Patrick Mahomes Can Win With His Arm — And His Legs

After never throwing fewer than 243 yards in any game he’s started and completed, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has now gone two straight games with fewer than 200 passing yards.

“Our standard for ourselves is to score on every single drive,” Mahomes said. “Any time we don’t do that, we feel like we fall short.”

Though the reigning MVP might have fallen short of his typical lofty standard by completing just 15-of-29 passes for 175 yards, he guided his team to a dominant, 40-9 win against the rival Oakland Raiders that likely sewed up the AFC West for the Chiefs for a fourth consecutive year. 

And for the second consecutive game, Mahomes compensated his less prolific aerial stats by making plays with his legs.

After running for a career-high and team-high 59 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers, Mahomes ran for 25 against the Raiders, including a 13-yard touchdown for his first touchdown run of the season.

On that play wide receiver Tyreek Hill didn’t execute the swing route down the sideline properly so Mahomes scrambled to the left and high-stepped across the goal line.

“I told him if he didn’t want the touchdown, I’d take it,” Mahomes said. “I got to pick my knees up and get in the end zone.”

Against the Chargers two weeks ago, Mahomes was just 19 of 32 for 182 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Against the Raiders on Sunday, Mahomes completed just more than 50% of his passes, but it wasn’t all his fault. Tight end Travis Kelce had two dropped two passes in the first quarter alone.

Gusty conditions factored in too. Mahomes said an end-zone pass he missed to an open Kelce during the first drive of the third quarter floated back to the inside because of the wind.

In addition, perhaps Mahomes was just off, or it’s because he’s still rehabilitating his knee injury, though he said resting it during the bye week helped.

“I definitely feel a lot better,” he said. “The more time I get, where I can kind of be away from that injury, the better I’ll feel.” 

Mahomes, who reached 70 career touchdown passes faster than any quarterback in NFL history, looked like his old MVP self during a second-quarter play, in which he retreated 15 yards to avoid two Raiders pass rushers before completing a sidearm pass to Kelce for the first down.

Because of those kind of highlight plays, he’s likely to earn the NFL’s most lucrative contract this offseason, even though he has one year left on his four-year, $16.4 million deal.

Mahomes and the offense also could rely on a much-maligned defense, which once again bent but didn’t break, against the Raiders. That unit gave up 104 rushing yards to rookie Josh Jacobs, and he rushed for five first downs in the first half, but they forced two turnovers, including a pick-six by Juan Thornhill.

“It made our job easy as an offense,” Mahomes said.

The offense played a clean game despite Mahomes’ less prolific passing numbers. While Oakland had 12 penalties for 99 yards, the Chiefs had zero.

“It was a mind-set they had,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “I compliment the players on that.”

Reid complimented each unit — offense, defense and special teams — after the game. Though the passing attack wasn’t as sharp as we’ve come to expect, Reid is now 4-0 against Jon Gruden in his former coaching colleague’s latest stint with the Raiders and has won 10 out of the last 11 matchups against Oakland.

“Everything’s not going to be perfect,” Reid said. “But there was enough good there that if we start critiquing a couple of bad ones, then we’re missing out on some pretty good ones.”

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I have written for Packers.com, Pro Football Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World and Rivals.com. After graduating from Northwestern University, ...