The Chiefs didn’t miss Chris Jones as much as Travis Kelce.
Without their star tight end, the defending Super Bowl champions gave Patrick Mahomes no reliable receiver. It allowed the upstart Lions to escape with a monstrous 21-20 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Lions started 1-6 last year before turning it around. They are now moving in the right direction and showing that they intend to live up to the off-season expectations.
But for all that Detroit did right on Thursday night, the Chiefs did just as much wrong.
Mahomes still looked like Mahomes, the best quarterback in the world, but he got no help with four failed passes and one deflected pass. Kadarius Toney had a terrible, terrible, no good, very bad day, dropping passes all night, including one that bounced into the hands of Lions rookie Brian Branch, who returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
On the Chiefs’ last chance, Toney dropped a pass; Jawaan Taylor got off to a false start; and Donovan Smith was called for arrest. The Chiefs chose to go for it on the fourth and 25th of their own 30 with 2:09 left, and Mahomes’ prayer went unanswered.
David Montgomery ran 10 yards three times on the ensuing possession, allowing Jared Goff to finish in victory formation without Mahomes seeing the ball again.
Mahomes went 21 of 39 for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 45 yards with six carries.
He completed passes for 11 different receivers.
Goff was 22 of 35 for 253 yards and a touchdown, while Montgomery rushed for 74 yards on 21 carries and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs had nine touches for 60 yards.
The Lions defeated the Chiefs 368 to 316.
The Chiefs settled for 35- and 39-yard field goals from Harrison Butker on 73- and 47-yard drives in the second half to lead them to 0-1 for the first time since 2014.