We might not have watched the quarterback matchup that turned the Chiefs-Jets into a prime-time feature, but we still saw some pretty good quarterback play.
From the other guy.
Zach Wilson had his best stretch as an NFL quarterback, and Patrick Mahomes overlapped it with one of his worst.
That’s not a sentence I expected to write.
But the end result? The Chiefs won their third straight game, turning a 17-point lead into a nail-biting 23-20 win.
Here are five observations from immediately after the game:
1. The inexplicable Patrick Mahomes
Wait, who was that guy?
The Chiefs scored the initial 17 points of the game, and, well, Mahomes was Mahomes. The two-time MVP. The two-time Super Bowl winner.
And then he made it interesting for an entirely different reason.
Mahomes threw two interceptions in the second quarter — compared to just three completions — and one mirrored the other. He had all day in the pocket, found no one open and then just fluttered a pass into the air anyway.
Operative word: Fluttered.
He put nothing on either pass, even muttering to himself, “Throw the (bleeping) ball” after his first pick. But the first problem wasn’t the accuracy of either throw. It was the decision to even attempt them.
The decisions effectively let the Jets back in the game — first with actual points and then with momentum.
Mahomes showed up late in the fourth — more with his legs than his arm — but the country’s biggest stage did not provide the setting for his best show.
2. Apparently they were ready to pass
Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay accidentally made some headlines when he remarked that the Jets looked like an offense that wanted to run the ball.
Really, though, everything he said was true.
Wilson had his best game as a pro — and, frankly, he outplayed Patrick Mahomes over the middle quarters. Let me pre-empt the follow-up comment — no, that’s not a good look for the Chiefs’ defense. Wilson threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the second and third quarters combined.
But the other Zach Wilson showed up late. The Jets final three drives: Punt, punt, Wilson botched snap.
3. About those wide receivers
Mahomes’ uncharacteristic day doesn’t share the full story of the offense.
The wide receivers didn’t offer much help, either.
Through the initial 42 minutes of the game, the Chiefs’ receivers had combined for two catches, both by Kadarius Toney. They drew a tough matchup. Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed are probably the best cornerback duo in football. But while Mahomes struggled, it wasn’t so much about missing wide-open receivers.
Because there weren’t many of those.
And that’s been a storyline in three of the four games this season.
4. Pacheco’s town. Well, close enough.
The passing game was rough.
The running game had its best night of the season. And for one player, of his career.
Isiah Pacheco ran for a career-best 115 yards. Even better? It came just a couple of hours from his hometown of Vineland, N.J.
If you know me, you know I believe rushing yard stats are typically more a product of the offensive line than the back. But Pacheco did some nifty work for a 48-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, which also set a career high.
The touchdown run had just a 0.5% touchdown probably, per Next Gen Stats, which also graded the play as nine expected rush yards. It got a few more than that.
5. The opening script
Andy Reid is typically one of the NFL’s better script-writers in the NFL.
Not yet this year.
The Chiefs scored their first opening-drive points of the season in New Jersey — though just three, and not seven.
It’s still an improvement. They had gained an average of 17 yards on their opening possessions over their initial three games. All were punts.
So if it seemed like Reid had a 50-50 decision on whether to kick a 37-yard field goal or leave the offense on the field for fourth-and-3 — which is a bit of a coin-toss to begin with — it probably wasn’t quite a coin-toss for him.