Chiefs' Mahomes eyes milestone vs. Cardinals
The number Len Dawson wore is retired after he played 14 seasons in Kansas City, led the AFL in passer rating five times and was named MVP of Super Bowl IV after he paced the Chiefs to victory.
Now, with Kansas City off to an 8-1 start, first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes is about to break one of Dawson's most hallowed franchise records. Mahomes needs one more touchdown pass to tie the single-season mark, 30, Dawson set in 1964 as the Chiefs enter a Sunday home game against the Arizona Cardinals (2-6).
More than 50 years later, football is played differently. Mahomes is on the forefront of engineering more of the spread tendencies that first grew popular in the college game.
Yet Mahomes is also aware of Chiefs lore and the esteem for Dawson, a Pro Football Hall of Fame selection as both a player and broadcaster.
"Len had a ton of success in the NFL and was kind of ahead of his time," Mahomes said. "Throwing all those touchdowns, I think the record has stood for a very long time. It would be awesome to pass that, but hopefully we can just keep building and getting more and more wins."
A sweep of NFC West rival San Francisco represents Arizona's only victories.
"You can let (point) spreads and all these things, 'trap game,' all these terms that pop up and things that happen come into it," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "If you can honestly focus on the process and discipline yourself to do that ... you are not going to let distractions get in the way."
Mahomes has been sensational at deflecting attention. He leads NFL passers with 2,901 yards while recording eight consecutive 300-yard games and posting a league-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of plus-22.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are struggling behind their own first-year starter, Josh Rosen.
Not all the blame can be pinned on the rookie quarterback, who fired two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally Arizona past the 49ers on Oct. 28 in the Cardinals' first game after promoting Byron Leftwich to offensive coordinator.
Arizona, returning from an off week, is keeping an eye on a potential milestone. Veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald needs 33 yards to pass Terrell Owens into second place on the all-time list for receiving yardage. Fitzgerald has 15,902 career yards after posting eight catches for 102 yards against the 49ers.
"I've got to just keep giving credit to Byron, just the way he's trying to spread the ball around," Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks said. "He's trying to find creative ways to get all those guys open, but most importantly, trying to target our top guys. Larry had a phenomenal game (against San Francisco), and hopefully he can top it."
Offensive guard Justin Pugh (hand) could return for the Cardinals. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is new to the Chiefs' injury list.
--Field Level Media
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