Patrick Mahomes rallied Kansas City with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Chiefs launched their season with a thrilling 33-29 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
The Chiefs, who are trying to get to a third straight Super Bowl after winning it all in 2020 and falling to Tampa Bay last season, trailed all day in front of home fans at Arrowhead Stadium, where quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Browns took a 29-20 lead in the final period before Mahomes unleashed his magic.
With 10:10 left to play, Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to two points.
Barely more than three minutes later, Mahomes fired an eight-yard TD pass to Travis Kelce to put the Chiefs up for the first time at 33-29.
“You love his attitude because he always feels like we’re in it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Mahomes. “He does such a great job with the guys around him.
“He’s a great communicator during tough times on the sideline.”
While their two-point conversion attempt failed, the Chiefs were still able to hold on for the win.
The Chiefs outscored the Browns 23-7 in the second half. Mahomes finished with 337 yards on 27 of 36 passing with three TDs.
Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers’ season, meanwhile, got off to a rocky start.
The veteran Green Bay quarterback, who mulled retirement in the offseason before opting to return to the Packers despite a rift with the team, endured the worst margin of defeat in his NFL career in a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Rodgers threw for only 133 yards and two interceptions before Jordan Love, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2020, took over in the fourth quarter of the blowout loss.
“We played bad. I played bad,” Rodgers said, but added: “One game. We’ve got 16 to go.”
The Saints didn’t miss a beat as they played their first game since quarterback Drew Brees retired. They were also playing their would-be home opener in Jacksonville, Florida, because of damage from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana.
Saints quarterback Jameis Winston threw five touchdown passes and said the win was for fans back in New Orleans still struggling in the aftermath of Ida.
“That was for the city,” Winston said. “We did that for them. We knew how much it would mean to get a great victory for that region.”
Elsewhere, Trevor Lawrence’s NFL career got off to a losing start as the Jacksonville Jaguars suffered a season-opening 37-21 mauling by the Houston Texans.
Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the most recent draft and one of the most highly rated college quarterbacks in years, was intercepted three times as the Jaguars were outplayed by a Texans lineup missing DeShaun Watson, who is battling sexual assault allegations.
With Watson sidelined, it was left to Texans backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor to lead the AFC South side to a comfortable win.
Taylor threw for 291 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Lawrence, meanwhile, finished with three touchdown passes and 332 yards.
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