Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes, including one to returning star Travis Kelce, and the Kansas City Chiefs overcame three early turnovers to beat Jacksonville 17-9 on Sunday for their third victory against the Jaguars in 10 months.
The Chiefs (1-1) won their eighth straight in the series and avoided becoming the first Super Bowl champions to start 0-2 since Denver in 1999.
The Jaguars (1-1), who insisted all week they owed the Chiefs because of a loss in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs in January, pretty much no-showed in their home opener.
Coach Doug Pederson’s team had another slow start, failed to capitalize on two of three turnovers and struggled to protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence threw incomplete on a fourth-and-12 play with 4:16 remaining in an eight-point game, and Kansas City didn’t let the Jaguars get the ball back.
Chiefs All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, making his season debut after ending his holdout and signing a one-year contract, dominated his one-on-one matchups. Jones manhandled rookie right tackle Anton Harrison and was equally effective against the rest of Jacksonville’s line. He finished with two sacks on five QB pressures.
With extra time to prepare following a loss to Detroit 10 days earlier in the NFL opener, the Chiefs had hoped to look a lot more like their normally dynamic selves on offense. But Richie James muffed a punt, Justin Watson fumbled and Mahomes threw an interception. Kadarius Toney, who dropped three passes in the opener, fumbled late in the third but was able to scoop up the loose ball and avoid another turnover.
Mahomes completed 29 of 41 passes for 305 yards. He found Kelce all alone in the end zone to extend KC’s lead to 14-6. CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle slipped in a song reference to reports linking Kelce to pop superstar Taylor Swift by saying “Kelce finds a blank space for the score.” One of Swift’s many hits is “Blank Space.”
Kelce, who missed the opener because of a hyperextended knee, punted the ball into the end zone to celebrate. He finished with four catches on nine targets for 26 yards.
The Chiefs converted twice on fourth down and outgained Jacksonville 399 to 271 in total yards. The Jaguars had several chances but settled for field goals in two trips into the red zone, and they averaged a measly 4.2 yards per play.
Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who spent the first four years of his NFL career with Jacksonville, had a rough homecoming. Taylor was penalized five times and ultimately benched for a series. He was flagged twice for false starts, once for an illegal formation and twice for holding.
MENTOR VS MENTEE
Pederson fell to 0-4 against his close friend and mentor, Chiefs coach Andy Reid. This was Pederson’s first loss at home; the previous three were played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
The Chiefs beat Pederson and Philadelphia 27-20 in Week 2 of the 2017 season; the Eagles rebounded and ultimately won the Super Bowl. The Chiefs swept the Jaguars last season, winning 27-17 in Week 10 and 27-20 in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
Chiefs: LBs Nick Bolton and Willie Gay were attended to on the field, but both were able to return to the game.
Jaguars: LB Josh Allen left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. WR Zay Jones (knee) returned after spending time in the locker room. WR Calvin Ridley ran into the padding surrounding the goal post and was shaken up. RB Travis Etienne dealt with cramping issues late.
Chiefs: Host Chicago next Sunday.
Jaguars: Host Houston next Sunday.