Sometimes you start off on the wrong foot. In the case of various Chiefs receivers, however, it was more like they started off the 2023 season with feet for hands. The Lions were able to come into Arrowhead Stadium and crash Kansas City's Super Bowl celebration by handing them a sobering 21-20 loss in the NFL's regular-season opener. While Detroit played well enough to win this game, it also didn't come without errors from the Kansas City side, specifically Kadarius Toney and a copious amount of drops.
In the wake of losing All-Pro tight end and No. 1 pass-catching option Travis Kelce for this game due to a knee injury, an opportunity presented itself for Chiefs wideouts to step up and carry the load. Instead, they -- quite literally -- let it slip through their fingers. Toney was the main culprit, although others -- like 2022 second-round pick Skyy Moore -- didn't help out the cause.
Toney was credited for three drops on the night. That included a demoralizing drop on a throw by Patrick Mahomes that hit him in stride and squarely in his hands during a third-and-6 play in the third quarter. Instead of Toney hauling in the pass and turning upfield to attempt to move the chains, the ball bounced out of his hands and into the arms of Lions rookie defensive back Brian Branch, who took the ball 50 yards to the house for a pick-six that tied the game at 14 apiece.
Following his rough night, Toney faced the wrath of angry fans on social media and on Friday morning he decided enough was enough and deleted his account on X. His Instagram account remains active with comments restricted.
Toney received support after the game from Mahomes, who doesn't appear to be ready to give up on his teammate after one bad night.
"I have trust in KT. He missed a lot of training camp," Mahomes said, via NFL Media. "Obviously, he wanted to play and fought in rehab hard so he could play. Stuff is not always going to go your way, obviously, he would have wanted to catch a few of those in the game, but I have trust that he is going to be the guy that I go to in those crucial moments and he's going to make the catch and win us some games like he did last year and get him more and more reps. I'm sure that those drops will disappear."
Toney now has nine drops on 82 career targets, the highest drop rate (11.0%) in the NFL since he entered the league in 2021 among 105 wide receivers with 75+ targets.
A couple of drives later, the Chiefs were threatening to find the end zone, but faced a third-and-2 play from the Detroit 17. Mahomes dropped back and there seemed to be some confusion between Toney and fellow Chiefs receiver Richie James, who shielded him from the play and resulted in another drop rather than converting the first down.
Moore was the other key culprit in the overall rough night for Chiefs pass catchers. In their last gasp of the night, Andy Reid left the offense on the field for a fourth-and-25 attempt, which Mahomes nearly converted. After dancing around the pocket, the defending league MVP threw a pass at the first-down marker that hit a leaping Moore in both hands, but he couldn't haul it in.
As a team, Kansas City had four drops on the night, which is tied for second most in a game with Mahomes as the team's starting quarterback. He also registered just 12 yards on 12 targets to wide receivers in the second half, which is his fewest yards per attempt (1.0) targeting receivers in a half in his career.
Needless to say, the Chiefs need Kelce back in the fold as soon as possible.