balance. Travis Kelce had seven catches for 109 yards and two scores, and Sammy Watkins had six catches for 100 yards, lest anybody worry after their quiet openers against the Chargers.
Tyreek Hill added five catches for 90 yards, all in the second half http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-brian-o_neill-jersey , with another touchdown to punctuate his typically stellar outing.
Still, it takes the quarterback to deliver them the ball.
“There’ll be games where teams try and take away one or two guys and that’s the good thing about this team is that no one really cares about who is getting the shine,” Mahomes said, after spending a hefty amount of time praising his teammates. “Everybody just wants to win.”
Nobody more so than Mahomes, whose 10 touchdown passes through the first two weeks of the season broke the NFL record of nine shared by Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Charley Johnson.
Those touchdown passes have gone to seven different receivers, including fullback Anthony Sherman, which matches the number of guys that caught TD passes all last season.
And those six TD tosses against the Steelers matched Dawson’s 54-year-old franchise record for a single game.
“It just speaks to the weapons that we have on offense. They can’t stop everybody,” Mahomes said, “so for me, it’s just about getting it to the guy that has the man-to-man coverage or has the open area. Those guys were getting open. The offensive line was blocking great. It was making my job easy.”
Perhaps the only downside to so much success is that the expectations surrounding Mahomes, which were already soaring in training camp, have soared to an almost impossible level.
One sports talk radio host wondered Monday whether Mahomes will break Manning’s record for TD passes in a single season. He’s on pace for an absurd 80 of them, and while nobody expects him to maintain such a pace, the reality is he needs to average just 3.2 per game to top the record of 55.
Then there are the expectations for the Chiefs. They’ve already beaten two teams that were thought to be playoff contenders, on the road no less, and done so in fairly convincing fashion.
It’s hardly surprising that Chiefs coach Andy Reid tried to keep everything in perspective when he met with reporters on Monday. But that job is becoming more difficult each week.
“The key to this thing is that you’re growing, that you keep growing. The more that these defensive coordinators have to study it, you keep answering that bell, so that’s his challenge right now,” Reid said. “Is everything going to be roses? No. But he’s seeing things right now and doing a nice job.”
ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-8)
New faces: Coach Steve Wilks Corey Linsley Jersey , QB Sam Bradford, QB Josh Rosen, RG Justin Pugh, RT Andre Smith, S Tre Boston, CB Jamar Taylor, WR Brice Butler, WR Christian Kirk, RB Chase Edmonds, C Mason Cole, CB Bene Benwikere.
Key losses: Coach Bruce Arians, QB Carson Palmer, S Tyrann Mathieu, QB Drew Stanton, C A.Q. Shipley (injured), QB Blaine Gabbert, WR Jaron Brown, WR John Brown, OL Earl Watford, DT Frostee Rucker, DT Josh Mauro Nathan Peterman Jersey , TE Troy Niklas, ILB Karlos Dansby, OG Alex Boone, CB Justin Bethel.
Strengths: With return of RB David Johnson and addition of Bradford, Wilks and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Cardinals are building offense emphasizing running and short passing game. Johnson, NFL leader in yards from scrimmage and TDs two seasons ago, missed 15 games last season with fractured left wrist but returns healthy and hungry for new contract. Waiting on sideline is 10th overall pick Rosen should Bradford repeat his history of injury. Cardinals also are impressed with Edmonds, fourth-round pick out of Fordham, who could provide 1-2 punch behind revamped offensive line. Defense, with switch to 4-3 scheme, looks solid, particularly in secondary, where second-year player Budda Baker plays big role in “nickel” setup. With more zone play, Patrick Peterson might get more shots at making plays. He’s been mostly avoided by quarterbacks who take aim at receivers guarded by someone other than star cornerback. DE Chandler Jones led NFL in sacks last season (17). For what it’s worth, Arizona’s first three preseason opponents committed 16 turnovers.
Weaknesses: Arizona has great wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who enters 15th season after finishing second in NFL in catches (109) one year ago. But position is question mark behind him. Kirk, second-round pick from Texas A&M, has emerged as big-play threat in preseason and Chad Williams has shown improvement after rocky rookie year. Butler is looking to prove himself after parting less than amicably with Cowboys. But there is no consistent, proven receiver beyond Fitzgerald. Other main concern is lack of depth at linebacker and on offensive line.
Fantasy players to watch: Johnson, of course. He was just about everybody’s No. 1 fantasy pick in 2017 Authentic Terrell Edmunds Jersey , only to go down in opener. He returns in best shape of life and motivated to remind people how good he is. As reminder, Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and caught 80 passes for 875 yards in 2016. He topped 100 yards from scrimmage in first 15 games that season, only player in NFL history to so. He also led NFL with 20 TDs.
Vegas Says: Super Bowl 120 to 1. Over/under wins 6.
Expectations: Judging from Vegas and national predictors, expectations aren’t very high. But Wilks, former Carolina defensive coordinator, has worked to install tough, physical mentality and is building around team’s top players: Johnson, Peterson, Bradford, Fitzgerald, Jones. Still, it’s uphill climb in NFC West. Don’t expect Rosen to play unless Bradford goes down with another injury, or team slumps. Schedule is brutal, with non-division games at Minnesota, Kansas City, Green Bay and Atlanta. Cardinals might exceed Las Vegas’ expectations, but most likely not by much.
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