NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 Game Recap: Kansas City Chiefs 33, Cleveland Browns 29

Sep 12, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs began their AFC title defense with a 33-29 come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.

Patrick Mahomes threw for 337 yards and three scores while adding one rushing touchdown of his own as the Chiefs outscored the Browns 23-7 in the second half to make up for a 22-10 halftime deficit.

Baker Mayfield just surpassed 300 yards passing and tossed a score as well, but a game-sealing interception on the Browns final drive cemented a tough Cleveland collapse.

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Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes’ 88.4% adjusted completion percentage was as resounding as his zero turnover-worthy plays during his rallying victory effort.  He was able to accomplish this with a 9.4-yard average depth of target.

The Chiefs quarterback was as electric as always throwing the ball down the football field, going 8-of-12 for 210 yards and one touchdown on passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield.

Patrick Mahomes: Passing by depth

Target Depth Completions Attempts Yards Touchdowns
Deep (20+ yards) 3 6 125 1
Intermediate (10-19) 5 6 85 0
Short (0-9) 11 13 91 2
Behind L.O.S. 8 8 36 0
Running Backs

Clyde Edwards-Helaire accumulated 0 explosive plays, recorded 0 rushing first downs and was stuffed at the line on 14.6% of his plays as the team’s feature back. It was tough sledding against a Cleveland Browns run defense that held him to just 43 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Receivers

Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce dominated on the field as Mahomes' safety blankets through the air. Hill came away with four explosive catches of 15-plus yards, capping off another highlight-reel-worthy 100-yard performance.

Kelce caught all six of his catchable passes, forced three missed tackles and came up with two explosive plays of his own in his two-touchdown performance.

Chiefs receivers: Yards per route run (YPRR) in Week 1

Name Snaps Tgts. Rec. Yards YPRR
Tyreek Hill 38 15 11 197 5.18
Travis Kelce 35 7 6 76 2.17
Mecole Hardman 34 3 3 19 0.56
Demarcus Robinson 28 2 1 9 0.32
Blake Bell 9 1 1 3 0.33
Byron Pringle 8 1 1 6 0.75
Offensive line

The Chiefs' new-look offensive line broke into 2021 with a 64.8 pass-blocking grade, pending review. They gave up their fair share of sacks, (3) hits (3) and hurries (9) to make Mahomes feel Cleveland’s pass-rushing presence.

Defensive line

The Chiefs' team pass-rushing grade (54.2) and run-defense grade (56.9) were rather underwhelming, to say the least. The team recorded two tackles for loss and did force a crucial fumble against the run that sparked the rally, but Cleveland didn't have a problem winning the line of scrimmage.

Linebackers

Nick Bolton emerged as a solid run defender for the Chiefs, with two tackles for loss and a 75.5 run-defense grade, according to PFF's first-run analysis. In a game where the team's run defense was very anemic, the rookie was a diamond in the rough.

Secondary

Mike Hughes hauled in the game-sealing interception to finalize an up-and-down 64.7 coverage grade in Week 1. The Chiefs' secondary as a whole clearly missed Tyrann Mathieu, but when it counted, Huges and second-year corner L'Jarius Sneed (56.7 coverage grade) made plays when it mattered.

Cleveland Browns

Quarterback

Baker Mayfield uncorked three big-time throws and threw the ball 10.4 yards downfield on average. But, unlike Mahomes, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick recorded one turnover-worthy play, and it was the game-sealing pick that cemented the Browns' Week 1 fate.

Running back

Nick Chubb churned out 55 yards after contact and forced six missed tackles in another solid showing. He also coughed up the ball in the second half, which helped open the door to a Chiefs comeback that was eventually insurmountable. It was otherwise a solid showing for Chubb, who accumulated two explosive rushes against a 0% stuff rate.

Kareem Hunt scored on one of his six rushing attempts and had an explosive run play of his own. Both Chubb and Hunt helped establish a proactive rushing attack that helped Cleveland dominate the first quarter.

Receivers

Anthony Schwartz broke out in a big way with a 76.4 passing grade. He and Jarvis Landry did a solid job making the Chiefs pass defense pay in the deeper intermediate routes down the field.

Tight end David Njoku was a matchup nightmare, grabbing all three of his contested catches and translating two of them into explosive plays.

Offensive line

Regarded by some as the best offensive line in football, Cleveland paved the way for a solid rushing attack throughout the game. They also kept Mayfield upright for the most part, as he was sacked only twice and hurried three times.

Defensive line

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney both registered a sack this afternoon. Garrett’s 68.0 pass-rushing grade featured three hits and four hurries, but three of those pressures were unblocked. Clowney’s 60.0 pass-rushing grade included four total hurries.

Linebackers

Anthony Walker and Mack Wilson filled the gaps and made sound plays in run defense to neutralize Kansas City’s ground game. However, it was a different story in coverage, as they both struggled to cover Hill and Kelce in the middle of the field.

Secondary

Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome II all had tough days in coverage versus Kansas City. Williams earned a grade of just 31.5 in coverage, while Ward cracked 64.0 and Newsome recorded a 67.3. The latter two players will be expected to be Cleveland's best corners throughout the season. Unfortunately, today just wasn't their best day.

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