Why Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins’ career day could be a sign of things to come

Chiefs’ Sammy Watkins talks about his first touchdown against the Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs' wide receiver Sammy Watkins described the first touchdown he scored against the Jaguars Sunday in Jacksonville.
Up Next
Kansas City Chiefs' wide receiver Sammy Watkins described the first touchdown he scored against the Jaguars Sunday in Jacksonville.

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins never expected the football to be thrown his way.

Well, not on his first catch anyway.

In fairness, quarterback Patrick Mahomes never planned to throw it to him, either. Mahomes looked initially to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, but his route stayed behind the sticks on a third-down play. He next turned to tight end Travis Kelce, but Kelce was well covered.

The he hit Watkins.

The receiver took care of the rest. A defender cruised past him in an attempt to break up the pass. Too late. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey sized him up in the secondary. No chance.

One cut, gone.

One play, and the Chiefs made a statement in their 40-26 win in Jacksonville: The offense is back.

So is Watkins. And statistically speaking, he was better than ever Sunday, setting career-highs with 198 yards and three touchdowns.

“I’ve never had a touchdown in this league to break a tackle and run (68) yards. It was great,” Watkins said.

He was aided by a key block in the secondary from wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. As Watkins then outraced the Jaguars’ defensive backfield to cap the Chiefs’ opening drive, Mahomes turned to the sideline to celebrate. He didn’t need to see the entire path to the end zone — he knew how it would finish.

“The best thing about this offense is it seems like if we can make one guy miss and the guys get open space, they usually score,” Mahomes said. “So once I saw him make (Ramsey) miss, and it was just a foot race, I knew he was going to get there.”

On the sideline, players joked with Watkins that it was as if he was back to his Clemson days. They intended to refer to the speed he showed on the 68-yard touchdown, the game’s longest play. But it’s applicable elsewhere, too, in signs that perhaps suggest there could be more days like this ahead.

Watkins caught nine of his 11 targets, a career day when the Chiefs played three quarters without Hill, who left the game early with a shoulder injury. On multiple occasions, Watkins made defenders whiff after the catch.

Kansas City Chief's coach Andy Reid discusses Patrick Mahomes' ankle injury and the performance of Sammy Watkins who scored three touchdowns in the team's 40-26 victory over the Jaguars Sunday in Jacksonville.

He looked healthy, sure. For a player who has battled injuries throughout his career, that would be the easy explanation.

Too easy, he said.

The biggest difference between Sunday, when Watkins scored three touchdowns, and his 10 games last season, when he totaled just three? Knowledge.

“Last year, I felt like I really didn’t know my role in the whole offense,” he said. “I couldn’t go out there and play fast. This year, (I’m) just trusting it.”

Too much thinking during a game. Watkins pinpointed that problem during the offseason. As a result, he did more prep work, studying plays and gaining a better connection with Mahomes.

That showed up in his final touchdown. The route spanned only three yards, his shortest score of the three. But Ramsey had him covered initially. Mahomes looked specifically for Watkins and was patient enough to allow him to make a move.

Watkins created just enough separation for a bullet pass to the near corner.

“He really understands the offense at a different level than he did last year,” Mahomes said. “So whenever he got his number called, he made plays.”

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat