The last time the Chiefs stepped inside Raymond James Stadium, they exhausted 60 minutes without finding the end zone once.
Scoring their first touchdown in Sunday night’s return trip required all of 46 seconds.
And then 10 minutes for another. Then eight for the next.
And on it went.
Better finish, too.
The Chiefs ran past the Buccaneers 41-31 in Tampa in their first meeting since Super Bowl LV, and, well, we tried to warn you all this might be coming.
Patrick Mahomes is 8-2 in games in which he’s playing against teams he previously lost to in a recent matchup. And he played quite the role in No. 8.
That’s a good place to start in this week’s observations from immediately after the game:
1. Vintage Patrick Mahomes
Really, I could spend this entire section just dissecting one play.
The snap started at the 2-yard line. A blitz forced Mahomes to retreat all the way to the 15. A sprint to the 5. A spin-move to drop linebacker Devin White. A push pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire for a touchdown.
A one-man show.
Mahomes ran 39.4 yards behind the line of scrimmage before pushing a pass — think more like an entry from a guard to a big man in the low post, except this big man stands 5-foot-7 — to Edwards-Helaire, per Next Gen Stats.
Mahomes was on one Sunday, save one late mistake, and that came as little surprise given his record in these sorts of situations. Mahomes completed 23 of 37 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns.
2. The Chiefs’ third-down machine
The Chiefs are back to turning third downs into works of art. Amazing how much better the entire operation works when the third-down calls are working, right?
The Chiefs, the league’s best third-down team a year ago, converted just 7 of 22 attempts over the past two weeks.
A clinic in Tampa Bay, though.
The Chiefs converted 11 of their initial 13 third-down attempts and 12 of 17 for the game.
The credit here will go to Mahomes, but it should be shared with head coach Andy Reid, who had his own rebound game after a rough outing last week.
3. A premonition? Or maybe not.
Shaquil Barrett might want a re-do.
Might wish he had never, with one out-loud thought, ticked off the quarterback who seems to play his absolute best when he’s exactly that — ticked off.
At the onset of the week, moments before Mahomes would speak to reporters in Kansas City, Barrett, a Bucs edge rusher, spoke to some in Tampa Bay and issued this statement:
“I really don’t think it’s too much of a difference,” he said when talking about the Chiefs offensive line. “We have a lot of favorable match-ups. I think we have an opportunity to really dominate the game. I just think, yeah, we got an opportunity to really impose our will as pass rushers, as edge rushers this game. And we could really have like a coming-out party.”
The Chiefs offensive line didn’t keep Mahomes completely clean Sunday night, but a difference between this performance and the one in the Super Bowl? Uh, yeah, pretty easy to see. The offensive line actually dominated the first quarter, when the Chiefs built a two-score advantage they would maintain.
When the Bucs did pressure Mahomes, it helped that when he scrambled, he had a healthy toe this time. And he therefore probably enjoyed beating Barrett in a foot race to the first-down marker to extend a second-quarter drive.
4. L’Jarius Sneed, playmaker
It became evident at some point last year, and perhaps most evident during the postseason, that the Chiefs were in need of some significant help at edge rusher.
Turns out, they might already have one.
He just happens to play cornerback.
Is there any in the league better than L’Jarius Sneed on a cornerback blitz? I’ll offer the evidence of a second-quarter sack of Brady. Sneed refrained from showing blitz pre-snap, then bent around the corner of the line to avoid being touched and not only sacked Brady but forced a fumble that Chris Jones pounced on. Brady felt Sneed before he saw him.
While Mahomes took over the first half, Sneed’s sack was one of the most important plays. It immediately followed a failed fourth-down try — failed only because running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire dropped a pass without a defender in sight.
Sneed is having quite the start to his third NFL season, one that should lead to a payday next summer.
5. The guy who doesn’t age.
OK, the other guy who doesn’t age.
At some point, Travis Kelce’s numbers are going to illustrate the decline in speed that advanced metrics demonstrate.
Kelce is still finding so many subtle ways to create creases, as he did on the second snap of the game — offering linebacker Lavonte David a slight hesitation to get open, leading to a 16-yard touchdown catch.
Later in the first half, Kelce passed Rob Gronkowski for fifth most career receiving yards among tight ends. He caught nine of 10 targets for 92 yards and a touchdown, including 46 yards in the first quarter.