Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs hold on to beat Jets 23-20 with Taylor Swift, Aaron Rodgers watching
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs shook off a subpar performance during which they blew a 17-point lead, but held on to defeat the New York Jets 23-20 on Sunday night.
Mahomes was intercepted twice and struggled to get much going after a quick start with pop superstar Taylor Swift watching Travis Kelce and the Chiefs for the second straight game, this time from a suite at MetLife Stadium.
After the Chiefs (3-1) regained the lead on Harrison Butker’s 26-yard field goal with 10:51 remaining in the game, Zach Wilson made his first big mistake when he lost a snap. Tershawn Wharton recovered the loose ball and Mahomes and the Chiefs got it at the Jets 47.
Michael Carter II intercepted Mahomes on third-and-20 from the Jets 40 — but it was negated by a holding call on Sauce Gardner. Replays showed it was a questionable call and an irate Jets coach Robert Saleh stormed down the sideline to shout at an official.
Mahomes, who had a 24-yard run on third-and-22 to extend the drive, ran for 11 yards on another third down to the Jets 2, sealing the victory.
Moments later, a still-angry Saleh was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — and the clock hit zero on a bitter loss for the Jets (1-3).
Mahomes, who became the fastest to 200 NFL touchdown passes, was 18 of 30 for 203 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 51 yards. Isiah Pacheco rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and Kelce had six catches for 60 yards.
Wilson had his best game since taking over for the injured Aaron Rodgers, going 28 of 39 for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
Trailing 20-12, Wilson and the Jets opened the second half with the ball and marched down the field. Wilson found Allen Lazard in the middle of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The quarterback then avoided a tackle attempt, rolled out and zipped forward for a 2-point conversion that tied the game at 20.
Rodgers, who rejoined his teammates Saturday after tearing his left Achilles tendon in his debut on Sept. 11, was shown on the stadium video screens clapping and cheering after the score, sitting in a suite with Jets owner Woody Johnson — and that got the New York fans even more fired up.
It appeared it would be a blowout early when Pacheco slipped a tackle attempt by Micheal Clemons in the backfield on third-and-1, made a move downfield and then zipped into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown that made it 10-0.
Mahomes threw the 200th touchdown pass of his career, reaching the milestone in his 84th game to break Dan Marino’s NFL record when he connected with Noah Gray on a 34-yard score with 3:24 left in the first quarter. Marino threw his 200th TD pass in his 89th NFL game with Miami in 1989.
The Jets got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor was called for a facemask penalty on Bryce Huff in the end zone, resulting in a safety.
The play seemed to breathe some life into New York’s struggling offense as Wilson marched the Jets down the field, helped by a 39-yard toss to Allen Lazard. The drive stalled, though, when Tyler Conklin couldn’t scoop a low throw in the end zone and the Jets settled for a 31-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein that made it 17-5.
Ashtyn Davis intercepted Mahomes’ throw to Gray to open the Chiefs’ next possession, giving the Jets the ball back at Kansas City’s 41. And New York took advantage.
After Randall Cobb extended the drive by reaching out for a first down on third-and-5 to the 19, wide receiver Xavier Gipson gained 14 yards on an end-around to put the ball at the 5. Two plays later, Wilson found C.J. Uzomah in the top right corner of the end zone for a 1-yard TD to cut the Jets’ deficit to 17-12 with 6:26 left in the half.
Butker’s 37-yarder made it 20-12 with 2:15 remaining in the second quarter.
The Jets chose to try a field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Chiefs 34 in the waning seconds of the first half, but Zuerlein hit the right upright from 52 yards.
Former Jets star defensive lineman Joe Klecko received his Pro Football Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence during a halftime ceremony.
Klecko, who also served as the Jets’ honorary captain for the pregame coin toss, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in August. He played for the Jets from 1977-87 and was the heart of the team’s “New York Sack Exchange.”
Chiefs: LB Cole Christiansen left in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and didn’t return.
Jets: CB Brandin Echols injured a hamstring in the second quarter and was ruled out.
Chiefs: At Minnesota next Sunday.
Jets: At Denver next Sunday.
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