Mahomes: Chiefs must protect the ball to win in Detroit

Patrick Mahomes is impressed with what he's seen of the 2-0-1 Lions.
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DETROIT — Patrick Mahomes has led the Kansas City Chiefs to another strong start, winning all three games and setting records along the way.

The reigning NFL MVP is the first player in league history to have at least 350 yards passing and three touchdown passes without an interception in three straight games. In his first 20 starts, he has another league record with 13 300-yard passing games.

And if the 24-year-old superstar quarterback throws at least two TD passes for a 15th straight game against Detroit (2-0-1), he will match one of Peyton Manning’s league records set during the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Denver Broncos.

“The way Pat’s going, he’s going to break every record in NFL history if he keeps this up,” Lions safety Quandre Diggs said.

Mahomes, though, is not coming to the Motor City cocky about his chances to match the mark after watching Detroit’s defense force three fumbles, recovering two, and allowing Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz to complete barely half his passes in a 27-24 win over the Eagles in Week 3.

“They played physical football,” Mahomes said. “They played a lot of man coverage. They really get up in everyone’s face and they stopped the run. I think with the Eagles, they really capitalized on turnovers. That’s the big thing they focus on. We’re going to try to protect the ball.”

MAKING A MARK

Detroit is the first NFL team with four players to have 100 yards receiving and a TD in a game through Week 3. Receiver Danny Amendola and rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson did it in a season-opening tie at Arizona. Receiver Kenny Golladay followed suit in a Week 2 win over the Chargers. In last week’s victory at Philadelphia, Marvin Jones became the fourth player on the team with 100 yards receiving and a score.

“Anytime we can spread the ball around and give the defense a lot to think about, I think it’s a positive for us,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “It’s a credit to those guys going out there and making plays. I’m happy for all of those guys that have done it, and hopefully we’ll get more of it.”

SPREADING THE LOVE

Mahomes has also found a different receiver to target each week.

Sammy Watkins had 198 yards receiving and three TDs in a season-opening, 40-26 victory at Jacksonville. Demarcus Robinson had 174 yards and two scores in Week 2, a 28-10 win at Oakland. Mecole Hardman had an 83-yard TD reception in a 33-28 win over Baltimore last Sunday.

“That’s what it’s all about when you have a team of this stature and players on this team,” Watkins said. “It’s about spreading the ball around.”

MEASURING UP

The Lions are unbeaten through Week 3 for the first time since 2011. Of course, few outside the Detroit locker room expect them to upset Kansas City to extend the solid start.

“It’ll be a good test for us,” Stafford said.

GROWING PAINS

The Chiefs’ new defense under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has gone through some growing pains, getting beaten through the air by Jacksonville in Week 1 and dominated on the ground by everyone else. Kansas City is giving up a league-high 6.2 yards per carry and allowing nearly 140 yards rushing per game.

“We play well in stretches,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “The first drive of every game hasn’t been a great drive for us defensively. I think we’ve given up a touchdown every time. Then, in the fourth quarter we get lax as well. End of the day, that falls on me.”

STAFFORD’S SACKS

The previous five seasons, Detroit allowed Stafford to get sacked nearly three times a game on average. After seeing Stafford get sacked three times in Week 1, the Lions have not surrendered another.