If any doubts lingered about Patrick Mahomes as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, the young quarterback erased those concerns away along with a few pages from the NFL thanks to his 10 touchdown passes in the first two games of the season as team held off the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-37.
“You never expect to have ten touchdowns at this point in the season,” Mahomes told reporters following the game, “but I knew with this offense and the weapons that we have, and the scheme coach (Andy) Reid drawn up, that we had a chance to be really, really good and that the possibilities are endless.”
Mahomes completed 23-of 28 passing for 326 and six touchdowns, tying a franchise record for touchdown passes set by Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson in 1964.
That total gives Mahomes 10 touchdowns in the first two games of the season, the most touchdown passes by a quarterback in the first two games of a season since at least 1950. The eclipsed the mark of nine set by Peyton Manning (2013), Drew Brees (2009) and Charley Johnson (1965).
With 10 touchdowns passes through his first three NFL starts dating back to Week 17, that gives Mahomes the record for a quarterback in the first three games of a career during the same timeframe. Marcus Mariota and Mark Rypien threw for eight touchdown passes in the first three games of their careers.
The Chiefs bolted out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and appeared on their way to a blowout victory. But the Steelers fought back behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, rallying to tie the game before the half.
Roethlisberger finished 39-of-60 passing for 452 yards and three touchdowns. All three of his touchdown passes came during the second quarter as the Steelers worked their way back into the game Head coach Mike Tomlin said the offense struggled early due to mistakes that limited their play options.
“We were behind the chains,” Tomlin said. “We were getting penalties. We got a block in the back, we got a holding. When that puts you at first-and-20 or second-and-20 that’s what the early portions of the game were about for us offensively.”
Tomlin said he didn't believe the bruised right elbow that limited Roethlisberger in practice this week played any role in the game.
“Not to my knowledge, no,” Tomlin said. “I didn’t think he had any physical limits.”
With that game tied at the half, Mahomes, who turns 23 years old Monday, stepped up to lead his team at halftime, Reid said.
“He’s all in,” Reid said. “I mean, he came in at halftime and it was very positive. He was leading that charge and talk. He’s not shy when he’s around the guys at all.”
Mahomes said he treated the second half as it the game started all over again.
“You get one half to go out there, leave it all on the line, and I feel like on both sides of the ball people stepped up, made plays, dug deep,” Mahomes said. “It was a hot game, a lot of plays out there, and guys were out there making plays.”
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce led the Chiefs with seven catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He said the Chiefs already have confidence in Mahomes as their leader just three games into his NFL starting career.
“Without a doubt,” Kelce said. “I see Pat doing this all season long. He’s got the confidence, and as long as we give him time and get open as wideouts, tight ends, and running backs, he’s going to get the best of everyone.”
The Chiefs head back to Kansas City to prepare for next Sunday's home opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Defensive end Chris Jones said it feels good heading home with back-to-back road win under their belt.
“We know the fans are going to be excited,” Jones said. “Coming off of 2-0 on the road, so, it’s very huge for us to continue to pound the ball on the ground and continue to score points, and then continue to make fronts on defense.”