KC Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes saw Travis Kelce wide open. Here’s why he threw it elsewhere

·3 min read
Rich Sugg

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes saw the same thing you probably did — his tight end, Travis Kelce, standing wide open over the middle of the field, hands up and awaiting the ball at the first-down marker.

Mahomes elected instead to launch a deep ball to wide receiver Mecole Hardman that fell incomplete. The broadcast Sunday took an extra moment to highlight Kelce with a yellow circle on the telestrator because, goodness, how could you miss him when he was that open?

Mahomes didn’t.

He saw Kelce. Not just on film, but in real time.

He simply disagrees that was his best option on the play.

“I kind of wanted to give (the deep pass) a chance,” Mahomes said after the Chiefs beat the Packers 13-7. “Even though defenses are playing so deep, you want to still have the chance to take those shots. I missed a couple of them. You have to know when to take them and when to take the underneath. That’s something that I continue to have to get better at as the season goes on.”

It’s the undercurrent of the Chiefs’ season. They’d like to throw the ball deep. Teams are doing all they can to prevent the Chiefs from throwing the ball deep.

This is the consequence of all of that. When there’s even a small crease, they feel inclined to take the shot — even if it means bypassing other intriguing options. The Chiefs have talked about taking what’s there, about taking advantage of what opposing defenses are allowing. On this second-quarter play, the Packers defense certainly relinquished a 10-yard hook pattern to Kelce, who was so open that he seemed to be expecting the ball to come his way.

It went instead to Hardman, who was being tracked fairly closely by safety Adrian Amos and a trailing corner.

So take what’s there, unless ...

“I think I’m just trying to give our guys some chances,” Mahomes said. “It was close — Mecole almost had a chance. He kind of got pulled up there at the end. He tried to run underneath it and make a play happen. Those are the chances you take when you take a deep shot — sometimes you want to go for that deep shot, get that 60-yard touchdown or whatever it is; or you could have a 20-yard completion over the middle.

“It’s that risk-reward factor.”

Took the risk. Didn’t get the reward.

But it’s one he still believes is worth taking — and so does his coach, by the way. On Monday, Andy Reid backed the decision to try to hit Hardman on a play that likely would’ve carried him into the end zone — even if that option meant having to swallow the fact that a wide-open Kelce would be stranded.

“He knows there are a handful of games in the game plan (that) if I call them, he’s got the freedom to shoot if he can get guys (in) 1-on-1 type situations,” Reid said of Mahomes. “Mecole, he had a pretty good opportunity to go grab it. (Mahomes) felt like that was a viable throw. I’m OK with that.

“If you complete it, great. You’ve got to try, or you’re never going to complete it — within realism on that. You’ve got a realistic view of it, and that’s what he felt he had. I’m OK with that.”