DENVER — Patrick Mahomes already carries a reputation for a certain amount of wizardry as a passer, and his sleight of hand while leading the Chiefs to a come-from-behind 27-24 win over the Broncos Monday night certainly made running back Kareem Hunt question the origin of his quarterback's sorcery.
“Is this dude a magician or something?” Hunt asked after the game. “He's doing things that you really don't see often.”
One week ago against the San Francisco 49ers, Mahomes delivered The Scramble, a daring 45-yard escape that concluded with a 30-yard dart to receiver Chris Conley for a meager 4-yard touchdown. But the second-year gunslinger decided to add two more plays to his ever-growing list of never-before-seen reel of highlight plays.
With the Chiefs trailing 23-20 with a little more than 3 minutes to play, Mahomes made the first of his heroic throws. Facing third-and-5 from his own 45-yard line, the quarterback scrambled to his left and didn't have an angle to release the ball with his right hand – so naturally he tossed the ball left handed to receiver Tyreek Hill for a 6-yard gain a first down.
“I felt (Broncos linebacker) Von Miller on my back and knew I couldn't throw it with my right hand,” Mahomes said. “I knew we needed the first down, so I kind of shot-putted it to Tyreek.”
Miller pursued Mahomes out of the pocket and had him in his sights, trying to clip him by the ankles and bring him down.
“I knew he was getting ready to throw it though,” Miller said. “I kind of felt it. But I didn't know he threw it with his left hand. He's a great quarterback.”
The Broncos laid nine quarterback hits on Mahomes but picked up just one sack with no loss of yards on the play. Denver head coach Vance Joseph felt his pass rushers did their job, but simply couldn't get Mahomes in their grasp.
“We couldn't get him on the ground,” Joseph said. “We had a bunch of good pressures. We pushed him out of the pcoket, we lost contain a couple of times, and he stepped out of a couple of sacks.”
Head coach Andy Reid said he's seen Mahomes throw the ball left handed in practice, but never under anything close to the conditions he found himself on Monday night.
“I've worked really hard on that left-handed throw, making sure he can do that,” Reid laughed.
Hill, threw a pass in a game against the Broncos last season that went for an interception.
“Pat actually throws better than me, and I'm left-handed, so that's crazy,” Hill said. “I don't even know what to say. Pat just does a great job looking down the field and trusting us.”
The Chiefs put that trust to the test just a few plays later. After a penalty for intentional grounding followed by a holding call on center Mitch Morse, the Chiefs found themselves facing second-and-30 from their own 31 yards. But Mahomes had some more tricks up his sleeve.
A 23-yard completion to Demarcus Robinson got them most of the way there, then Mahomes found tight end Demetrius Harris for 35 more yards to the Denver 11, setting up a game-winning touchdown run a few plays later by Kareem Hunt.
Robinson said Mahomes kept his composure in the huddle and never left his teammates in any doubt they could convert the first down.
“I think we can get a first down from anywhere on the field, for real,” Robinson said.
Hunt concurred, explaining how Mahomes encouraged the offense during the fourth-quarter rally as the Chiefs scored 14 points in the final frame.
“He was over there uplifting us like, 'We're good, we're going to score here and then we're going to go down and let the defense stop them and then score again,'” Hunt said.
Even the Chiefs defensive players couldn't contain their amazement and Mahomes converting second-and-30 for a first down. Safety Eric Murray laughed when asked what went through his mind watching Mahomes hit the jackpot on the throws to Robinson and Harris.
“I don't know, just Patty got it,” Murray said with a laugh. “He got it. He got it. I don't know what else to say. He just got it.”