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Patrick Mahomes' to Kadarius Toney following loss to Bills: One mistake 'not going to define you'

It's been a rough year for Kadarius Toney.

Dropped passes have been the most prevalent issue with his performance in 2023, but on Sunday, he caught a pass thrown to him, a backwards pass from tight end Travis Kelce, leading to what most everyone believed was a go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes of a close game against the Bills. The magical play was negated, though, by another Toney error: He'd lined up offside.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was incensed by the call, letting the side judge hear it after the Chiefs failed to convert and went on to lose to Buffalo, 20-17. He's since walked back his rage, admitting officials made the correct call, which has once again unintentionally shifted the spotlight back on Toney.

Mahomes said Wednesday he's not interested in pinning blame on his teammate. Instead, he's focused on uplifting Toney.

"Just be you," Mahomes said of his message to Toney, via ESPN. "That's all you can do in life or in this league. You're going to make mistakes. Stuff's going to happen in your life. How do you accept that adversity and get past it and do it the right way?

"You make one mistake, that's not going to define you. It's going to be how you respond to that mistake."

Toney's career in Kansas City, while only spanning roughly one year since he was acquired during the 2022 season via trade, has seen the full range of outcomes. He played a pivotal role in the Chiefs' comeback win over the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown to give the Chiefs a one-point lead before returning a punt to set up a key TD score on Kansas City's next possession.

He's also been at the center of a handful of major disappointments in 2023, dropping a pass during Kansas City's failed comeback attempt in Week 1 and making a number of other mistakes throughout a regular season that has become increasingly frustrating for all involved.

Toney isn't the only receiver who has disappointed, but he is the most notable. Still, Mahomes knows his best chance of success will depend on the performance of his teammates.

"All the receivers know I believe in them," he said. "That's just kind of how I roll. If you're in this locker room and I see how hard you work, I'm going to trust in you in big moments and I'm going to give you chances to go out there and make plays and for everything I know their mindset seems like it's in a good spot and they just want to go out there and continue to get better and better.

"I can see that by how hard they're working out here. And I feel like if we can just continue to push through the grind that we'll end up on the other side of it as the season goes on."

Kansas City has been here before, struggling to get going in 2021 before finding their stride and advancing to the AFC Championship Game. A year later, the Chiefs had worked out the kinks, returning to the Super Bowl and winning it in thrilling fashion.

These Chiefs, however, don't match the trajectory of either of those teams, primarily because Mahomes doesn't have a trusted target outside of Kelce. Rookie Rashee Rice stands as his most dependable option in line after Kelce, leaving Mahomes with fewer options.

The results have left many wondering whether the Chiefs will figure it out in time to return to the Super Bowl. Kelce isn't interested in hearing such doubt, instead adopting an us against the world mentality.

"There's a lot of media pointing fingers on the skill players on our team, I say f--- that," Kelce said. "Excuse my language, we usually cuss in lighthearted ways, but you guys had to feel that, whoever is talking s--- on our skill players and our offense.

"This is a group effort and when you turn the film on what's real is that we've got guys that can play this game and we've got guys that we can have success with and win championships with. I know it, I've been on championship-winning teams. When you watch the film, penalties, turnovers and critical moments, it's everybody, it's not just one guy. Everybody is getting a piece of the pie."

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