Patrick Mahomes overcomes uncharacteristic night to propel Chiefs to close win vs. Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Patrick Mahomes, admittedly, doesn't look like a gazelle while running. But don't take that to mean he's slow.

"I move a little better than people think," Mahomes said following the Kansas City Chiefs' 23-20 victory over the New York Jets on "Sunday Night Football."

Instead of his arm being the weapon of choice, Mahomes used his legs to seal the win, first by converting a third-and-23 in the closing minutes by rushing for 25 up a cavernous middle of the field (an illegal contact call would have made it an automatic first down anyway). Later in the drive, he scrambled once more and slid at the 2-yard line rather than scoring a touchdown.

His decision allowed the Chiefs to bleed what remained on the clock, and the Jets did not touch the football following quarterback Zach Wilson's fumbled snap with 7:24 remaining.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) slides inside the five yard line ahead of New York Jets cornerback D.J. Reed (4) for a first down during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) slides inside the five yard line ahead of New York Jets cornerback D.J. Reed (4) for a first down during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J.

For Mahomes, it ended a night of inconsistency by the Chiefs offense and proved "that you can have two or three quarters where you literally aren't scoring," Mahomes said, and still win.

"It’s the NFL. Not everything’s going to be easy," Mahomes said. "You’re going to have to find different ways to win. I’ve learned that over my career.”

Mahomes was 18-of-30 for 203 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Both picks were throws Mahomes knows he should not make. He said they were examples of him being greedy and that those passes should be throwaways instead of ending up in the wrong hands.

Mahomes said he was trying to be perfect by fitting passes into tight windows. He also knows at this point in his career he need not be perfect for the Chiefs to win.

"You just got to know when you can take those chances," he said. "At those points in the game, I can’t do that."

When the Chiefs needed him to make plays, he found a way. That comes with the territory of being a two-time Super Bowl champion and league MVP.

“He’s the best in the business," Chiefs center Creed Humphrey said. "Those are the reasons why. He can do stuff like that in critical situations.”

As the Chiefs marched to their second Super Bowl title of the Mahomes-Andy Reid era last season, Mahomes said he learned the lesson of not requiring a historic stat line to walk away a winner.

"For me, even though I hate it while it’s happening, I feel like it makes you better in the end – if you win games like this when everything’s not going perfect," Mahomes said.

Scoring 17 points in the first 12 minutes of the game made life easier for Mahomes and the Chiefs. But success did not continue during the middle portion of the game.

"We didn’t play to our level in that second, third quarter," Mahomes said. "But guys just responded and kept pushing. A little similar to last year, it’s not always going to be pretty for four quarters, especially when you’re playing a good defense like that.”

It’s about finishing, Mahomes said.

On Sunday, he did that with his legs.

“Maybe one day I’ll get a spy," Mahomes said, "then I’ll know I made it.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Patrick Mahomes overcomes uncharacteristic night as Chiefs top Jets