Chiefs

The Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes bond continues to grow, and the Chiefs are rolling

The highlights will zoom in on Patrick Mahomes’ gaudy 83-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson’s majestic 18-yard TD catch an instant after he swiveled his head.

The storylines will be about the Ravens deciding most of the field had to be four-down territory, Lamar Jackson’s two Hail Marys that kept the game alive and Frank Clark’s sack.

Less sensationally but equally a signature of the game Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium was the play that ultimately enabled the Chiefs to fend off Baltimore 33-28 — a play that underscored the beautiful mind-meld between Mahomes and coach Andy Reid, a relationship that’s at the core of why the Chiefs are on trajectory to win a Super Bowl.

Facing third-and-9 with 1 minute, 51 seconds left from the Chiefs’ 37, running the ball and likely punting to a team with no timeouts left was the conventionally conservative way to play it.

Instead, they went with the sort of gutsy call you only make with unflinching belief in each other from these semi-soulmates who bring out the best and most real versions of each other.

Instead, based on the pre-game meeting Reid, Mahomes, other offensive coaches and quarterbacks have the night before every game, they went through their catalog of final four-minute scenarios and options and went with a pump-fake left, screen-pass right to Darrel Williams for a 16-yard first down.

“That was his play for that situation,” Reid said.

And Reid’s call to make it that way.

Ballgame, leaving the Chiefs 3-0 after beating a team considered a prime contender in the AFC … despite playing without injured key starters Tyreek Hill, Eric Fisher and Damien Williams.

“It just shows that every little detail matters,” said Mahomes, who joked that after preparing this way every week the late-game situation finally arose for it, and noted that the Chiefs had shown a variation of the play last week that baited Baltimore a bit.

So this was about Reid’s penchant for detail. But it also was about the Chiefs’ braintrust, by which we mean the considerable brains and trust between Reid and Mahomes, multiplied by their fusion.

Others are involved in the process, of course, but the uncanny connection between them that began with the first meeting of the offensive mastermind of a coach and prodigy of a prospect continues to burgeon in Mahomes’ second full season as a starter.

To the point where in some ways it’s hard to identify where one begins and the other ends as it pertains to the canvas they work on.

When Hardman was asked about Mahomes after the game, he called him “the brains of the offense.”

Which he is in his own right but also as an extension of Reid, who long has sought input from Mahomes — who in turn craves criticism.

They provided a fine visual reminder of that yet again on Sunday, when Reid plopped down on the bench with Mahomes after the first series of the game included a penalty for intentional grounding and a sack of Mahomes and ended in a punt.

Whatever adjustments, if any, were made in the moment, Mahomes flourished the rest of the game, finishing 37 of 47 for 374 yards and three touchdowns.

Just don’t call it synergy between them.

“If I knew what synergy was,” Reid said, smiling, “I’d be good with it.”

While Reid doubtless was joking, for the record Merriam-Webster.com defines it as “a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct … elements (such as resources or efforts).”

Sounds about right.

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The coach has his guy. Andy Reid, right, believes he has the kind of quarterback the Chiefs need to go deep into the postseason in young Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City Star File photo

In the particular case of the final pivotal play of the game, which was already in the game plan for Mahomes’ consideration, the compatibility went thusly:

“I keep it open with those guys, so if they’ve got an idea that they’re feeling, let’s put it on the table,” Reid said. “So we give them the game plan … But if there’s something that he’s feeling, absolutely you listen to him. So that’s all part of this. We don’t close our ears on anything. You check your egos on that kind of stuff.”

Speaking of checking egos, the victory on Sunday was the 210th of Reid’s career, surpassing Chuck Noll and leaving Reid alone in sixth place on the NFL career victories list (including playoff games).

Reid’s reaction?

“Yeah, well, it includes a lot of people. So that ends up being a one-man (honor), but it took an army to get to (this) point,” said Reid, pointing to players, coaches and ownership as the keys.

Even if that were entirely the case, engendering that kind of support isn’t just happenstance. Reid, a player’s coach if ever there were one, brings out that devotion.

“Obviously, the way he’s able to relate to people, the way he’s able to get the best out of every single player that he coaches, it’s something that is truly special about him,” said Mahomes, adding that Reid also distinguishes himself by understanding “that line of being aggressive but at the same time being smart …”

The line he found the sweet spot for late Sunday.

And part of a unique coalescence with Mahomes that tells you, revamped defense willing, Reid won’t go much longer as the winningest coach never to claim an NFL championship.

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Vahe Gregorian has been a sports columnist for The Kansas City Star since 2013 after 25 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has covered a wide spectrum of sports, including 10 Olympics. Vahe was an English major at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his master’s degree at Mizzou.
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