The Kansas City Chiefs’ season started with a bang: a resounding 44-21 road win over the Arizona Cardinals, which ended early enough for substitutes to arrive during the second half. The new-look attack (and the young defense) both asserted themselves against an outclassed and shorthanded opponent.
Here are a few who stood out as the Chiefs went 1-0 for the eighth straight year.
To note: The application of the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to pass judgment on the skill or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to rate their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Kansas City’s offense was nearly unstoppable in the first half, and Edwards-Helaire was the center of it all. It was a great start to his season, which featured some pretty explosive plays that included an 18-yard run and a 25-yard catch. The third-year running back finished with 10 touches for 64 yards and two receiving touchdowns. But if the game had been closer in the second half, one would have to think that he might have had more work later on.
Isaiah Pacheco: The back that did owning the second half was the highly touted seventh-round rookie. Pacheco came on to close out the game, getting the job done with his own explosive runs. His 12 carries for 62 yards led all Kansas City running backs. It certainly looks like he’ll be part of the attack this season.
Patrick Mahomes: No Tyrek? No problem. The quarterback targeted 10 different receivers in a masterful display that reminded the league that he’s still the best player in the world, racking up five touchdown passes while playing with an injured left wrist. Mahomes was even kind enough to take a big enough lead to get reps for his friend Chad Henne – and to chase Pacheco’s first touchdown.
Travis Kelce: Now that he is 32, some might have expected Kelce’s game to decline. But if they did, they didn’t watch it closely enough. On Sunday, Kelce looked like he could play another 10 years, scoring the first touchdown of the season and finishing the game with 121 yards on eight catches. He is off to another record season.
Nick Bolton: The sophomore linebacker picked up where he left off in 2021 with another 10-tackle performance. His improved instincts and speed of play were evident against the Cardinals. He looks like a potential All-Pro.
Harrison Butker: With a hat-trick to Justin Reid – who replaced a few kicks – Butker put in an impressive and gritty performance on Sunday. After injuring his ankle – which made it very difficult to lay down and approach his kicks – he returned to the field to score an almost off-guard field goal from 54 yards. And he was perfect on four additional points.
Juan Thorn Hill: Before the season, he predicted he would be All-Pro. In Game 1, Thornhill made at least a few plays that might lead us to believe this could happen. With some spectacular passing breakups on long down passes, it seems his reach and ball skills are as strong as his confidence.
Mecole Hardman: After scoring a touchdown in Game 1, it might seem strange to see the fourth-year wide off on this list. But with just three catches on six targets, Hardman definitely left a few plays on the field – including at least one that would have been a touchdown had he finished the play. Hardman was even overshadowed in his punt return duties by rookie Skyy Moore, who took over after Hardman’s first attempt went just three yards. Hardman will have some big moments this season – but aside from his touchdown, Week 1 didn’t give us much to be excited about.
George Karlaftis: It was a very quiet start for the Purdue rookie – but some of it could have been intentional. The defensive end didn’t make any impact plays against the Cardinals, registering just one tackle. But the game plan against Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray likely called for Karlaftis and fellow defensive end Frank Clark to hang back and contain Murray, preventing him from escaping the pocket. (Murray had just 29 rushing yards in the game). Perhaps on Thursday we’ll see Karlaftis’ newly upgraded bag celebration.
The Chiefs depth chart: OK… so it’s not a specific player – and we can’t blame anyone for the injuries – but on Sunday they really piled up. In addition to Mahomes’ wrist and Butker’s ankle, cornerback Trent McDuffie, wide receiver Justin Watson and right guard Trey Smith also suffered injuries. With the Los Angeles Chargers game looming on Thursday night, the timing couldn’t be worse. Kansas City’s depth will be tested this season early.
#winners #losers #Chiefs #win #Cardinals