Chiefs at Washington score: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City roar to win after slow start, even record at 3-3

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"Great teams aren't always great, they're just great when they have to be."

That quote from late NFL Films narrator John Facenda was applicable in Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Football Team. While it's too early to determine whether or not the 2021 Chiefs will ultimately be a great team, their 31-13 victory over Washington on Sunday displayed the resolve of a team that is trying to right the ship after a disappointing start to their season. The Chiefs are now even at 3-3, while Washington is 2-4 for a second straight year. 

Kansas City wasn't great during the first half. Far from it, as the Chiefs committed three turnovers that included two Patrick Mahomes interceptions. But in the second half, the Chiefs turned a 13-10 deficit into a double-digit victory. Kansas City did so by making key plays on both sides of the ball. They also received a classic Mahomes performance in the game's final 30 minutes, as the former league MVP hit Tyreek Hill for the go-ahead score with 4:07 left in the third quarter. It was the first of three straight touchdowns by the Chiefs' offense; Darrel Williams scored his second touchdown on a three-yard run, and Demarcus Robinson iced the game with a 24-yard touchdown catch with 3:14 left. Mahomes finished with 397 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions on 32 of 47 passing. 

Washington's defense fought gamely but ultimately could not overcome the shortcomings from its offense and special teams. The Football Team's offense did not make a single trip inside the red zone. Ahead 13-10, Dustin Hopkins missed a 42-yard field goal midway through the third quarter. The Chiefs capitalized on the miss with Williams' second touchdown run. Washington's lone touchdown came on Taylor Heinicke's 39-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Seals-Jones with 1:18 left in the first half. 

Here's a closer look at what transpired in the nation's capital. 

Why the Chiefs won  

Kansas City was able to survive a rocky first half. While it allowed one touchdown off a turnover, the Chiefs' defense was able to hold Washington to field goals instead of touchdowns on two occasions in the game's first 30 minutes.  

An example of the Chiefs' impressive defensive performance took place after Mahomes threw his first interception deep in Washington territory. Kansas City's defense forced a quick three-and-out, which set up a short field for Kansas City's offense. The Chiefs' offense parlayed the short field into Harrison Butker's 52-yard field goal.  

Kansas City's offense woke up in the second half. The offensive line gave Mahomes better protection while clearing the way for Williams on the ground. Hill and Kelce also woke up after both players had slow starts, as they combined to catch 17 passes for 175 yards. Their contributions in the second half helped the Chiefs' offense convert on eight straight third downs, with the eighth conversion coming on Mahomes' game-clinching touching pass to Robinson. 

Why the Football Team lost  

Washington failed to take full advantage of its big first half. Instead of having a sizable halftime lead, Washington had to settle for a 13-10 advantage. In the second half, when the Chiefs' offense was scoring touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, Washington's offense had two three-and-outs and an interception from quarterback Heinicke.  

After putting early pressure on Mahomes, Washington's defense struggled to contain the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback in the second half. They especially struggled to get off the field, as the Chiefs were 11-for-17 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down. 

While they ran for 94 yards on 18 carries, the Football Team had little success through the air. Heinicke threw for just 182 yards, while Terry McLaurin had just 28 yards on four receptions. Washington's biggest offensive contributor was J.D. McKissic, who had 45 yards on eight carries and 65 yards on eight receptions.  

Turning point  

Washington had the lead and momentum after forcing the Chiefs to punt on their first possession of the second half. But on third-and-2 on the Chiefs' 20-yard line, Heinicke's completion to Adam Humphries turned into a 4-yard loss after it was snuffed out by Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill. Hopkins missed his 42-yard attempt on the game's play next play, and the Chiefs scored the first of their three unanswered touchdowns moments later.  

Play of the game 

The Chiefs' second scoring drive in the second half included some Mahomes magic. On third-and-6 from the Washington 18-yard line, Mahomes started to run before he flicked a completion to Kelce that went for 11 yards. Williams scored his second touchdown on the very next play. 

While it didn't count due to offsetting penalties, Mahomes made several jaws drop when he managed to find Hill for this completion on the Chiefs' ensuing drive. 

Quotables 

"I threw that dumb interception ... everyone came and told me 'You be you.'" -- Mahomes on what was said on the sideline after his second pick of the game, which came after he was under considerable duress by the Football Team's pass rush, via Aaron Ladd of KSHB. Mahomes threw two touchdowns and no interceptions after the turnover. 

"We're going to get this turned around and it'll be a pretty nice picture." -- Chiefs coach Andy Reid on his team, which made up ground on the first-place Chargers after Los Angeles fell in Baltimore on Sunday. 

What's next 

Kansas City will stay on the road for next Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. Washington will travel to Green Bay for a showdown against the Packers. Green Bay improved to 5-1 following Sunday's win over the Bears. The 3-2 Titans will cap off Week 6 with a home game Monday night against the Bills. 

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WAS +6.5, o54
WAS 6.5, O/U 54

Season Leaders

passing
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P. Mahomes4839 YD, 37 TDS, 13 INTS
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P. Mahomes4839 YD, 37 TDS, 13 INTS
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T. Heinicke3419 YD, 20 TDS, 15 INTS
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T. Heinicke3419 YD, 20 TDS, 15 INTS
rushing
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D. Williams144 ATT, 558 YD, 6 TDS
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D. Williams144 ATT, 558 YD, 6 TDS
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A. Gibson258 ATT, 1037 YD, 7 TDS
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A. Gibson258 ATT, 1037 YD, 7 TDS
receiving
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T. Hill111 REC, 1239 YD, 9 TDS
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T. Hill111 REC, 1239 YD, 9 TDS
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T. McLaurin77 REC, 1053 YD, 5 TDS
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T. McLaurin77 REC, 1053 YD, 5 TDS
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October 17, 2021, 8:45 PM
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October 17, 2021, 8:41 PM
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October 17, 2021, 8:34 PM
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October 17, 2021, 8:21 PM
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@Chiefs via Twitter
October 17, 2021, 8:00 PM
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What slow start? The Chiefs have scored 31 points and have a commanding 31-13 lead. A big difference was the elevated play of Hill and Kelce in the second half, which has opened things up for Williams, Hardman and Robinson. 

October 17, 2021, 7:59 PM
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Unreal completion just now from Mahomes to Hill. The play won't count (offsetting penalty), but it just shows the great athleticism of Mahomes and his great communication with Hill. 

October 17, 2021, 7:49 PM
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Travis Kelce clutching his hand on the sideline right now. Something to monitor as the Chiefs are looking to close out the game. They got one step closer to do that, as Mahomes picks up a first down with his legs on third-and-four. 

October 17, 2021, 7:43 PM
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@WashingtonNFL via Twitter
October 17, 2021, 7:33 PM
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@WashingtonNFL via Twitter
October 17, 2021, 7:32 PM
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Incredible play by Mahomes on that third-down play. Looked like he was going to run and at the last second flicked the ball to Kelce, who picked up 11 yards and a first down. 

October 17, 2021, 7:31 PM
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@Chiefs via Twitter
October 17, 2021, 7:30 PM
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Chiefs looked poised to start pulling away from Washington. Mahomes has gotten into a nice groove and the line is opening up nice holes for Williams, who is up to 51 yards on 13 carries. 

October 17, 2021, 7:24 PM
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Two of the Chiefs' best defensive players step up big on third down. Frank Clark pressured Heinicke, who threw an errant pass that was deflected by Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu playing with a hand injury but has done a good job hanging in there. 

October 17, 2021, 7:22 PM
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October 17, 2021, 7:15 PM
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