Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was no longer a secret by the time the Kansas City Chiefs got to Denver for a Monday Night Football game against the Broncos in Week 4 in 2018. He had thrown for 896 yards and 13 touchdowns in the first three games of his first full season as a starter.
But it turns out he hadn’t yet put his full set of skills on display. Mahomes got around to that against the Broncos with some unconventional throws, none more unorthodox than a left-handed pass to Tyreek Hill that gave the Chiefs a first down and allowed them to continue what would be a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Mahomes led two touchdown drives in the fourth to help the Chiefs overcome a 10-point deficit and beat the Broncos 27-23. It was the second time Mahomes had led a fourth-quarter, game-winning scoring drive, the first coming in Mahomes’ rookie season in 2017, also against the Broncos and in Denver.
The 2018 game will be shown as a part of the ongoing series of Monday Night Football classics. It kicks off at 8 p.m. ET Monday on ESPN.
“They never encourage that,” Mahomes said, referring the coaches’ opinions of his off-schedule throws. “But at the same time, as long as you complete it and you get the first down, they’re fine with that.
“It’s all situational. There are times you can extend the play and give your receivers the chance to make plays, and there are times you need to stay within the pocket and just take what’s there.”
The Chiefs, who entered the game 3-0, wouldn’t have prevailed without some Mahomes magic. He had a big fourth quarter — he was 13-of-16 for 151 yards and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce.
Mahomes also completed a 29-yard pass to Kelce in the middle of the field while moving to his left. He had to make that throw across his body.
The lefty throw to Hill had even more “wow” factor. Mahomes, on a third-and-5 on the winning touchdown drive, was flushed from the pocket to his left, with Denver linebacker Von Miller closing in. Mahomes couldn’t have made the throw to Hill right-handed, so he improvised, and the 6-yard gain gave the Chiefs a first down.
“I didn’t think [about] it at all,” Mahomes said. “I was kind of just scrambling left. I felt Von on my back, and knew I couldn’t throw it with my right hand. I knew we needed the first down, so I kind of shot-putted it to Tyreek. He got the first down and made a great play. You just have to get the ball in their hands somehow.”
The Monday Night Football announcing crew of Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten marveled at the throw.
“How did he pull that off?” Tessitore shouted.
Even Hill wondered at the pass.
“I’ve never seen a quarterback who is right-handed throw the ball left-handed,” Hill said. “Pat actually throws [left-handed] better than me, and I’m left-handed.”
Because Mahomes was making such throws work, the Chiefs were comfortable letting him work outside the normal rules for a quarterback.
“Most guys are told not to do that,” fullback Anthony Sherman said. “Then he goes out there and executes it and it’s, ‘OK, I guess you can do that.’
“We should just trust him and know that he won’t put us in a bad situation. He’ll just find a way to get the ball to an open receiver.”