It's not easy, but it happens.
On paper, the Kansas City Chiefs are one of the rare teams you wouldn't be surprised to see go undefeated. They're calculated, smart, enjoying the support of a raucous fanbase and happen to possess one of the most electrifying quarterbacks of all time.
Patrick Mahomes is just 22 games into his NFL career, but his numbers are already eye-popping. Those games have seen 61 touchdown passes and 7,212 yards. In that latter stat, Mahomes became the fastest thrower in NFL history to reach the 7,000-yard plateau.
Yet, nobody's perfect. The Chiefs have been on the wrong side of five games in the Mahomes era, a 19-13 defeat at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. It was a particularly troubling evening for the Chiefs, who failed to reach 20 points for the first time since Mahomes took over starting duties in 2018.
How does it happen?
The simplest way to truly throw Mahomes off his game is to up the pressure. His patented magic has been on display all over the field. Heck, even in defeat we saw him launch a miracle throw that became Kansas City's lone touchdown of the night. But the numbers are there to back the pressure claims up. In his 17 victories, Mahomes has been sacked just 25 times, or a little over once per game. The average raises to twice per game in the five losses.
Indianapolis knew what to do on Sunday night. They sacked Mahomes four times (second-most in his career) and hit him on eight more occasions. Just became Mahomes has shown he's capable of operating far outside his comfort zone doesn't mean you should just give up. The Colts knew to make him uncomfortable, a lesson any team should keep.
Another common theme of Mahomes defeats? Not only does Kansas City lose on the scoreboard, they lose the time of possession battle as well.
In each of Mahomes' professional losses, the Chiefs have fallen short in that category. The Colts, true to form, played that game masterfully in the final stanzas. They held the ball for all but three of the first 20 minutes of second half game time. Particularly daunting was a 14-play, 45-yard drive that ate 8 minutes and 34 seconds of clock. It only mustered an Adam Vinatieri field goal, but it got Mahomes rusty and out of rhythm. A combination of the pressure and time on the bench forced him into a 22-of-39 accuracy rate...that 56 percent was the second-worst completion tally of his career.