The Kansas City Chiefs rallied to defeat the Cleveland Browns, 33-29, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon as the NFL season got underway in thrilling fashion.
Trailing by nine points with just over 10 minutes left to play following a Browns’ score, lightning stuck offensively when quarterback Patrick Mahomes – on the Chiefs’ first offensive play of their ensuing series – scrambled to his right before heaving a pass deep downfield in the direction of wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who adjusted his body to make the catch and sprint in for a 75-yard touchdown.
“I kind of started scrambling – I joked to Tyreek that I saw his little hand just pop up – and I was like if I just throw it far enough, [we can make a play],” Mahomes said. “I didn’t throw it far enough, but he adjusted to make the catch, and once he’s in space, it’s a touchdown.”
It was the kind of improbable play that the Chiefs have become synonymous with over the years, and it throttled Kansas City right back into the game. In fact, following a quick three-and-out series on the Browns’ next drive, Cleveland punter Jamie Gillan mishandled the snap and was swarmed by the Chiefs’ defenders to turn the ball over on downs deep in Browns’ territory.
Mahomes then found tight end Travis Kelce for an 8-yard touchdown just three snaps later, pushing Kansas City in front for the first time all game. It was a burst of thirteen unanswered points in the span of just over three minutes, and while the offense was finding the end zone, the defense did their part, too.
Cleveland was held to consecutive three-and-outs following each of Kansas City’s two scores, and despite one final possession at the end with two minutes remaining, Chiefs’ cornerback Mike Hughes – who was playing in his first game with Kansas City – intercepted Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield to seal the victory.
It marked the Chiefs’ 15th consecutive victory in the month of September and their 26th victory in their last 29 games overall, once again kicking off another campaign in the win column. Additionally, it was Kansas City’s seventh-consecutive victory on opening day.
“It was just a heck of a game. Our fans were unbelievable,” said Head Coach Andy Reid. “I loved every minute of it, and it made a difference. When you can get a punter to drop a ball, that’s pretty good for all your fans.”
Mahomes completed 27-of-36 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns in the game, scrambling for a 5-yard score on Kansas City’s second possession that narrowed the Browns’ advantage to just five points midway through the second quarter.
Cleveland answered with a touchdown of its own – an 18-yard rush by tailback Nick Chubb – to push the Browns’ lead to two scores before halftime, but the Chiefs once again pulled within five points when Mahomes found Kelce for an 11-yard touchdown on their opening drive of the third quarter.
The volley continued, however, when Browns’ tailback Kareem Hunt powered ahead for a 2-yard touchdown to extend the Cleveland advantage with just over 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Mahomes connected with Hill deep down the field on the Chiefs’ very next play though, and the comeback was on.
Hill finished the game with a team-leading 11 catches for 197 yards, which was the third-highest total of his impressive career. He did a significant portion of that damage when it mattered most, too, as Hill hauled in four catches for 53 yards on third down.
His performance helped Mahomes make some history, as the All-Pro quarterback broke the NFL records for passing yards (14,489) and passing touchdowns (117) through 50 career starts in league history despite only making his 47th start on Sunday.
Defensively, pass-rusher Chris Jones racked up two sacks while rookie linebacker Nick Bolton matched the team lead with seven tackles.
It all made for a euphoric return to football on Sunday as Kansas City reminded the rest of the NFL just how dangerous this team can be at any moment. The Chiefs will now turn their attention to the Baltimore Ravens for bout on Sunday Night Football next weekend.