With Travis Kelce watching injured on the sidelines, and Chris Jones watching from a suite above in Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs entered the 2023 NFL opener down two of their best players.
And in the end, Patrick Mahomes was unable to mount another rally, as a receiving corps that struggled throughout the night couldn’t rise to the occasion for the reigning NFL MVP. And the underdog Detroit Lions, with their most anticipated season in decades, fought tooth-and-nail till the very end and emerged victorious over the defending Super Bowl Champs 21-20 on Thursday Night.
For a lot of the game, the Chiefs of old looked completely different. Without Kelce, they seemed out of sync. And with so many dropped passes – that means you, Kadarius Toney – there just wasn’t enough to overcome the ultimate embarrassment on national TV. Mahomes threw a pick-six in the third quarter that was returned 50 yards for a touchdown by Brian Branch.
Also of note: the reality is that the pick-six belonged to Toney, who muffed on the pass. It was a bad night all around for Chiefs’ wide receivers. Skyy Moore had zero catches on three targets, including a few balls that went off his hands in the final minutes, Toney had one catch for 1 yard on five targets, looking progressively more spooked with each mistake he made.
The Chiefs raised a championship banner on Thursday, but it was Dan Campbell who raised his arms in jubilation at the end of the night. Detroit generated consistent pressure against the Chiefs’ talented offensive line — which may have gotten away with some false starts — and made life difficult for Mahomes, who was held to 226 passing yards.
Kelce hopefully will be good to go for Week 2 against Jacksonville, but in the AFC, there’s little room for errors like tonight.