Patrick Mahomes showcased to the NFL he's back, turning in a performance for the ages on a national stage Sunday night. Mahomes completed 35 of 50 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions, becoming the only quarterback in league history to throw for 400 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions in a game twice.
Mahomes wasn't forcing plays down the field and looked comfortable in the pocket throughout the night. The Las Vegas Raiders were taking the deep ball away and Mahomes was still picking the defense apart. Mahomes uncovered an aspect of his game he didn't recognize through most of the first half of the season, an adjustment Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid worked on with his superstar quarterback.
"Zone teams, you've got to be able to check the ball down," Reid said Monday on Mahomes' maturation process. "That's just how it goes, especially when they work at not giving you the deep throw. So, your short-intermediate game becomes very important and how we call plays to stretch the field becomes important, horizontally, and vertically to create some space to throw.
"All that's important, but for him to be able to use his checkdown I think is big. The backs have always been a big contributor in this offense and the pass game."
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Mahomes was able to find Darrel Williams nine times for 101 yards in the win, including the impressive 38-yard touchdown catch on the wheel route that put the game away early in the fourth quarter. The 8.12 yards per attempt was Mahomes' highest in a month, yet was the first game the Chiefs' offense seemed to be firing on all cylinders since the second half of a win over Washington in Week 6.
Reid gave the whole offense plenty of praise in adjusting to the zone defense. Kansas City looked like the offense Reid coached from 2018 through 2020, a dangerous sign for the rest of the NFL. The Chiefs may finally have this zone defense figured out.
"When you're playing zone teams, timing becomes important," Reid said. "The windows against these good teams are small and the ball's got to be out, drops got to be right, routes got to be right that you run, and you've got to stand the quarterback's time. So, the offensive line's got to do their part, E.B. [offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy] and I have to make sure we're giving them the right plays to use.
"You have the run game involved, but everyone has to pull it together and then be able to do that for a sustained drive. We're doing better here the last couple weeks with that."