It’s no secret that Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have been excellent since he took the reins of the offense in 2018. The fact that they’ve been this good for this long makes where the quarterback and the team are at in 2021 all the more surprising. Nothing illustrates the bad place the franchise is currently in more than, not just the 27-3 loss this week to the Tennessee Titans, but the amazing streak that Mike Vrabel’s team snapped in Nashville.
The Tennessee Titans dominated Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs
The Tennessee Titans are a good team. They lost to the Arizona Cardinals — just like every other team that’s faced them — and they lost in overtime to the lowly New York Jets without their top two receivers, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.
Outside of that, Tennessee has beat some good teams, including the Seattle Seahawks (with Russell Wilson), the Indianapolis Colts, and the Buffalo Bills.
That said, what they did to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Nashville was more about the Chiefs than the Titans.
The Titans followed the same script that the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, and Bills followed to beat KC.
That script is: do whatever you want on offense because the Chiefs defense is atrocious, protect against the deep ball to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and pressure Mahomes into trying to do too much and making silly mistakes.
Check, check, and check.
The Titans’ offense did what it does best. The unit ran the ball with Derrick Henry (29 carries, 89 yards), and play-action passed to A.J. Brown (8 catches for 133 yards.) The defense held Kelce (7 for 65) and Hill (6 for 49) in check and pressured Mahomes to the tune of four sacks, one interception, and just 206 passing yards with a dreadful 62.3 quarterback rating.
While beating Kansas City this way in 2021 has become somewhat paint-by-numbers for good teams, the Titans also did something that no other tea has done during the Patrick Mahomes Era.
The team failed to do something for the first time ever with Mahomes at the helm
For the first time since Patrick Mahomes took over the Kansas City Chiefs offense in 2018, the team didn’t score a touchdown in a regular-season game.
Sure, Mahomes has had down games before. Most notably, last Super Bowl when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held Kansas City and its star QB without a touchdown for the first time ever in the Mahomes Era.
As far as the regular season goes, in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions in 2019, Mahomes didn’t throw or run for a touchdown. However, his running backs popped it in the end zone three times, and the defense also scored in a 34-30 win.
His fifth game as a starter in 2018 was the last time he didn’t throw at least one TD pass. He did run it in for a score in a Week 5 30-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, though.
Prior to this three-point showing in Tennessee, the lowest amount of points Mahomes has ever scored in a loss is 13 (2019 Week 5 vs. Colts).
Holding Mahomes and the Chiefs to a single field goal is a huge accomplishment for the Titans’ defense, but it also speaks volumes about where the Chiefs are after seven weeks in 2021.
The Chiefs are in real danger of missing the playoffs
Dropping to 3-4 on the season put the Kansas City Chiefs in a terrible spot. Now, the team and its fans must consider the real possibility that the AFC’s representative in the last two Super Bowls may not make the playoffs in 2021.
Mahomes’ squad takes on the New York Giants on next week’s Monday Night Football which is both a should- and a must-win game for the Chiefs. They also have two divisional games left against Denver Broncos. If the team can win these three games, it gets them to six wins.
The problem is that the rest of their schedule is tough as last year’s AFC West winner.
Kansas City still has two games against the division-leading Las Vegas Raiders as well as the (first place) Green Bay Packers, (first place) Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and (first place) Cincinnati Bengals.
To get an AFC Wildcard spot, Mahomes and company will need to find at least four wins in those six games. If they keep playing like they’re playing, that will be somewhere between difficult to downright impossible.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference