The Chiefs totaled 438 yards of offense, 29 first downs and 34 points. Their quarterback topped 300 yards for the fourth straight game. The running game averaged nearly 5 yards per carry.

So this is relative.

Even nit-picky.

But it's noteworthy. Patrick Mahomes did not a complete a pass to a target 20-plus yards downfield during Sunday's win in Detroit. Not one. He attempted six.

In 21 regular-season starts, this is a first, according to statistics from Pro Football Focus. Under Mahomes, the Chiefs' offense is decidedly north-south. Against the Lions' man-to-man coverage, however, it lacked a big-play spark, the knockout punch of the potential deep ball.

Which makes Wednesday's news all the more welcomed. Tyreek Hill returned to practice for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the Chiefs' season opener in Jacksonville. The most explosive receiver on the roster - and perhaps the league - is inching closer to a return, though coach Andy Reid stopped short of saying Hill would be ready Sunday, when the Colts visit Arrowhead Stadium.

"Obviously the attention that he gets, how explosive he is," Mahomes responded when asked what the Chiefs have missed during Hill's absence. "He can take a little shovel pass and take it to the house. We have a lot of guys like that, but he's a guy that defenses have to game-plan for. Defenses have to account for him with maybe one or two guys to figure out a way to stop him, which helps everybody else out."

The Lions' coverage showed up on tape. The Chiefs knew it was coming. They'd seen it before.


Press coverage.

It's a risky proposition against a fast team - because when you get beat using that defense, you really get beat. Which makes Hill an ideal weapon. Even the ideal weapon in this league. Asking a cornerback to play the fastest man in football stride for stride?

Good luck.

"Not every play is going to be a good play when you play against that coverage," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "But the good ones could be great ones."

Hill finished tied for sixth in the NFL at 16.6 yards per catch in 2018. He's a threat anywhere on the field, but few in the league pose the same danger on deep routes that he does.

Without him on the field, the Lions' scheme of press coverage with man-to-man and a single safety proved more effective. They were ready let the Chiefs fire to single coverage on the outside while doubling tight end Travis Kelce. Mahomes did not pass for a touchdown for the first time in nearly a year - and, as mentioned earlier, he also didn't complete a pass to a target 20-plus yards down the field for the first time in a regular-season game.

If the Chiefs remain without Hill against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium, adjustments can be made to beat similar coverage options. They've beaten those looks in the secondary before.

If, however, that scheme showed even a hint of how to slow down a high-powered offense for four quarters, you can bet the Chiefs will see it again.

And soon.

But Hill's presence could cause some pause.

"They obviously had a great defensive game plan and played really good man coverage and really got up there and pressed us and were physical," Mahomes said of the Lions. "But there were times where I either missed throws or the receivers didn't necessarily run the perfect route or the offensive line didn't block for a certain amount of time. That's just stuff we have to get better at as a team. We can't miss something here or there."