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One of the Kansas City Chiefs’ most underrated offseason acquisitions, cornerback Mike Hughes made a major statement in his first game for his new team. After playing solid coverage against an underrated Browns receiving corps, Hughes made the decisive play of the home opener when he intercepted Baker Mayfield late in the fourth quarter to put the Week 1 win on ice.
Speaking to reporters after the matchup, Hughes seemed grateful for the fresh start he’s found in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. He feels right at home in his first season with Kansas City, and he’s quite enjoyed playing in front of the Chiefs’ faithful.
“Honestly bro, I’m past that,” Hughes said of the usual adjustment period in joining a new team. “I’m here. I’m a part of Chiefs Kingdom now, but that’s all I’m focused on. It felt good to get out here in front of our home crowd and be able to make a play in front of everybody to show everybody what I can do on the field. It felt great, man.”
Hughes’ big play late in the game was a remarkable storyline coming out of the hard-fought scrap against Cleveland. He recounted the experience of dashing the Browns’ hopes of a comeback on their final drive. He took some of the credit but deflected most of it to the other players on the field for the play that gave Kansas City their first win of 2021.
“We knew it was going to come down to getting a stop on defense,” Hughes explained. “I’ve got to give credit to the other 10 guys that did their job, flushed him out of the pocket, he made a bad decision and we just capitalized off it. So, it’s not all about me. I made a great catch, a great play. I’ve always got to give credit to those guys as well, especially the offense keeping us in the game because they kept scoring and it was those couple stops that got us back in it. The offense helped our momentum and when the opportunity presented itself, I made a play.”
The offensive momentum he referenced was the spectacular 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill that totally shifted the outcome of the game. Asked about how that play affected the defense’s ability to get stops against Cleveland’s dynamic offense, Hughes said it was absolutely crucial in lifting the unit’s spirits after struggling early.
“It was huge man,” He said of the big play. “It was a big momentum shift late in the game. We needed that, especially on the defensive side. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of corrections to make, it wasn’t the perfect game, but it took all three phases, offense, defense, special teams. We’re just blessed to come out on top. It’s week one. It’s hard to get wins in the NFL and you’ve just got to take it week by week. Appreciate the opportunity and we see the opportunity.”
Hughes’ opportunities in Kansas City seem to have come at exactly the right time both for him and the Chiefs as a whole. The departure of Bashaud Breeland in the offseason opened a gaping hole in the team’s secondary and necessitated a change of the guard at one of the NFL’s most difficult positions. With a great showing early, Hughes looks primed for an exceptional season, especially with his commitment to improving after Week 1.