EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs appeared on their way to a blowout against the struggling New York Jets.
A few mistakes by the star quarterback made it uncomfortably close, but he and the Chiefs shook off a subpar performance during which they blew a 17-point lead and then held on for a 23-20 victory Sunday night.
“I knew I put us in two bad positions,” said Mahomes, who was intercepted twice. “No one points fingers in that locker room. We all play together. Not everything is going to be pretty, but the guys responded and we found a way to win.”
With pop superstar Taylor Swift watching Travis Kelce and the Chiefs for the second straight game, this time from a suite at MetLife Stadium, Kansas City was able to bounce back.
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After the Chiefs (3-1) regained the lead on Harrison Butker’s 26-yard field goal with 10:51 remaining, Zach Wilson made his first big mistake for the Jets when he lost a snap. Tershawn Wharton recovered and Mahomes and the Chiefs got the ball 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.
“Fourth quarter, crunch time,” Gardner said. “I don’t even know what to say.”
Mahomes, who had a 25-yard run on third-and-23 to extend the drive, ran for 9 yards on another third down to the Jets 2, sealing the victory.
“Listen, I thought it was a hold,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I’ve got to go back and look at the tape on it. He was on the other side of the field. They’re aggressive, so they’re going to get a couple of those during the game. Sauce is as good as there is in the league, but he might have had a little bit of fabric there.”
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).
“Just that whole drive after the fumble was unfortunate,” Saleh said. “That’s extremely unfortunate, especially for a prime-time football game.”
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 to set the franchise’s career rushing mark for a quarterback. Isiah Pacheco rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and Kelce had six catches for 60 yards.
“It was a lot of hard grinding tonight,” Pacheco said.
Wilson had his best game since taking over for the injured Aaron Rodgers, going 28 of 39 for 245 yards and two touchdowns. But he blamed himself for the loss because of the lost fumble.
“To be driving right there, to drop a snap, I can not do that,” Wilson said.
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 offense and Greg Zuerlein’s 31-yard field goal made it 17-5.
Ashtyn Davis intercepted Mahomes’ throw to Gray to open the Chiefs’ next possession, 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 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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