In the Kansas City Chiefs' 38-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills, quarterback Patrick Mahomes had easily one of his worst games as a professional. The basic counting stats weren't kind to him, his pocket presence was shaky and several of his throws were short. He also committed three turnovers, although some context is necessary for two of them.
Of Mahomes' two interceptions, both were tipped. One went through the hands of wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and the other stemmed from a great play by rookie defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau near the line of scrimmage in which he disengaged from his blocker temporarily to rise up and swat the football, then pick it off. While Mahomes could've tried to avoid both of those, they largely aren't his fault.
His fumble, on the other hand, most certainly was. It came in the fourth quarter when the game was essentially out of reach, but Mahomes couldn't field center Creed Humphrey's snap and lost it. The Bills recovered it, which killed any remaining (albeit slim) chance of a comeback being sparked. After the game, Mahomes took responsibility for the team turning the ball over so much.
“It starts with me," Mahomes said. "Three of them were on me. The interceptions and fumble at the end of the game and so I have to correct that, I have to be better. It’s something that I’ve not usually done in my career, but I have to reevaluate where I’m at, what decisions I’m making so once we do that, we kind of hurt ourselves, I think we’ll find ways to score points. Turnovers are a huge deal in this league. Turnover margin usually decides games so it’s something we have to correct if we want to win these football games.”
Much has been made of the Chiefs getting the best shot from opponents this year. That was a popular narrative in the second half of last season, too, when the team was stringing together a lot of narrow wins. In 2021, teams like the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and now the Bills have played the Chiefs very hard and brought some of their best football to the table. The same hasn't been said about the Chiefs, as they've underachieved by virtually all standards as a team. Mahomes is fine with getting other teams' best on game day, though.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way," Mahomes said. "I want to be as prepared as possible to play in the playoffs to try to make it to the Super Bowl. If that means we’re going to get the best shot from every single team, then I’m ready for the challenge.”
The Chiefs' difficult schedule can be viewed in two different ways. On one hand, the team is battle-tested against playoff-caliber opponents so early in the year. On the other, what does a 1-3 record against those squads say about where the Chiefs rank among the AFC's elite? So far, the answer to that question is different than it has been in the recent past. It remains to be seen if these tough losses will end up paying dividends in the long run.