Why the Chiefs Were Upset by the Lions in Week 1

The 21-20 defeat was the first Week 1 loss in the seven-year career of Patrick Mahomes

Brian Branch of the Lions intercepts a pass intended for Kadarius Toney.
Kadarius Toney of the Chiefs had a case of the drops in Week 1.
Jamie Squire/Getty

Of the 57 teams that have won the Super Bowl since the NFL’s biggest game was first played, only 10 have lost their Week 1 game. That’s not a good sign for the Chiefs as their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions began with a 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions in a mistake-laden game for Kansas City that was filled with lowlights including dropped passes and a terrible play call on a crucial 3rd-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

Although second-year receiver Skyy Moore (two), rookie wideout Rashee Rice (one) and veteran running back Jerick McKinnon (one) all dropped passes, former Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney, who was supposed to step in as the No. 1 pass-catcher with sure-handed Travis Kelce out with a knee injury, led the way for the Chiefs with four dropped passes. One of them was particularly devastating as Toney allowed a perfect pass from Patrick Mahomes to bounce off of his hands and into the outstretched arms of rookie safety Brian Branch, who took it to the house for a pick-six. The Week 1 interception was the first of the reigning MVP’s seven-year career.

To put Toney’s four drops into perspective, last year’s league leader Zay Jones only had 13. At this rate, Toney will pass him in Week 4.

The dropped passes were a major reason why Mahomes only went 21-for-39 for 226 yards with two touchdowns and may have played a part in offensive coordinator Matt Nagy making a bizarre call on 3rd-and-1 with the Chiefs trailing by one point in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

Needing a single yard, Nagy didn’t have Mahomes handoff to one of Kansas City’s three running backs or simply have the league’s best player sneak the ball himself, instead calling for tight end Blake Bell to take a direct snap and hand it off to rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice on a jet sweep. Detroit saw the needless trick play coming and it was blown up behind the line of scrimmage by Lions defender Josh Paschal for a loss.

“No excuses at all. We’ve got guys that can play,” said Kansas City coach Andy Reid. “We were right there to take care of business, and you know, they got us on special teams and continued a drive and they got us on the tipped ball. It’s unusual for the guys to drop the ball. That is not what I’ve seen from that. You do that — you take care of business here — you’re all right.”

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The opening night win for the Lions snapped a five-game winless streak in Week 1 for Detroit. The loss was also the first one for Mahomes in six Week 1 games as Kansas City’s starting quarterback.

The Lions will host the Seahawks in Week 2 in their home opener while Kansas City will travel to Jacksonville for a playoff rematch with the Jaguars.

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