The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-1-1 after two games to start the 2018 regular season, already halfway to their loss total of a year ago when they posted a 13-3 regular season record. And this time, you can’t blame the offense, which put up 35 of the team’s 37 points without turning the ball over.
Instead, this one was all on the defense, which surrendered six touchdown passes to second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. It was just the second time in franchise history that the Steelers allowed a quarterback to complete six touchdowns against them. And it was a quarterback that they scouted heavily a year ago coming in to the draft, bringing him in for a pre-draft visit.
They got a great firsthand look at what the Texas Tech quarterback could do in Heinz Field today Mahomes needed only 28 pass attempts to throw for 326 yards, with six of his 23 completions going for scores.
Leading the way for the offense was tight end Travis Kelce, who was a recipient of seven of the quarterback’s completions. He compiled 109 yards on those throws with two in the end zone, gains of 19 and 25 yards in the first and third quarters, respectively.
Mahomes’ accuracy also proved an asset for Sammy Watkins, who got off to a slow start in his first game with the Kansas City Chiefs but went for 100 yards on six catches today. Tyreek Hill added 90 yards on five catches with a touchdown reception.
The skill of the second-year quarterback was apparent almost throughout the day. The only time in which he appeared to be phased at all was late in the second quarter after the Steelers climbed out of a 21-0 hole to tie the game. Outside of that, he consistently looked poised and showed a great arm.
And he didn’t have to use his legs much, at least on scrambles. He only carried five times for 18 yards, doing a great job of using his mobility to move the pocket instead and continue to look downfield. A few of the biggest plays of the afternoon were attributable to his ability to reset after rolling out to escape pressure.
While Mahomes was undeniably great, a lot of his throws were made possible—or at least easier—thanks to some bad defense. The secondary was rife with miscommunication (especially in the first half) and missed tackles (especially in the second).
Put the two together and you get some history. With his 10 touchdown passes through the first two games, Mahomes set an NFL record for the most to start a season in history. It’s not the most in a two-game span ever—Ben Roethlisberger actually holds that honor with 12—but it’s very impressive nonetheless, considering it’s never been done before.