KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt seemed to find every imaginable way to rumble around and through – or even hurdle over – would-be tacklers on his way to three touchdowns Sunday night in 45-10 win against Cincinnati, yet he credits his quarterback Patrick Mahomes for his recent run of success.
“People are starting to watch film on Pat now, so I'm going to make it easy for him,” Hunt said. “I tell him you do all the cute stuff and I handle all the dirty work.”
Hunt and running back mate Spencer Ware indeed handle all the dirty work Sunday combining for 230 yards of offense. Hunt piled up 86 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown, then added 55 yards more receiving with two touchdowns. Ware chipped in with 59 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards.
“(Hunt) did his thing, the O-line did a heck of a job,” Ware said, who “We went out there and played physical and executed.”
Hunt got the Chiefs rolling on their drive, picking up 48 yards of offense and finishing it off with a 6-yard touchdown catch. But the most impressive moment came on a play that seemed destined to go nowhere.
Mahomes handed the ball to Hunt on a run-pass option, and the quarterback conceded he made the wrong read and should have kept the ball for a pass. Hunt looked bottle up by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, but he spun out of the tackle and found running room. He then hurdled safety Jessie Bates and rumbled for 21 yards to the Bengals' 6-yard line.
“He had just broken a tackle and I felt like he had just started to run and out of instinct jumped over him,” Mahomes said. “Hopefully we can keep him from jumping over too many guys too often.”
Hunt said he wanted to get the team's offense jump started early and in the end zone after settling for too many field goals last week against New England.
“I'm never going to give up on a play,” Hunt said. “I'm going to fight for every last inch until they make sure I'm down.”
Head coach Andy Reid said he didn't recall seeing a player hurdle a tackle as elevated as Hunt got over Bates.
“Kareem, and he did this last year, too, but he’s playing as well as any running back in the National Football League,” Reid said. “He is not only running the ball like crazy, he’s also catching the football.”
After the Chiefs missed a field goal on their next drive, Hunt got the team in the end zone again in building a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Hunt took a short pass from Mahomes, shook a tackle from linebacker Vontaze Burfict and dove over the pylon for a 15-yard touchdown.
“You got to want it,” Hunt said. “I'm just the guy who's going to come in and try my best to make every effort possible to score a touchdown.
Tight end Demetrius Harris said Hunt runs like a bull. Hunt thinks another hard-nose worker, however, as his spirit animal.
“I like that, I like a bull,” Hunt said. “But I like to be an ox too. I like that. I want to be running like an ox out there.”
Hunt has averaged 148.8 yards from scrimmage per game in the last four games after averaging just 57.7 through the first three games of the season. But he feels this four-game stretch reflects more about the offense than his role alone.
“It's not even about me, it's about the team winning,” Hunt said. “Whatever I can do to help the team win, I'm a team guy. I'm down to do whatever.
Ware's 89 yards from scrimmage marked his best performance so far since returning from a devastating knee injuring during the preseason in 2017. He suffered damage to the posterolateral corner of his knee, an injury from which few players make a successful recovery. So far Ware continues beating the odds.
He nearly reached the end zone for his first touchdown since returning from the injury, ripping off a 34-yard run to the Cincinnati 11-yard line late in the fourth quarter before losing his footing and going to the ground.
“Working back, getting better and better each and every week,” Ware said. “Got to make that play.”
Hunt and Ware did their damage behind an offensive line missing center Mitch Morse, who remains in the league's concussion protocol following a head injury last week, and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who went on injured reserve with a fractured tibia and ligament damage in his ankle.
Filling in are center Jordan Devey and right guard Andrew Wylie, both of whom Hunt said did yeoman's work creating running lanes against the Bengals.
“It was definitely good, those guys came in and gave their best effort,” Hunt said. “If you go a hundred percent with me, I can't be mad at you as long as you're giving it everything you got.”
Hunt could have topped the 100-yard rushing mark, but Reid pulled him from the game along with a few other starters in the fourth quarter. But he said he takes his hat off to Hunt for his performance the last four games.
“I think he is playing great football right now, and tough football,” Reid said. “He's punishing right now and it's something to watch.”