KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The worst nightmare for the Kansas City Chiefs developed in the early minutes of Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers. They fell behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter and didn’t have the injured Patrick Mahomes to help bail them out.
What happened next was enough to give the Chiefs hope for as long as they’ll have to play without Mahomes. They rallied behind veteran backup Matt Moore.
They rallied twice, in fact, but still lost 31-24. But the Chiefs have reason to believe they can score enough points to win next week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings if Moore is again their starting quarterback.
Moore completed 24 of 36 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns and his teammates didn’t help at times. LeSean McCoy lost a fumble that led to a Green Bay touchdown. Sammy Watkins dropped a pass that could have been a big play. Travis Kelce dropped a pass in the end zone.
“It’s not just on Matt,” Watkins said. “His job is to control the game and help us win the game. … We’ve all got to make plays. We can’t just single [him] out and say, ‘Matt, Matt, Matt,’ and make it about Matt.
“Of course we’re more comfortable with Pat out there but we had a whole week of practice with [Moore] and I honestly feel like he played well.”
Moore was mostly an unknown to the Chiefs even though he played the majority of last week’s game against the Denver Broncos after Mahomes dislocated his right kneecap. Moore joined the Chiefs in late August, after they had finished training camp and as they were winding up their preseason. He received no practice time with the starters during the regular season.
Even in Denver, the Chiefs asked little of Moore. He entered the game with the Chiefs holding a lead they quickly expanded, mostly due to a defensive touchdown. So the Chiefs didn’t need Moore to be productive against the Broncos.
They needed everything he could deliver against the Packers, and Moore gave them more than could reasonably be expected from a quarterback who two months ago was helping coach his former high school team in California. He threw touchdown passes of 29 yards to Kelce and 30 yards to Mecole Hardman as part of a 17-point second quarter to give the Chiefs a lead at halftime.
On both plays, Moore used the abilities of his teammates. On the Kelce touchdown, Moore had to get rid of the ball because of pressure before he was set. But Kelce was uncovered, so he arched the ball into the air at his last available moment, which allowed Kelce time to run underneath it and make the catch.
Hardman, one of the fastest Chiefs, scored on a jet sweep.
“Those were nice,” Moore said. “It’s just letting guys do their thing.”
Moore helped rally the Chiefs a second time in the fourth quarter, after the Chiefs had fallen behind 24-17. He threw what would have been a third scoring pass had Kelce not dropped a throw in the end zone, but the Chiefs scored on the drive anyway on a Damien Williams run.
Moore and the Chiefs finally ran out of gas, after the Packers scored again to take a 31-24 lead.
“There’s always going to be something,” Moore said when asked what he reasonably could have done better. “In every game, it’s never as good as you think and it’s never as bad as you think. That’s true for everybody.”