An animated exchange between Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy just before halftime of the team’s 20-17 loss at Indianapolis raised eyebrows on Sunday but head coach Andy Reid says it was much ado about nothing.
“If you heard the words, that wasn’t – I don’t know how it looked to you guys but that wasn’t a confrontation at all,” Reid said after the game. “That’s not what it was.”
Mahomes backed up his head coach on that contention.
“I pretty much just said, ‘Let me have a chance at it,'” Mahomes explained, “then he was just like, ‘Let’s get back in our locker room and we’ll get something going for the next half.’ I don’t know if that’s an altercation but that was the end of the conversation.”
It made for good halftime viewing and lip reading, but the Chiefs claim social media speculation got it mostly wrong.
With under 1 minute to go in the first half, the Chiefs used two timeouts on defense to save time for one more possession, starting the final drive of the half at their own 46-yard line after a 12-yard punt return by Skyy Moore.
On first down, Mahomes missed a deep throw to receiver Justin Watson but a holding call against Trey Smith pushed the Chiefs back to their own 36-yard line. On the replayed down, Mahomes stepped up in the pocket but couldn’t find a receiver and fired a deep ball over the heads of receivers and defenders into the end zone. That stopped the clock with 20 seconds on the clock and the Chiefs left with no timeouts.
That’s when the alleged fireworks started.
The call from the sideline was for a draw play to running back Jerick McKinnon that went for a 6-yard gain to the Chiefs’ 42-yard line. Mahomes, who finished the first half 10-of-15 passing for 84 yards and a touchdown, craved one more chance to throw the ball rather than run out of the clock.
“I tried to go deep the first two times, and obviously they were in a deep coverage,” Mahomes explained. “All I said was, ‘I’m not going to turn it over, I’ll get it out, try to get to the sideline and give us a chance to kick a field goal.'”
Reid said a hurry-up Hail Mary from beyond midfield was never in the conversation — “(it was) something else that we have in the plan.” But Mahomes’ frustration was with the second-down running play rather than allowing him an opportunity to move into scoring range with a quick play out of bounds.
The head coach disagreed with his quarterback and preferred to play it conservatively with the Chiefs receiving the second-half kickoff.
“I thought it was just best not to do it,” Reid said. “He’s a competitive kid and he wants to take advantage of every opportunity. I thought it was best just to let that ride there.”
One thing Mahomes and Reid both made clear is that the decision was made by the head coach, whom senior assistant and quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy reminded everyone this week famously owns “51%” of the vote on offensive play calling. Mahomes pleaded his case with Bieniemy, but both the quarterback and head coach deny the conversation was heated.
Mahomes reluctantly accepted the decision, and ultimately he didn’t believe it impacted the game’s outcome.
“It was a tough situation,” Mahomes said. “Me, I’m on the field, I’m playing, I want to always try to go score, that’s who I am. But that’s their job is to make sure they manage the game the right way. We had multiple chances to win after that. We just got to be better the second half.”