It’s easy to overlook it when the end result is a win for Kansas City that locked up the No. 1 seed, but their performance certainly matters at this point of the season. In the locker room, the Chiefs’ players and coaches weren’t doing much celebrating. If you had listened to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes without the context of what had just occurred, you might come out the other side assuming that they’d lost the game.
Mahomes, in particular, was very blunt about his execution in relation to the Chiefs’ offensive struggles.
“I mean, first of all, I’ve got to focus on fixing the things I made mistakes on during the game,” Mahomes told reporters after the game. “There was a lot of reads, a lot of protection calls, a lot of adjustments at the line of scrimmage that I made wrong or that I didn’t make the right way that put us in bad positions, and so I’ve got to focus on getting myself better to help out the team.”
Mahomes only completed 24-of-44 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on Sunday. He had a number of near-interceptions as well. It wasn’t his best performance, but Reid also shared in taking some of the blame. Atlanta’s defense got the best of his offense for the majority of the game.
“I take responsibility for that,” Reid said. “We’ve got to just kind of get ourselves back into a rhythm here. I think we just weren’t as sharp as we need to be, and I’ve got to go back and look at the plays, make sure we’re dialing up the right things and then executing them, or at least dialing them up in the right order and then go from there. Then, I’ve told you before, I’m going to look at what I did, what we set up for the players, and then we’ll look at what the players could do to get better.”
In Reid’s estimation, it’ll amount to some combination of better play-calling and better offensive execution on the part of the players. He’ll have to look at the tape more thoroughly to figure out what exactly went wrong. The offense will have a lot to work on over the next two weeks in order to come out firing better in the divisional round of the playoffs. There were some good things to take away from this game, however.
“One positive was they battled like crazy, and then here’s Pat (Patrick Mahomes) just ripping their heart out with that last throw to D-Rob (Demarcus Robinson),” Reid said. “I mean, he could’ve hung his head and he’s going, ‘Give me more. Like a good pitcher, I’m going to keep firing.’ So, he did that and he worked through everything that was going on before, any frustration or whatever was going on before, he worked through it, and here came out on the right end.”
When the playoffs arrive you have to find a way to win games, even when things aren’t necessarily going right for you. We saw that last season with all the adversity this team overcame in individual games, including Super Bowl LIV. We’re seeing that show late in the season with Kansas City, especially in the most recent non-conference games against the Saints and Falcons. Mahomes would have you believe they’re getting back that mentality that helped them win a Super Bowl title a season ago.
“At the end of the day, the defense played their tail off in that game and to give us a chance,” Mahomes said. “And the offense found a way to score a touchdown when we needed to, so that’s just that championship swagger as Tyrann (Mathieu) would say, of knowing how to win a game even when you’re not playing well.”
Even with the offensive miscues in Week 16, this doesn’t seem like such a bad spot to be in. They found a way to win as imperfect as it was, recapturing their championship swagger from a season ago. Now they’ll surely be focused on ways to improve with the playoffs around the corner.