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QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs’ rebuilt offense put NFL on notice at site of Super Bowl LVII

Chiefs Cardinals Football
Posted at 1:27 PM, Sep 12, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — Super Bowl LVII will be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, 154 days from Sunday.

The Kansas City Chiefs served notice with a 44-21 dismantling of the Arizona Cardinals that they’re on the short list of AFC teams with the chops to make it back to the desert in mid-February.

“The whole offseason, everybody's asked the questions of what this offense, what this team, is going to look like,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “We've always believed that we’re going to go out there and put on a show, and I thought guys did that. “

Mahomes threw five touchdowns — one to Travis Kelce, two to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, one to Jody Fortson and one to Mecole Hardman Jr. — during a scintillating season-opening performance. He finished 30 of 39 for 360 yards with no interceptions.

“Ultimate competitor, man,” safety Justin Reid said. “I mean, even on practice days, it doesn't matter what it is. The guy is going to play to win. He's very special, man. The arm talent, the mindset, the mentality, the way he's able to just manage the game then know when to make a splash play and make all the throws.

"I call it Mahomes Magic, man. You just never know what's going to happen, but he's going to get it done. It's very fun as a defender to know that you have a quarterback like that leading your offense.”

Mahomes was slowed after last offseason's foot surgery and the Chiefs’ offense struggled to get into gear, especially during a 3-4 start.

Kansas City fought its way back to an NFL-record fourth consecutive home AFC Championship Game, but a blown 18-point halftime lead during an overtime loss against Cincinnati with a third straight Super Bowl at stake threatened to haunt the Chiefs.

Rather than sulk, a now-healthy Mahomes went to work.

All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who had served as a security blanket throughout Mahomes’ career, was traded away, ushering in a new era for Kansas City’s offense.

“When everything initially went down, yeah, there was a question,” said All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, who led the Chiefs with eight catches and 121 yards in Sunday’s opener. “But once I saw how hard guys were working, their attention to detail, how Pat keeps progressing as a quarterback — we're in a good kind of routine that we just keep getting better. You could feel that from the day we started to now.”

Mahomes brought together the new weapons General Manager Brett Veach assembled like the Avengers regrouping in “End Game” down in Texas, starting in late March with the hopes of building something special from the ashes of the 2021 season.

“When Pat got everybody to Texas, that's when we really felt it,” Edwards-Helaire said. “I mean, we were like two months after the season ended and we were already rolling.”

When the Cardinals blitzed on Sunday, they paid a price. When they didn’t, Mahomes still found someone open.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, a free-agent pickup from Pittsburgh, finished with six catches for 79 yards and shook off a fumble late in the first half.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a free-agent pickup from Green Bay, chipped in four catches for 44 yards.

Hardman only had three catches for 16 yards, but he easily could have had two more touchdowns on deep throws from Mahomes.

“I was missing Mecole,” Mahomes said. “I owe him two touchdowns, so I was glad I got him with the one at the end there. He was getting open, and he’s had a good camp getting open on those routes. I have to connect on those if we want to continue to get better.”

That’s really picking nits after the offense put up 44 points — the third-most in any season-opener in Chiefs franchise history — and racked up 488 total yards on offense.

Half of Kansas City’s 66 plays went for first downs despite the fact that Mahomes only threw three passes deeper than 20 yards all game.

The Chiefs were 6 of 9 converting on third and fourth downs.

Nine players caught passes, including six who had at least three receptions.

“We have kind of a brand new football team,” Mahomes said. “Some guys have been here for a while, but we have a lot of young guys that are stepping up and making plays. To see them play like they did today against a good football team, it's exciting because I know we're going to get better as the season goes on.”