When Patrick Mahomes saw how the Buffalo Bills were defending him and the Kansas City Chiefs in Monday night’s 26-17 win, it caused him to flash back.
“It takes me back to my college days at Texas Tech when we’re getting [eight defenders in pass coverage] and the linebackers are 6, 7 yards deep,” Mahomes said. “If teams are going to do that, we’ve got to run the football until they come up, and when they come up, we’re going to throw the football again.
“Once we saw how deep their linebackers and safeties and corners were playing, we knew that we had the run game. So we really just stayed with it, and if teams are going to play us like this, you’re going to see us run the football, and we have the guys that can do it.”
The Chiefs (5-1) ran the ball more than they threw it for only the second time in Mahomes’ 37 starts. They were rewarded for the strategy with a victory.
Mahomes was still efficient as a passer, going 21-of-26 with two first-half touchdown passes to Travis Kelce. But Mahomes threw for only 225 yards against the Bills (4-2) on a rainy night in Buffalo.
Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the running game were instead the offensive stars. The Chiefs rushed for 245 yards, their most since 2012, with Edwards-Helaire getting 161. Kansas City’s 46 rushes were tied for the most attempts by any Andy Reid-coached team, regular season or postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. (Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 seasons before becoming the Chiefs’ coach in 2013.)
It was a dramatic turnaround from even last week, when Mahomes dropped back 46 times in a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, while Edwards-Helaire and other Chiefs backs combined for 11 carries.
“I didn’t think I gave the guys enough of a chance last week with it, especially the second half,” Reid said. “We’re best when we have some kind of a balance going, when you can kind of go back and forth. It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense. And so we were able to do both, and we felt like we needed both in this game.”
The Chiefs blocked so well that 197 of their rushing yards came before the ball carrier was touched by a defender.
“When you have days like this, things just seem to part like the Red Sea,” Edwards-Helaire said.
The Chiefs played most of the game without two starting offensive linemen. Guard Kelechi Osemele tore a tendon in each of his knees in last week’s game, and tackle Mitchell Schwartz left Monday’s game for good in the first half because of a back injury.
The Chiefs dominated anyway — to the point that Mahomes said he had to fight the urge to throw more passes.
“It was definitely different,” he said. “[The Chiefs had] a few of those [run-pass options] called, and I had to tell myself not to throw it, just keep handing that thing off.”