KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A young, improving team played a mature team here Sunday.
The mature team did what such teams often do in such situations – and the young Jaguars fell behind early against a perennial NFL power and never quite got back in the game.
Patrick Mahomes threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half to give the Kansas City Chiefs a three-touchdown lead – and the Jaguars never fully recovered as the AFC West leaders controlled much of a 27-17 victory at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday afternoon.
"As a team today, it was a game of missed opportunities," Head Coach Doug Pederson said.
The Jaguars won the takeaway statistic 3-0 and recovered a game-opening onside kick, but never led against the six-time defending AFC West champions. The Jaguars scored seven points on five first-half possessions in Kansas City territory.
"Too many missed opportunities too early," said Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who completed 29 of 40 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. "We still had our chances at the end of the game and didn't get back in it."
Mahomes, the Chiefs' four-time Pro Bowl quarterback and the NFL Most Valuable Player following the 2018 season, completed 26 of 35 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
"He's a great player and does a great job outside the pocket and that's where a lot of the big plays come from," Pederson said of Mahomes, with Jaguars safety Andre Cisco adding:
"He's as advertised. He can make all the throws."
The Chiefs, who have played in the last four AFC Championship Games and who entered the game No. 1 in the NFL in points and No. 2 in total yards, had 486 yards offense Sunday – 304 in the first half.
Sunday's game marked the first time in 10 games this season the Jaguars did not lead. It marked their first loss of the season by more than eight points.
"It's another step in our story and what we want to do here and what we're building and what we're trying to do," said Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk, who caught nine passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns – one in the second quarter and another in the fourth.
The Chiefs sacked Lawrence five times and held running back Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. – the NFL's fifth-leading rusher entering the game – to 45 yards on 11 carries.
Etienne had rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games.
The Jaguars cut a 20-0 second-quarter Kansas City lead to 20-10 early in the third quarter, but Mahomes' fourth touchdown pass – a seven-yarder to All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce – gave Kansas City a 27-10 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars forced three takeaways Sunday but turned just one into points – a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Lawrence to wide receiver Christian Kirk after an interception by Andre Cisco. They also recovered an onside kick to start the game but punted to end the drive.
Jaguars kicker Riley Patterson missed two of three field-goal attempts, with the misses from 41 and 51 yards in the second quarter.
"It's hard," Kirk said. "That's a great team, a team that year in and year out comes out of the AFC. If we want to play to a playoff level and be in that position, we can't come in here and play like we have. For us, it's just realizing what we have in the locker room and believing in that.
"We can be a great team. We have to put it together."
Step by step:
- The Chiefs dominated the first quarter statistically, taking a 7-0 lead when Mahomes passed six yards to a wide receiver Kadarius Toney with 3:32 remaining in the quarter; Mahomes set up the touchdown with a 46-yard pass to Kelce for a first down to the Jaguars 21. Jaguars inside linebacker Devin Lloyd also recovered a fumble by Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco at the Jaguars 7 on the Chiefs' opening drive. The Chiefs outgained the Jaguars in the first quarter, 163-41, and led 7-0 entering the second quarter.
- The Chiefs continued to move easily, taking a 14-0 lead when Mahomes passed 17 yards to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling with 9:55 remaining in the second quarter. That came three plays after Patterson's 51-yard miss. The Chiefs pushed the lead to 20-0 with :46 remaining in the half with Mahomes' third touchdown – a 13-yarder to tight end Noah Grey, who was open in the corner of the end zone behind outside linebacker Josh Allen. The Jaguars cut the lead to 20-7 with a quick, impressive drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to Kirk. They missed a chance to cut further into the lead when Patterson missed from 41 yards on the final play of the half after the Jaguars recovered a fumble on the kickoff after Kirk's touchdown.
- The Jaguars cut the lead to 20-10 with a 35-yard field goal by Patterson to cap a 17-play, yard drive to open the third quarter; an apparent four-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to tight end Evan Engram was negated when Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson was called for being illegally down field. Mahomes' touchdown pass to Kelce that pushed the Chiefs' lead to 17 came on the ensuing drive – a 10-play, 75-yarder that ended with Kelce's touchdown with :38 remaining in the third quarter.
- Lawrence passed 19 yards to Kirk with 5:26 remaining to pull the Jaguars to within 10, 27-17.
- Jaguars strong safety Rayshawn Jenkins was active Sunday after spending this past week in the concussion protocol; he was listed as questionable on the team's final injury report of the week Friday.
- The Jaguars' five inactive players Sunday: Wide receiver Kendric Pryor, safety Tyree Gillespie, cornerback Tevaughn Campbell, outside linebacker De'Shaan Dixon and offensive lineman John Miller.