Mahomes passed for six touchdowns and almost 500 yards during that Nov. 19 contest, but he also committed five turnovers, and those turned out to be critical in a three-point loss. So it was predictable where he focused most of his attention last week.
“You have to eliminate the turnovers, first off,” Mahomes said Wednesday as the Chiefs practiced for the first time since the Rams game. “Some of those turnovers came at crucial moments. … I think the biggest one for me was the one where we were almost in field goal range, just knowing when to and when not to take a chance. Every experience, bad or good, you have to learn from. You take the positives.
“We had a lot of successful plays and successful things that happened in that game, but you have to find ways to win them in the end.”
Going into the Rams game, Mahomes hadn’t lost a fumble. He had thrown seven interceptions, but that wasn’t an alarming rate. Just 2 percent of his passes wound up as interceptions, which was 16th best in the league.
He lost two fumbles against the Rams when he was hit by defensive lineman Aaron Donald. One was returned for a touchdown. Mahomes threw three interceptions, and one of those was a pick-six.
“You don’t hide it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “You go back and evaluate it: How did those things happen and then how do you fix them so they don’t happen again?
“So we’ve done that. One thing about Pat is that he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. That’s not been his M.O. here. I’m not worried about that. I want him to keep firing. Learn from your mistakes, but keep firing.”
The miscues came at a cost, but Mahomes learned some valuable lessons. One is that great pass-rushers like Donald, the NFL leader in sacks, aren’t content with just a sack. They also want the ball.
Mahomes said after the game he felt Donald’s presence each time but was surprised the pass-rusher went for the ball as well as the quarterback.
“The guy made great plays,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “He swatted directly on the ball both times. I feel like in the pocket I usually keep two hands on it. He got me at the perfect time where I was kind of trying to escape. … I haven’t been strip sacked a lot, but at the same time, I’m going to try to improve on just keeping two hands on the ball even when I do try to break the pocket.”
As Mahomes indicated he would, he has to get better at picking his spots when it comes to going after big plays. With the Chiefs down by three points late in the Rams game but nearing field goal range, he tried to get the ball down the field to Chris Conley despite the strong pass rush of linebacker Samson Ebukam.
Mahomes was hit by Ebukam as he threw, and the fluttering pass was intercepted.
Earlier in that tilt, Mahomes threw a pick-six when he was choosing between two receivers, Tyreek Hill and Demetrius Harris. He made a flat-footed throw for Harris that Ebukam intercepted and ran back for a touchdown.
“You just have to be decisive,” Mahomes said. “I was indecisive with the throw.”