You can pick whichever NFL cliché you like. A win is all that matters. A win is a win. They all count the same in the record book. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. Whichever is your favorite, they all sum up most Kansas City Chiefs fans feelings about the Chiefs ugly 23-20 win over the New York Jets on Sunday night.
The Chiefs started off the night hot, opening up a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. At that point it looked like KC was going to cruise to a blowout win for the second week in a row. Then something strange happened. For most of the second and third quarters Patrick Mahomes started playing like Zach Wilson and Zach Wilson started playing like Patrick Mahomes.
We've seen Mahomes a little off or out of rhythm before, but for most of those two quarters he was just plain bad. His throws and decision making were clearly off to the extent that many were wondering if he was injured. That stretch of bad offensive play allowed an inferior Jets offense to not only stay in the game, but to catch up with them.
Were there some questionable calls that went against KC in the first half? Yes. Were the KC wideouts struggling to make plays again? Sure. Was the NY pass rush rattling Mahomes a little? Possibly, but I struggle to put the blame for Mahomes play for the middle part of the game on anyone except Mahomes. He simply wasn't good.
Here's the thing though, Mahomes (and the Chiefs) still found a way to win. The win made KC one of just four teams in the AFC to have a winnng record at 3-1, with all the other teams in the conference sitting at 2-2 or 1-3. Many will now have the Buffalo Bills as the team to beat in the AFC after their commanding 48-20 win over the Miami Dolphins who came into that game 3-0. However, the Bills played a very similar ugly game against this Jets team in New York to start the season and they couldn't find a way to pull it out like the Chiefs did.
When Mahomes couldn't hit anything downfield the Chiefs turned to their running game and quick passes. Isiah Pacheco had a career day with 157 total yards that included an impressive 48 yard touchdown run. Mahomes helped seal the game away with his legs as well, totalling 51 yards rushing on the game including two huge late rushes on the final drive. It's certainly not the first time Mahomes has made plays with his legs, but with his uncharacteristic issues throwing the ball it came in extra handy in this one.
Those rushing yards were part of the late clutch performance by the entire offense to hold off the scrappy Jets team. The Chiefs running game (including Mahomes) were able to run out the rest of the game after Zach Wilson had a costly fumbled snap that the Chiefs recovered in the mid 4th quarter.
There was a lot of buzz after the game (and during the game from Jets coach Robert Saleh) about a defensive holding call on Sauce Gardener that helped extend that drive. Do I think the call could have gone either way? Yes, but the people (Saleh included) raging like it's this incredibly egregious call are overdoing it. As Marquez Valdes-Scantling is trying to pull away from him he reached up with his right arm and briefly grabbed MVS on the back of the neck and shoulder to keep his momentum from going away from him. There were worse calls made against KC in the first half in my opinion.
The bottom line is that on a night where things went uncharacteristically wrong for the best quarterback in the NFL, the Chiefs still found a way to hang on and get a win. After allowing the Jets to tie the game at 20, the defense got their act together, culminating with Turk Wharton jumping on the fumbled snap by Zach Wilson. Isiah Pacheco came up huge multiple times and on a night when his arm wasn't making many plays, Patrick Mahomes found a way to make them with his legs when the game was on the line. "A win is all that matters" may sound cliché, but on Sunday night it was absolutely true for the Kansas City Chiefs.