KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After scoring three touchdowns including the first two rushing scores of his NFL career, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman pointed toward his teammates when asked what made him most proud in Kansas City’s 44-23 romp over San Francisco.
“First you should go to the OL and the O,” Hardman told reporters after the win. “Orlando Brown, I don’t know if you all saw him, but he was getting out on the edge, right? Jody Fortson had a key block out there, too, so without them, I wouldn’t get into the end zone.”
“I think coach called the play at the right time and we executed it,” Hardman said.
On all three touchdowns, Hardman took possession of the football behind the line of scrimmage. Head coach Andy Reid credited offensive line coach Andy Heck for putting the jet sweeps and the pop plays into the game plan against the 49ers.
“I thought Mecole did a heck of a job going fast, being patient and then hitting it,” Reid said. “Our guys blocked it well. I think he had three touchdowns on it, that was the same play really three different times.”
With the Chiefs trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, Hardman received a pop pass from Patrick Mahomes and raced around the left edge for an 8-yard score.
Hardman also supplied Kansas City’s next score, take a handoff on a jet sweep around the right edge and racing 25 yards for the touchdown, with a little help from tight end Noah Gray.
“I didn’t want to go out of bounds,” Hardman said. “I saw Noah, got off the block of Noah, I went back left and I was like, ‘It’s wide open over here, let’s just go over here then.’ So I kind of just went back left and go back right, so they kind of didn’t do a good job of flowing over there so I just took advantage.
Early in the fourth quarter, after San Francisco closed the gap to 28-23, Hardman again reached the end zone on a 3-yard run off a jet sweep that put the Chiefs up 35-23.
Hardman became the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era with at least two rushing touchdowns and at least one receiving touchdown in a game, according to NFL Research.
The pop passes and jet sweeps that are cornerstones of the Chiefs’ red-zone offense were instrumental to Hardman’s success on Sunday. He’s becoming a master of the art form in his NFL fourth campaign.
“I think I got a good feel for it, honestly just the vision and trying to find the little holes and little gaps between the defenses to try to hit,” Hardman said. “If you can get through them with speed and you try to get somebody one-on-one, it’s going to be a long day for that defender, so I just try to do that.”
Despite Sunday’s big game, Hardman was looking forward to getting back to Kansas City and resting the sore heel that has plagued him through the first seven weeks of the season. He says it still hurts but he’s hoping the bye week allows for additional healing.
“Just battling through it, just doing different things and padding in the cleat, doing different tape jobs to take pressure off the heel a little bit,” Hardman said. “As every week go on, it kind of lessens and lessens, so now with this bye week hopefully I can get back to 100 and get back to full speed.”
Reid reported no new injuries after Sunday’s game, and actually delivered a positive message regarding three players who missed the contest with injuries.
Defensive end Mike Danna (calf) and cornerbacks Rashad Fenton (hamstring) and Trent McDuffie (hamstring) all should be available when the Chiefs get back on the practice field in 10 days following the bye week.
“we have a chance of getting back here this next week here,” Reid said.
McDuffie remains on injured reserve but he was designated to return on Oct. 12, starting a 21-day window during which he can practice without being returned to the active roster. The Chiefs have until Nov. 1 to activate McDuffie to the 53-player roster.
Faith in Skyy
Two first-half turnovers slowed the Chiefs’ offense with Skyy Moore playing a key role in both snafus yet Reid maintained faith in his rookie receiver.
“He from what I see, No. 1 he doesn’t hang his head, and No. 2 is he learns from his mistakes,” Reid said.
The first turnover occurred on Kansas City’s opening drive. On third-and-7 from the Chiefs’ 28-yard line, Mahomes fired a pass over the middle intended for Moore but safety Tashaun Gipson jumped the route and knocked the ball in the air. Safety Talanoa Hufanga, his running mate at safety raced in to make a diving interception.
Reid said Moore was supposed to run a wraparound route and wasn’t where Mahomes was expecting.
“He got a little too high,” Reid explained. “Pat trusts him, that was the positive part, so the next time around we’ll knock that thing out. They talked through it, and that was a good thing. Good learning experience though.”
Late in the first half Moore signaled for a fair catch on a punt inside his own 10-yard line but appeared to misjudge the angle. The ball landed short of his reach, and the 49ers recovered the ball. Even though the miscue appeared similar to a muffed punt by Moore against the Colts in Week 3, Reid professed faith in the rookie as a punt returner.
“That was a tweener thing going on there, and he’ll learn from that,” Reid said. “I’m not that worried about him.”
By the numbers
55: Mahomes made regular-season career start No. 70 on Sunday and picked up win No. 55. His 55-15 record at this point in this career is tied for the second-most wins along with Pro Football Hall of Famer Ken Stabler. Another Pro Football Hall of Famer, Otto Graham owns the best record through 70 starts at 56-14.
529: The Chiefs offense piled up the yards on Sunday, finishing with 417 net yards passing and 112 yards rushing. The total of 529 ranks No. 17 in team history for most yards of offense in a game. The franchise record is 614 yards against the Broncos on Oct. 23, 1966. It’s the sixth-straight season in which the Chiefs have had a 500-yard offense game. Of the 17 games with at least 529 yards of offense, six have come in with Mahomes at quarterback.
1,726: Mahomes moved into second place in club history for career pass competitions, finishing the game with 1,726. Trent Green previously ranked No. 2 with 1,720 pass completions. The club record belongs to Pro Football Hall of Famer Len Dawson with 2,115. Based on his career per-game average for completions, Mahomes would reach Dawson’s record in 16 more games.
It’s a bye week for the Chiefs, who will next take their 5-2 record into a Sunday night showdown against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 6. Kickoff is 7:20 p.m.