Chiefs' Mahomes-to-Hill connection setting NFL ablaze
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill have already developed such a strong rapport six games into their partnership that the Chiefs' quarterback has delivered passes to him just about every way possible.
Right-handed. Left-handed. When Mahomes wasn't even trying.
The right-handed touchdown tosses have earned plenty of attention, mostly because they tend to go for 50 or 60 yards. The left-handed completion, an improvisation under duress, was perhaps the biggest highlight to come from the Chiefs' come-from-behind win at Denver a few weeks ago.
Then there was last Sunday night in New England, when Mahomes rolled to his left and appeared to be trying to find Kareem Hunt, only for Hill to swoop in and snare another touchdown reception.
That one? Well, Mahomes wasn't going to admit who his target actually was.
"A magician never reveals his tricks," he said, "so I'll just leave it at that."
There's been plenty of magic between Mahomes and Hill, though. Their rare skillsets have made them one of the most potent pass-catch combos in the NFL — Mahomes with the arm strength to send passes into the tightest of windows or heave them deep, and Hill with the hands to catch them and the world-class speed to beat just about any cornerback down the seam.
Just ask Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore for his assessment of them.
"He's a great quarterback. He made some big throws," he said after the Patriots rallied for a 43-40 victory. "He got it to everybody on the field and he's a great quarterback."
As for Hill, Gilmore said, "I've never seen anyone that fast. Fastest guy I've ever covered."
Fellow defensive back Duron Harmon saw that elite speed when Hill caught a pass over the middle, angled toward the sideline and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. The scoring strike came with 3:03 left to play and pulled Kansas City into a 40-all tie with New England.
"He's by far the fastest person I've ever come in contact with," Harmon said. "If he gets anybody in that position, more than likely he's going to be gone. I still have to find a way to do something, to try to get him down, force him to the sideline. I've got to dive my defense a chance."
Good luck with that.
Hill leads the NFL with nine receptions of at least 25 yards this season, and when you combine his dangerous return talents, he has 16 plays of at least 50 yards since joining the league in 2016.
Those numbers are a big reason why Mahomes is averaging 8.8 yards per attempt, third-best behind the rollercoaster Ryan Fitzpatrick of Tampa Bay and Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Mahomes also has an NFL-leading 23 completions of at least 25 yards and the top touchdown percentage in the league.
"He's definitely to me the most explosive person in the league," Mahomes said, "and the way he's developed as a receiver the last few years, he's going for that top spot. I know there's a lot of great receivers in the league but I'm glad I have Tyreek."
Hill is equally glad to have Mahomes under center, claiming he's the first quarterback to have the arm strength to overthrow him downfield. And while that's happened a couple of times this season, they nevertheless have connected for at least 50 yards receiving in every game.
That includes a seven-catch, 169-yard performance in a season-opening win over the Chargers, and a seven-catch, 142-yard performance with three TDs in last week's loss to the Patriots.
"I don't even know what to say about him. Pat just does a great job looking down the field and trusting us," Hill said. "Pat's trust lets me go out there and make a play."
The banged-up Bengals get the next chance to slow down Mahomes and Hill when they visit Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night. And considering Cincinnati is allowing nearly 300 yards passing per game, and has the fourth-worst defense overall, they could be due for another big day.
"They do a great job of making you defend the field, and you get misdirection, motion, shifts, all the things they do make you responsible, and they do them with great athleticism and speed," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. "We have a big challenge ahead of us."
Notes: Safety Eric Berry (heel) and C Mitch Morse (concussion) were sidelined in practice Wednesday. ... Reid said new OL Jeff Allen will start off in a backup role. He started for most of four seasons in Kansas City before joining the Texans, who cut him last summer. Allen returned this week as the Chiefs tried to add some depth up front. ... FS Daniel Sorensen (broken leg) is eligible to come off injured reserve soon, though Reid said there is no timetable yet. "He's making great progress," Reid said. "He's close. We'll just see how he does here the next week."
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