We’re accustomed to Patrick Mahomes completing passes and scoring touchdowns in entirely irregular and, at times, unprecedented ways. But we haven’t seen anything quite like this touchdown from the Kansas City Chiefs’ game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in Week 9.
And it seems credit is due to Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
On a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the second quarter, Mahomes lined up at quarterback before motioning to his right. Then Mahomes motioned back into his original spot by moving to his left. When the ball snapped, he took two more steps to his left, before stopping and spinning the other direction. In the rollout to the right, he found receiver Demarcus Robinson for a touchdown.
Holy cow. *Takes a deep breath.* A lot going on, right? Let’s watch and then we’ll answer your inevitable reaction…
What. Just. Happened?
The play has two levels of misdirection. Ready for some brain boggling?
At first, it seems the Chiefs want the Panthers to think that they’re going to see a direct snap to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Mahomes wandered to his right (in motion) as if he’s making a pre-snap change. So it’s possible the running back could get the snap. This is roughly how the famous “Philly Philly” or “The Philly Special” play starts — with the QB looking hapless in motion. Carolina was probably already on its toes for trickery or a running play.
Then Kansas City layered in more deception.
Mahomes motioned back to the left. And when the ball got snapped — and the snap, in itself, is challenging when executed to a moving player — most of the Chiefs offense started moving to its left, too. Edwards-Helaire headed to the left flat. The offensive line protected left. And receiver Tyreek Hill began dragging across the formation to the left. But then Mahomes set his feet and reversed. You can see tight end Travis Kelce waited in the flat to provide protection on the quarterback’s rollout. Hill suddenly reversed course on his route while Robinson dragged across the back of the end zone on an ever-so-slightly delayed route. That slight delay was enough for Robinson to toast cornerback Rasul Douglas, who got caught looking in the backfield. Mahomes had the requisite protection to find his wide open receiver in the back of the end zone.
It’s an insanely-creative mad-scientist play that only Reid could cook up and few quarterbacks could execute. It seems needlessly extra, convoluted and flamboyant. In a way, it is. But that’s exactly what makes it delightful.