With the release of Kareem Hunt, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the leading rusher on the team’s active roster. Mahomes’ ability to make plays with his legs, in both the running and passing game, was crucial to in the win over the Raiders on Sunday.
While Chiefs coach Andy Reid seemed glad that his team pieced together enough of a rushing attack to escape the West Coast with a 40-33 victory in Oakland, Reid portrayed Mahomes’ volume of runs as reaction to the defense as opposed to a reaction to the loss of Hunt.
Spencer Ware, who stepped back into the starting running back spot for the first time in more than a season, led the team with 14 carries (he also had one reception). Damien Williams lugged the ball just five times (38 yards) and wide receiver Tyreek Hill rushed twice (37 yards).
However, Mahomes rushed for team-high 52 yards on nine carries on Sunday. He’s now carried 51 times for 238 yards this season (Ware has 171 yards).
“Our runners, we did it a little bit by committee — quarterback included — were still able to sprout a little bit over 100 yards running the ball,” Reid said during his Monday conference call, reiterating what he said after Sunday’s game. “So that was good. We were able to get Spence going and Damien too.”
If that distribution of carries — 9 of 30 rushed by the quarterback — turns into a trend down the stretch in the regular season, it’s reasonable to wonder if Mahomes will be at greater risk of injury. Mahomes had not rushed more than six times in any game this season prior to Sunday.
Many of Mahomes’ yards came on scrambles when he escaped the rush and got out of the pocket on called pass plays.
But there were also designed runs where Mahomes had the option to handoff to a running back or carry the ball. The way the defense played, according to Reid, caused Mahomes to keep the ball.
“Some of those were off the (run-pass option) stuff and the reads,” Reid said. “Then he had a couple just by the way they were playing. They were pushing towards the RPO stuff and they created seams there, so we were able to attack those when we had a true pass on.”
Reid downplayed the risk factor of Mahomes being so active in the running game, chalking it up to taking advantage of the holes in the defense.
“They were good adjustments, and he’s not taking big hits on those,” Reid said. “He’s getting down, and we’re getting out of bounds — which is important. I’m not too worried about that. There are going to be games when you’ve got to do that. That’s what’s available, and you’ve got to take advantage of that. I’ve got confidence in the other guys, the other two running backs, that they can play. I don’t have a problem there.”