Why Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes disputes Packers’ sign-stealing narrative from Sunday

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes says one story you might’ve heard about Sunday’s interception against the Green Bay Packers isn’t true.

Following the Packers’ 27-19 win over the Chiefs, Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon said in the locker room he knew what route combination was coming based on Mahomes tapping his knee before the snap.

Mahomes disputed that account during his Wednesday press conference with reporters.

“I saw he said that: He saw the thing and knew the play,” Mahomes said. “But it’s the first time I’ve checked to that play in my history of playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.”

It was an important moment Sunday. The Chiefs trailed by five in the fourth quarter with first-and-10 at the Packers’ 49 when Mahomes threw the interception over receiver Skyy Moore and into the hands of Nixon.

According to the model at rbsdm.com, that turnover was the most significant swing of the game by both expected points added (Chiefs lost four expected points) and win probability added (Chiefs’ expected odds of winning dropped from 41% to 21%).

Nixon’s read was critical, too. Mahomes noticed man coverage pre-snap, and with two receivers to the right side, he called for a rub route where receiver Rashee Rice would attempt to screen Moore’s defender to free him up for an outside route.

A play that should’ve worked against man coverage didn’t, though, because of Nixon’s path. He ignored the first part of Moore’s route, then beat him to the ball on the sideline while anticipating the pass would go there.

“We were watching mannerism tape earlier in the week, and (Mahomes) tapped his knee, and they put two (receivers) off the ball,” Nixon told Packers.com and others. “I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this before.’ I knew he was going to run it, and he ran it.”

Mahomes pushed back against Nixon’s claim Wednesday while still crediting him for the individual effort.

“He definitely saw a signal. He did a great job, made a great play — a game-changing play,” Mahomes said. “But just try to be more subtle, I guess, for myself to try to get us to the right spot where we can make a play happen.”

The pass also highlighted Mahomes and Moore seeing the play differently. Though it initially appears Moore hesitates on his route, it’s likely that he saw Nixon back off and instead throttled down to open up a potential back-shoulder throw toward the sideline.

Mahomes seemed to confirm this during an interview with 610 Sports on Tuesday, saying, “Skyy obviously read it one way, and I read it the other. And honestly, he was right. It’s just something I’ve got to be better at, man. I can’t make that mistake in that moment. If I see the guy go over the top, I’ve got to put it on his back shoulder and let him have a chance to make a play.”

The specific hand motion, however, Mahomes doesn’t see as an issue. He said the Chiefs change those up frequently.

“I do a lot of signals. Some are real; some aren’t real. It’s all about trying to play that cat-and-mouse game of trying to confuse a defense,” Mahomes said. “They got me on that one, made a big-time play. I’ll learn from it and try to be better the next time.”